The NBC10 Boston Investigators have obtained an email which indicates Mikayla Miller’s ex-girlfriend reached out to a school guidance counselor several days before her death, expressing concern about her mental health.
On Tuesday, the Hopkinton teen’s death was ruled a suicide, according to a death certificate filed by the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The certificate concluded Mikayla died from asphyxia by hanging. 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.
Several days before her death on April 12, Mikayla’s ex-girlfriend contacted a guidance counselor at Hopkinton High School.
“I’m really worried about Mikayla Miller and I didn’t know who else she could talk to,” wrote the teen, who NBC10 Boston isn’t identifying because she is a juvenile. “I know you’re her guidance counselor but I think she really needs someone to talk to. She’s been crying and having panic attacks all weekend and she normally never does.”
According to the email, the guidance counselor responded that she would “check in on Mikayla.”
However, it’s unclear what transpired after that. Multiple emails and phone calls to the school district superintendent, Dr. Carol Cavanaugh, have gone without a response. NBC10 Boston also stopped by the school district’s office building on Wednesday.
Attorney Joseph Cataldo is representing the teen and provided the email communication to the NBC10 Boston Investigators.
“Anyone who claims my client, who is a juvenile, is blameworthy in any way is speaking out of ignorance of facts,” Cataldo wrote in a statement. “This is a sad situation. Ultimately, upon conclusion of the investigation, I expect my client will be absolved of any wrongdoing, and she should be commended for her efforts to get help for her friend.”
The NBC10 Boston Investigators learned that this was just one of several attempts where the ex-girlfriend reached out to someone to seek help for Mikayla.
The district attorney’s office said at the time that the death was not considered suspicious but the case remained "open and active."
But in the weeks following 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.
Much of the focus has centered around 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 Boston 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.
More stories about the Mikayla Miller case
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.
On Wednesday, Mikayla Miller’s mother, Calvina Strothers, was part of a virtual news conference with attorney Ben Crump and other community activists to demand further investigation. Strothers told reporters she believes her daughter’s death was a homicide.
Attorneys for the family said the results of an independent autopsy would be made public soon.
Following the release of the death certificate on Tuesday, a representative for Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement her office has been in touch with a Miller family attorney. 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."
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.