Three high-profile Massachusetts officials have now issued statements in the past 24 hours calling for a thorough, transparent investigation into the death of 16-year-old Mikayla Miller.
Mikayla's family is expected to speak at a vigil and rally Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the town common in her hometown of Hopkinton. The town's select board held a meeting Tuesday night to discuss the event.
The vigil is expected to draw a large crowd -- so large that there will be expanded police presence at Hopkinton schools, they will be dismissing students early and are canceling after school sporting events.
The superintendent said Wednesday, in part, "At this time, we have concerns about volume: there will be great numbers of attendees and exceedingly heavy traffic in the downtown area, perhaps making the area significantly restricted to the flow of traffic, including our buses.”
There has been intense interest and scrutiny surrounding Mikayla's death. Many questions remain as the community continues to grieve the loss of such a young life.
Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said on Twitter late Tuesday that there needs to be a "full, transparent, independent investigation" into Mikayla's death.
"Mikayla Miller deserved to grow old. She had so many basketball games, road trips and HBCU homecomings ahead of her. She deserved childhood -- uninterrupted."
"My heart breaks for Mikayla Miller's family," Attorney General Maura Healey said. "Young, LGBTQ girls of color deserve all our love, support and protection. Nothing will bring her back, but I hope a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death can bring come peace to her family and community."
Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka said in a statement that she is "devastated" by Mikayla's death and plans to attend Thursday's vigil.
"I understand that a lack of answers about her case is distressing, especially in a time of grieving, and I join the family and the community in support of a thorough and transparent investigation."
Prosecutors continue to investigate after Mikayla was found dead around 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, April 18. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan released more details during a Tuesday news briefing based on the preliminary investigation, which has involved dozens of witness interviews, analysis of devices and surveillance video.
It shows that the teenager was involved in a fight between her and two teenagers in a group of four the day before her death, and that someone Mikayla was in a relationship with was present for it, according to Ryan. They were at an unsupervised clubhouse in the apartment complex on Revolution Way where the Mikayla lived.
Hours later, Mikayla's mother called police to say that her daughter had been "jumped," Ryan said. The teenager told officers that she'd been pushed and punched in the face, and the officers noted she had a bloodied lip, then interviewed another girl involved in the fight. They also noted some damage at the apartment complex.
On Saturday night between 9 and 10 p.m., Mikayla left her home, according to an app on her phone. She was found dead by a jogger in a wooded area off a walking path Sunday morning, according to Ryan.
She said the app showed Mikayla had traveled about 1,316 steps between 9 and 10 p.m., a distance that's consistent with the distance between her home and where she was found.
Investigators reviewed GPS and other evidence to determine where the teenagers involved in the fight were Saturday night into Sunday, according to Ryan. The two girls were at their locations from 8 p.m. into the morning, while the two boys went with a family member to Charlton and then Sturbridge by 9:06 p.m. Another girl who'd been outside the clubhouse when the fight happened was at home, witnesses said.
But Ryan also noted that, "As to who else may have been in the woods or that area on Sunday, we do not have any information as to that." The last person she communicated with on her phone was another girl who hadn't been involved in the fight, around 9 p.m.
The investigation into whether Miller was assaulted during the fight on Saturday also remains ongoing, Ryan said.
There were some questions that remained unanswered Tuesday afternoon, along with the cause of death and whether race was a factor. Ryan said she wasn't prepared to answer whether bullying may have been involved and wasn't able to say how Mikayla traveled between her home and the place where she was found.
Ryan acknowledged unsubstantiated rumors swirling in the community that Mikayla, who was Black, was murdered and that race may have played a part. Ryan said it was too soon to say what caused Mikayla's death, which the local medical examiner is looking into, and added that there is no evidence either way that race was involved in it.
"Mikayla Miller, as many of you may have seen, was a beautiful child. She was a cherished daughter, a gifted student, a talented athlete and a loyal friend," she said, adding that her death was "an unspeakable tragedy."
Hopkinton police also issued their own statement Tuesday, saying they are working closely with the district attorney's office and they are aware of the concerns expressed by many in the community.
"The Hopkinton community mourns the tragic loss of 16-year-old Mikayla Miller. Our most heartfelt thoughts go out to her family and all those who care for her," the department said.