HOPKINTON, MASS. (WHDH) – Community members gathered Thursday for a vigil in honor of 16-year-old Mikayla Miller, of Hopkinton, who was found dead in the woods more than two weeks ago.
The emotional vigil held on the town common was attended by hundreds of people and featured speeches from organizer Monica Cannon-Grant and Miller’s mother, Calvina Strothers, who called on Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan to remove herself from the case.
“Mikayla was only 16 years old. She was my bright and shining star in this crazy world. She was a good listener and had a kind heart. And although she was only 16 years old, she gave better advice to others in times of need than I did,” Strothers said. “She was calm and laid back and gave her opinion only when asked. But, when she did, you knew the truth was coming.”
Most of the crowd dispersed following the vigil but some stayed and continued to demonstrate by and blocking off part of Main Street near the starting line of the Boston Marathon.
Cannon-grant and fellow organizer Tito Jackson said they chose this spot to be close to the starting line because Miller died over Marathon weekend.
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Those in attendance said they were there to support the family and start the community’s healing.
“I was in the basketball program with Mikayla. I was a couple years older than her — I knew of her,” said Olivia Gladu. “I just felt like we need to come out and support her family and the community.”
The vigils come after Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said an investigation into Miller’s death is still underway.
“This investigation will not be closed until we have exhausted all avenues,” she said at a press conference Tuesday.
Ryan went on to say that investigators do not have any evidence of a hate crime at this point, referring to the fact that Miller was black and a member of the LGBTQ community. The authorities are still waiting to get the results of the teen’s autopsy.
In a message to the DA’s office, Stothers said, “My message to them is to fight as diligently for my daughter as they would their own child. And to do a proper investigation as they would want for their own child.”
State leaders took the opportunity to speak out.
“There needs to be a full, transparent, independent investigation into her death,” Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said.
During her press conference, Ryan called Miller a cherished daughter, gifted student at Hopkinton High School, talented athlete, and loyal friend.
“Mikayla’s death is an unspeakable tragedy for her loved ones, and for the entire Hopkinton community,” she said
Faith leaders in town said they hope the vigil provides an opportunity for community members to heal.
“My hope would be that it shows support for the family. Continue to seek answers, accountability, justice,” said Pastor Schneider Watson.
Hopkinton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carol Cavanaugh dismissed all students early and after-school sports were canceled in light of the ceremony.
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