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A Massachusetts teenager’s death last month was officially ruled a suicide by authorities this week, despite her family’s claims she may have been murdered in a suspected hate crime incident.
Mikayla Miller, 16, was found hanging from a tree in a wooded area in Hopkinton, Massachusetts on April 18, according to a search warrant. A jogger discovered her body roughly a mile away from her home.
For weeks, her cause or manner of death wasn’t released by authorities. This week, her death has been ruled a suicide, according to a death certificate filed by the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. An autopsy concluded she died from asphyxia by hanging, NBC Boston reported.
“Our investigation into the events surrounding Mikayla’s death remains active and ongoing,” Meghan Kelly, of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office wrote in a statement sent to Oxygen.com. “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.”
A fitness app on Miller’s phone tracked her final movements on April 18; officials said she’d clocked roughly 1,300 steps, the approximate distance between her house and where her body turned up. They added that the case was still open and active, but indicated they didn’t believe the teen’s death is suspicious.
Earlier this month, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan vowed to release “every shred of legally releasable information” related to the teen's death, which she described as an “unspeakable tragedy.”
Prosecutors confirmed they’d reached out to a representative for Miller’s family.
“We will continue to be in contact with Mikayla’s family’s representatives moving forward and we are asking for continued patience as we perform this critically important work,” Kelly wrote in an email.
The Massachusetts teen identified as LGBTQ. Following her death, Miller’s family fiercely disputed suspicion by police that she had died by suicide. Her mother claimed she was assaulted by a group of five white teens the day prior to her death.
"What I want is for the criminal justice system to work," Calvina Strothers, Mikayla Miller’s mother, previously told NBC News. "[They should] work as hard to get justice for Mikayla as they would do for their own child."
The group of teenagers was cleared by prosecutors. They had been at other locations at the time Miller died, according to the AP. Witnesses and cell phone data verified they weren’t at the possible crime scene.
A number of activists claimed police and prosecutors had neglected the case due to Miller’s race and sexual orientation. Others accused officials of covering up her death. The hashtag #JusticeForMikayla was widely shared on social media as news of her death spread nationwide.
Officials have denied bias played any role in their investigation, calling such claims “painfully false.”
If you are thinking about harming yourself call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
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