Family, advocates of Mikayla Miller dispute suicide ruling

"I know the truth, and it's not what they say."

Relatives of Mikayla Miller have rejected the state medical examiner’s ruling that the Massachusetts teenager died by suicide.

As theGrio reported, Miller, 16, was found dead by a jogger on April 18 in a wooded area near her residence in Hopkinton. The teenager was reportedly in a fight with her girlfriend days before her death. Critics have spoken out about the investigation and made claims that Miller’s race and LGBTQ+ identity hindered the progress and quality of the probe.

Read More: Mass. mom begs for answers after teen daughter found dead

A death certificate filed by the state medical examiner’s office concluded that Mikayla died by asphyxiating herself, NBC Boston reported.
Mikayla Miller

“I do not believe that my daughter committed suicide,” Miller’s mother, Calvina Strothers, said Wednesday during a news conference. “That’s nothing I’m willing to entertain.”

“The conclusion they made yesterday,” Strothers said, referring to the suicide ruling, “is the conclusion they made the first day they walked into my house. There is no difference. But I know the truth, and it’s not what they say.”

After Miller’s body was found, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan initially said the death was not considered suspicious. She cited witness accounts and surveillance footage and said prior to Miller’s death, she was involved in a fight, her romantic partner was there, and the teenagers were in an unsupervised clubhouse. Hours later, her mother called the police to inform them her daughter had been jumped.

Miller herself allegedly told officers that she’d been pushed and punched in the face, and the officers noted she had a busted lip. They went on to interview another person involved in the altercation as well as visit the clubhouse where they noticed damages. Hours after the fight, Miller reportedly left her home and walked a distance consistent with the location where her body was discovered the following day. 

“When they came to my house that morning, without any investigation, they immediately drew a conclusion and said that my daughter took her own life,” Strothers told reporters at the time. 

Miller’s death has attracted national attention and advocates for the teenager continue to criticize the handling of the investigation. Critics believe not enough focus has been given to the physical fight between the victim and the group of five teenagers on the afternoon before her death.

Read More: Missing college student Saniyya Dennis appears to have died by suicide

Hopkinton police on Wednesday released several records related to the investigation, including the department’s log from April 18 which determined Miller died by suicide, per NBC News. In a statement, Hopkinton Police Chief Joseph Bennett said he “believes the release of the records is the prudent course of action given the volume of records requests received and the amount of public commentary already made regarding this case.”

He added: “The death of a child is a universal tragedy, and it is the most difficult situation a police officer or firefighter can be called to respond to. We generally do not comment publicly on such cases. I appreciate and understand the tremendous public interest in this investigation. We all want answers.”

A spokeswoman for Ryan said the investigation remains active.

“We have received notice that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled that Mikayla Miller died by suicide. We have been in conversation with her family’s attorney regarding this development,” the statement read.

“However, our investigation into the events surrounding Mikayla’s death remains active and ongoing,” the statement continued. “We will continue to explore every investigative angle necessary as we do that work and intend to issue a complete and thorough report at the conclusion of the investigation.”

Read More: Brothers kill 4 family members before shooting themselves in Texas murder-suicide pact: police

The results from Miller’s autopsy have not been released. 

Many of Miller’s supporters believe her death was “retaliatory” after her mother was allegedly warned by law enforcement not to make a big fuss about the fight or speak to the media about the incident.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said at a press conference on Wednesday that he is representing the family. He called Miller’s death “highly suspicious.”

“What Calvina and the family of Mikayla Miller want to know is, was she lynched? And if she was, why aren’t we saying that?” Crump said at the press conference. “They do not believe she committed suicide as has been quickly determined by the local officials.”

Additional reporting by DeMicia Inman

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast, “Dear Culture?” Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio today!