A candlelight vigil has been planned to demand answers following the death of a Black LGBTQ teenage girl who was found hanging from a tree last month in a mostly white suburb of Boston. Her mother has reportedly described the death in terms similar to a lynching.
Mikayla Miller was found dead on April 18 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. But the investigation into the 16-year-old’s death was delayed by local police under the threat of exposing high school student’s sexuality, according to a social media post attributed to Mikayla’s mother.
The statement alleged that Mikayla was “ambushed” and “murdered” by “a group of kids.” The statement added that neither the Hopkinton Police Department nor the Massachusetts State Police responded accordingly and that a state trooper “warned” Mikayla’s mother against seeking media attention or else her daughter’s “sexuality” would be exposed.
“They will not cover up her murder,” the statement said.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office on Sunday confirmed that it was investigating the case and denied any suggestion to the contrary. However, there was no confirmation about the motive behind Miller’s death, such as racism, homophobia or suicide following bullying.
“The idea that we would be not investigating bullying or a murder, as the allegation, is just not true,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan told CBS Boston.
Nonprofit group Violence In Boston has planned a candlelight vigil for Mikayla on Thursday and said Hopkinton residents have been “sending nasty messages” to people who plan to attend. Hopkinton, located about 36 miles from Boston, is 84% white and nearly 2% Black, according to Census data.
Out.com, a pro-LGBTQ website, identified Mikayla as “LGBTQ+” and the Facebook event page for the vigil said Mikayla ” identified as LGBTQIA.” The Facebook page said Mikayla was an honors student and student-athlete who played basketball and wanted to attend a historically Black college or university.
“Not just ANY HBCU,” the event page said. “Mikayla wanted to attend Spellman [sic] or Howard. She wanted to study journalism.”
Violence In Boston asked how anyone can be so sure Mikayla died by suicide and pointed to statements “slandering” her mother as possible evidence that there was a coverup at play.
“They are slandering Mikaylas Mother discussing things like the death of Mikaylas father and how she pays her rent,” Violence In Boston wrote Monday in a Facebook post. “These clear folks are violent and Police Officers Families. The amount of hate messages I have received is disgusting.”
The statement added: “The Cover Up is Real.”
A request for comment from Violence In Boston was not immediately returned.
As news has spread of Mikayla’s death, social media posts have claimed without proof that she was “lynched.”
CBS Boston reported that the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office does not consider Mikayla’s death “suspicious” and said she was involved in “an altercation” prior to being found dead.
But, as Violence In Boston accurately pointed out, an official cause of death has not been established for Mikayla nearly four weeks after she was found dead despite an autopsy having been conducted.
Mikayla’s mother and aunt told CBS Boston that more information would be announced during the vigil Thursday.
There has been a troubling series of Black men found hanging across the country under questionable circumstances in recent years.
In December, law enforcement officials in Georgia determined the cause of death for Omari Bryant was suicide despite his family maintaining that the 18-year-old was not suicidal. Bryant’s body was found hanging in front of a motel.