The NBC10 Investigators have learned a Hopkinton teen’s death has been ruled a suicide, according to a death certificate filed by the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Mikayla Miller died from asphyxia by hanging, the certificate says. The 16-year-old was found suspended from a tree near a town path on the morning of April 18, according to a search warrant.
The district attorney’s office said at the time that the death was not considered suspicious but the case remained "open and active."
In the weeks that followed the teen’s death, speculation has swirled, and lawmakers have joined Mikayla’s mother in calling for a transparent and thorough investigation into the death of Mikayla, who was Black and a member of the LGBTQIA community.
Court records reviewed by NBC10 shed additional light on the circumstances.
In an affidavit filed in court, a Hopkinton police detective wrote he was called around 7:30 a.m. on April 18 regarding a deceased female, and joined two Hopkinton police sergeants and another officer to investigate.
The detective noted that a thin black leather belt was affixed to a small branch and secured around Mikayla's neck.
Mikayla was wearing a baseball cap, and police located her backpack in the area. Inside was personal property, including a Macbook computer and cell phone, according to the affidavit.
The search warrant also described a reported fight inside a game room at the apartment complex the night before Mikayla was found dead.
Documents say it started between Mikayla and her ex-girlfriend, but other teens joined in, and one boy allegedly hit Mikayla in the face. Police later found glass planters that had shattered in the parking lot during the confrontation, according to the affidavit.
The detective wrote that police had probable cause to believe assault and battery, disorderly conduct and malicious destruction of property had occurred during the events at the apartment complex, according to the paperwork.
However, as the NBC10 Investigators first reported, police probing the death of Mikayla were unable to retrieve key video evidence in the case because cameras in her apartment building weren’t recording the night she died, according to the district attorney.
In a note to investigators, a worker from the company that operates the surveillance system in Mikayla’s building wrote that it didn’t save any footage for a period of about 17 days, beginning April 2 until the system was rebooted on April 19 – one day after the teen’s body was discovered nearby.
Video evidence could have answered crucial questions in Mikayla’s case, and revealed what transpired during that physical altercation between Mikayla and five other teenagers during the last day she was seen alive.
A representative for Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement her office has been in touch with a Miller family attorney regarding the cause of death ruling. The representative also said the investigation into the events around Mikayla's death continues.
"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," the statement said, urging "continued patience as we perform this critically important work."
Mikayla’s mother, Calvina Strothers, will be part of a virtual news conference on Wednesday afternoon with attorney Ben Crump and other community leaders to demand a full investigation into the girl’s death. Crump, a civil rights attorney, has represented the family of George Floyd and other Black people who have died at the hands of police and vigilantes.
SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: Here is information on suicide prevention from the National Institute of Mental Health. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741.