Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan held a press conference Tuesday where she provided updates in the case of 16-year-old Mikayla Miller, who was found dead in a wooded area just outside her home in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, Sunday, April 18. Miller's mother, Calvina Strothers, had earlier claimed her daughter was found tied to a tree and that investigators seemed little interested in solving the case because she was LGBTQ+. Ryan adamantly denied those allegations in her press conference, but Representative Ayanna Pressley called for an independent investigation into Miller's death.
In her opening remarks Tuesday, Ryan noted Miller was a "cherished daughter, a gifted student, a talented athlete, and a loyal friend," and that her death was "an unspeakable tragedy" for those she left behind, but she quickly brushed away suggestions the investigation into her death was deficient as "patently false."
"From the beginning of this investigation, our investigators have been fully committed to determining exactly how Mikayla's precious and promising life ended," Ryan said. "Make no mistake, there is no truth to the allegation that we have reached a final conclusion."
She also claimed investigators have been in near daily contact with Strothers and Miller's family, who had been vocal in recent days about the investigation.
"My daughter was jumped by a group of kids on Saturday April 17th, 2021, and was then murdered hours later in Hopkinton, tied to a tree and left," read a statement allegedly from Strothers and posted to social media by Violence in Boston Inc.
— The Engine of Change (@The Engine of Change)
Ryan said investigators had used cellular data, text messaging, surveillance videos, and other unspecified evidence to compile an extensive timeline of Miller's actions and whereabouts on the Saturday, April 17, prior to the discovery of her body the following morning.
Miller was with two teens in the clubhouse area of the apartment complex where she lived in the early evening that Saturday. The two friends left and Miller was then joined by four teenagers (two females and two males). Another female teenager remained in the parked car. According to Ryan, Miller was in a relationship with one of the two teenaged girls.
At some point between 5:17 p.m. and 6:41 p.m., an altercation broke out between Miller and two of the teens, one male and one female. The group remained together another 20 minutes after the fight before the five teens left.
Police were called by Strother not long after, who reported her daughter had been "jumped" by a group of white teens. Ryan gave no racial breakdown of the teens involved, saying only they were of different races. Police observed Miller suffered from a bloody lip, which appeared consistent with her statements to officers she had been pushed and punched in the face. Ryan said the investigation into that case "remains open" but that there are "no charges pending" at present. Officers also investigated the clubhouse and noticed damage to both the interior and exterior of the area.
Investigators were able to trace Miller's movements via the health app on her phone, learning that sometime between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., Miller's cellphone traveled the approximate distance from her apartment to the area of the woods where her body was discovered by a jogger the following morning.
Ryan added the whereabouts of the six teens who were with Miller that night, as well as the teen who remained in the car, have been confirmed to show they were not in the wooded area that night where Miller's body was later discovered.
The first question from reporters to Ryan concerned reports Miller was found hanging from a tree.
"Can you talk a little bit about the nature in which Mikayla's body was found?" asked an unnamed reporter. "Was she hanging or not?"
"There's circumstances as I mentioned, the manner and cause of death are things that we are awaiting a ruling from the medical examiner," Ryan responded, effectively deflecting the question.
Representative Ayanna Pressley, who represents the 7th Congressional district rather than 4th Congressional district where Miller lived, appeared dissatisfied with Ryan's handling of the case, and called for "full, transparent, independent investigation" of the case.
\u201cMikayla Miller deserved to grow old. She had so many basketball games, road trips and HBCU homecomings ahead of her. She deserved childhood -- uninterrupted. \n\nThere needs to be a full, transparent, independent investigation into her death.\u201d
Ryan empathized with those who want immediate answers and assured the community her office is doing everything it can to solve this case, but that it was important to conduct the investigation the right way.
"We have to get to the answers in this case, as in every case, with due speed but in a way that does not compromise the integrity of the investigation," she said.