HomeNewsThe Aftermath of Mikayla Miller’s Tragic Death

The Aftermath of Mikayla Miller’s Tragic Death

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On June 2, Mikayla Miller would have graduated from Hopkinton High School. But a little more than two years ago today, on the evening of April 16, 2021, Mikayla went for a walk in the woods near her apartment on Revolutionary Way. She and her long term girlfriend, Kaitlyn Anderson, had recently broken up and she was devastated. She was alone, and by some accounts growing more depressed every day.

The next day Mikayla got into an argument with Kaitlyn and four friends in the apartment complex clubhouse. Angry words escalated into physical conflict. Kaitlyn later admitted to punching Mikayla during a scuffle when she went to Mikayla’s apartment to pick up her clothes. 

Days earlier, Kaitlyn had emailed Hopkinton High guidance counselor Kiely Murray saying she was worried about Mikayla. In part, the email said: “I know this is late and random but I’m really worried about Mikayla Miller and I didn’t know who else she could talk to. I know that you’re not 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.”

On April 18, a passing jogger discovered Mikayla in the woods, a belt around her neck. The news rocked Hopkinton and brought national media coverage to our town.

This was an unimaginable tragedy for our town. The death of a child is not easy under any circumstances, and that it was a suicide makes the pain that much more acute. As Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said at the May 6, 2021 School Committee meeting “Losing a child under any circumstances is wrong. It’s not the natural order to be burying our children.”

In any other case, this event almost certainly would have sparked a conversation in Hopkinton about Mikayla’s mental health and where the system and community failed to meet her needs. We would have mourned as a community, as we have done so many times in our 308-year history.

Investigators initially suspected Mikayla died by suicide. But her mother, Calvina Strothers, joined by Black Lives Matter activist Monica Cannon-Grant, disagreed. The two asserted that Mikayla had been “jumped by 5 white teens” and murdered. They alleged a vast cover-up between the Hopkinton Police Department and the Middlesex District Attorney’s office and demanded that the investigation be turned over to the FBI.

Unfortunately, in this tragic situation, it would appear that the narrative was hijacked by Strothers and Cannon-Grant, each pushing a personal agenda and propelled by the larger, national story about race in America.

Calvina Strothers

The relationship between Calvina Strothers and her daughter, Mikayla, has been widely reported as “troubled”. Strothers often left Mikayla home alone for long periods of time. At the time of Mikayla’s death, Strothers, a hair stylist, was visiting her boyfriend in Chicago. Megan Anderson, Kaitlyn’s mother, would occasionally bring Mikayla food. 

On March 6, 2020 Hopkinton Police responded to a domestic assault and battery call. According to the report, a teen girl told officers she’d been riding in a car with her mother and they’d begun to argue. The teen said Strothers pulled the car over and “began to hit her,” striking her three or four times with an open and closed fist. The officer noted that the girl had “signs of injury” on her face. When they’d come home, the argument further escalated, with Strothers “throwing items around the room and then hitting the teen”. Mikayla’s name is not mentioned as she was a minor, but the report indicates that the victim was the daughter of Strothers. 

The officer also spoke to Strothers, who confirmed they had argued in the car, but that it never became physical there. Strothers claimed it was Mikayla that had attacked her when they got back home and that Strothers had to punch the girl “to defend herself”. The officer noted that Strothers didn’t have any marks on her from a fight and that he “believed that Calvina was the dominant aggressor.”

Officers also interviewed a witness who lived at the apartment complex who “stated about two weeks ago she heard (Mikayla) crying and sounds that would resemble something being hit.”

Mikayla was taken into protective custody by Mass DCF and spent two weeks in Quincy. Eventually she was returned to her mother, but the details of this arrangement were not made public. Strothers was criminally charged on April 17, 2020 with Assault & Battery. One year and a day later Mikayla was found dead. Prior to the rally on the Hopkinton Common (more on that below), Strothers was in court lobbying for a dismissal due to Mikayla no longer being alive. The case was dropped.

Almost immediately after Mikayla was found, Strothers took to social media, claiming that her daughter was murdered and calling for an independent investigation. In a rally on the steps of the Hopkinton Common, she tearfully called Mikayla “her bright and shining star.” She launched a GoFundMe page (since removed), accusing the police of not investigating Mikayla’s death and seeking “resources to continue this fight for accountability and transparency.” 

The GoFundMe page claimed that “On the evening of April 17th, my daughter was jumped by 5 white teens in Hopkinton where I live. I called the police to report this attack on my daughter. I filed a police report with the Hopkinton Police Department…we assumed, falsely, that the Hopkinton Police would do their job and file this report, follow up and work for justice.”

Allegedly, the GoFundMe page raised more than $60,000. Strothers has never provided a public account for how this money was used.

Though Mikayla’s death was initially ruled a suicide, the Middlesex DA’s office – under intense public pressure – opened an investigation. Mikayla’s phone had been recovered at the scene, and using the iPhone Health app investigators were able to track the 1,316 steps she’d taken to the woods where her body was found the next morning. They also pulled surveillance video from a McDonald’s where two of the teens were eating at the time Mikayla died. GPS signals placed Kaitlyn and the other two girls miles away from the scene that night, leading investigators to conclude that none of the teens were in the woods that night.

Subsequently, Strothers relocated to Norcross, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.

The ACLU and other groups called for an independent investigation into the death, and politicians including U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley joined in, calling for more “transparency” after Boston activist Monica Cannon-Grant organized a rally to raise awareness about Mikayla’s death.

Monica Cannon-Grant

Monica Cannon-Grant is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Violence in Boston (VIB), a Massachusetts nonprofit that was incorporated in 2017, corresponding with the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement. Cannon-Grant formed VIB with her husband, Clark Grant, who was a Director in the company.

From 2017 to 2021, Cannon-Grant and Clark Grant, through VIB fundraising, solicited and received over a million dollars in donations and grants from individuals, charities, and other entities. The company had no physical location and was based out of their Boston residence. 

A prominent activist, Cannon-Grant likely became aware of Mikayla’s death because of the widespread media coverage. On May 2, she began using her Facebook page to make baseless accusations at officials. In one post, she claimed that all of the youths involved were white, even though one is Latino. The post also falsely claimed that two of them were “COPS KIDS”. 

On May 4, 2021, Cannon-Grant squared off with DA Ryan on GBH News where she asserted Mikayla was “murdered” and claimed that if Mikayla were white and the 5 others had been black each of the individuals would have been charged. “There has been a lack of transparency and accountability out of DA Ryan’s office,” she said. 

Around this time Cannon-Grant was hailed as one of the “100 Most Influential Bostonians 2021” by Boston Magazine.

Cannon-Grant organized a rally on the Hopkinton Common on May 6, 2021. She urged the crowd to contact DA Ryan’s office to call for an “independent investigation” rather than going home to “eat your cheese sandwich and say you showed up for the negroes.”

Though Cannon-Grant had repeatedly stated that the money she was raising was to cover a second autopsy, no findings were ever released, and Mikayla’s body was cremated. 

When the Medical Examiner issued their official finding, that “Mikayla died from asphyxia by hanging”, Cannon-Grant seemingly disappeared. 

Federal Indictment

On March 14, 2022, Cannon-Grant and Clark Grant were indicted in federal court on 18 counts; two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of conspiracy, 13 counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to a mortgage-lending business. Government attorneys allege that they used the funds they raised to pay rent, school dues for their children and other personal living expenses. 

“CANNON-GRANT and CLARK GRANT diverted VIB monies to themselves through cash withdrawals, cashed checks, wire transfers to their personal bank accounts, and debit purchases, among other methods,” the complaint said.

“The principal purpose of the conspiracy and scheme to defraud was to personally enrich CANNON-GRANT, CLARK GRANT with VIB money, while concealing such personal expenditures from VIB directors, officers and others,” the complaint continued.

They were formally arraigned on Tuesday, March 29, 2023 and both entered not guilty pleas. If convicted, Cannon-Grant could face up to 30 years in prison. She now lives a quiet life in a suburb south of Boston. “One thing is, when the federal government shows up, everyone scatters,” she told Boston Magazine this past October.

Clark Grant was killed in a motorcycle accident the same day he was indicted.

The Aftermath

Did we – our schools, our town, as neighbors – fail Mikayla? She was black and gay and lived in an insecure home in a predominately wealthy, white town. It is an unspeakable tragedy that our community wasn’t able to intercede to potentially prevent her from taking her own life.

But Mikayla was not the the only victim. Kaitlyn Anderson repeatedly endured painful and unfair allegations. Her mother, Megan, told Newsweek that her daughter had been “subjected to doxing, character assassination and relentless harassment because of the false accusations floated by activists”. She withdrew Kaitlyn from Hopkinton High mid-year.

The Hopkinton Police Department and Middlesex District Attorney were maligned. Mikayla’s untimely and tragic death was suspected to be a suicide from the start, yet they were accused of racism and conspiring to conceal evidence of a murder.

Our town suffered. In both social media posts and media outlets, Hopkinton was portrayed as entirely white, racist and violent. While systemic racism in America is real, it is sad that Hopkinton became an example in Strothers’ and Cannon-Grant’s account of events.

Two years later, we drive by Berry Acres and think of Mikayla. Hopkinton lost a daughter that day, and it’s unfortunate that in the events that followed, we were consumed more by a cause than the mental health of the child.


Where to get help:

21 COMMENTS

  1. We all know which Hopkinton “community activists” were front and center at that rally, and will never forget.
    It was horrifying watching people I knew getting whipped into a frenzy by a completely false narrative.
    Thank you again Hopnews.

  2. I was hesitant when I first saw this article and was thinking this is likely stirring up a lot of ugly back-and-forth, but after reading it, I appreciate that the point of the article is “what have we done SINCE to address the mental health and support challenges our youth and adults here face everyday?” I’m interested in hearing more about that and make this a reflection of hard work in these areas (I hope) and a driver for continued focus on mental health and support.

  3. Great article.
    I hope all the members of our community take the time to read this so they have all the FACTS about what actually happened.
    I wonder if anyone from the mob has apologized to those children they crucified, especially Katelyn who at the time was a young teen being mistreated by an ex-girlfriend and she still did the right thing and tried to get her help.
    We need to do better by our community and all the children who live here.

  4. The horrible treatment Kaitlyn Anderson and her family got treated to by these liberal mob activists in this town following this tragic suicide was appalling. I doubt they ever apologized to the Anderson family though after the ruse was exposed. A public apology should have also been issued to all of us residents as well for dragging this town’s good name through the mud in the name of political opportunism.

  5. Public apologies are tough to come by in this town.

    I’ve only been here for half a decade, and I haven’t been as involved as maybe most of us should be. But it seems to me that as a town we are like a rudderless ship.
    We have schools that are leaking talent and physically unequal to the demands of the population. Our downtown has been torn apart for years and I can’t understand how the end result could possibly justify the expense. We’ve poisoned our own water supply, and we have a ticking time bomb of a gas plant behind one of the largest developments in our town. Our local politics are marred by corruption and divisiveness, and our schools have failed to effectively address a bullying problem for a couple decades now. We have an extremely high tax burden, and it’s only going to get worse.

    In a town full of intelligent, talented, successful people, the absence of effective and responsible leadership is shocking to me.

    We may not have a rudder, but my sincere thanks to HopNews: At least we have an anchor now.

  6. Thank you, HopNews, for standing up for our town, and telling the truth. The facts speak for themselves. I really like how the article challenges us as a community to think about how we can better support the mental health needs of our most precious resource, our children. Thanks again.

  7. I believe the big blue machine in town welcomed Monica Cannon Grant to our common with open arms. As usual the blue team makes a stand against our great police department even after the investigation was concluded and the official cause of death was deemed suicide. All done because they, the left needed to advance their agenda. They were hoping and praying it was an act of racism so systemic racism could be found alive and well in Hopkinton.

    • Craig – your belief is wrong. There were no Dems that invited them. To the best of my knowledge no one ‘invited them’. Please tell me why you believe that to be true? Or did you just throw that out there to stir the pot? I have no idea how or if they got permission to use our common. They must have brought in their power source as well, doubt they asked the Veterans.
      I’ll tell you I was there that day because this is my town. I’ve lived her more than half my life and I wasn’t going to hide in my house because they were coming. I was there to honor the child who made a permanent decision for a temporary problem. I went because I didn’t want the Violence Boston group to think I was the least bit intimidated by their coming. There were tons of Hopkintonians in attendance. It was very peaceful. I started home when they began giving out the DA’s #.
      I had no doubt Ms Miller took her own life and that the HPD did everything correctly. My heart broke for the jogger and the officers that found her. I’m truly sorry for the Anderson family and the others that got dragged through the mud.

  8. What is good is when the community thought Mikayla’s death was driven by larger social issues, the community came together to support the cause. What is sad is that when it became apparent that the cause may have been suicide the community did not make those same efforts to come together to try to make the same impact in helping teens thinking of suicide.

  9. Would it be prudent to get an accounting of the folks who attended the rally in the common in support of the conspiracy? At the very least it would show us who should not be eligible to run for any elected town position.. anyone who supported that rally lead by two criminal frauds shows a poor judge of character and lack of pragmatic, logical decision making by getting swept up in that manufactured scandal

    • I’m sure there are still plenty of pictures archived on the forever internet that would depict the elected members of our community standing tall in support of Monica Cannon Grant and her racist lies.

  10. It was horrific that a young person took their life. It always is. The fact that we were brought on a national stage and Ms Anderson and her mother , along with others, were vilified in news media, it was terrible. I watched the coverage of the now-disgraced Monica jeering at the townspeople and telling them to not just go home and “eat yo cheese sandwiches” while they clapped like a bunch of trained seals. A beautiful life was tragically lost, an absent mother spewed racist allegations, an ex-girlfriend was crying out for help for her. Stupid people clapping on the Common. Have any of those clapping seals done one single thing to address the root cause of what really happened beside put a sign in their yard? Doubt it.

  11. It is most unfortunate that some take a tragic situation and attempt to make political hay out of it. And then others come along and attempt to politicize it still further. Two years ago, or today, to attempt to capitalize on such an event is quite despicable.

    Equally disappointing is taking advantage of the excellent research and reporting done by HopNews and Peter Thomas to toss these bombs.

    “A plague on both your houses…”

  12. The racism and money grab came from the mother of the poor girl, Mikayla. No wonder the girl was depressed, with a mother who left her for long periods of time. A mother who slung her anti-white BS as she giddily set up her Go Fund Me, her money grab. Oh, and don’t get me started on Monica Cannon-Grant, who marched in there to throw her 2 cents in against her favorite rant: white people!!

  13. As a parent with two pre-teens in the school system I was and am still really struck about Mikayla’s death. I think about every single time I drive by the spot where she was found. I don’t blame a parent (whatever the issues that existed) from being highly emotionally distraught about the death of their child and taking support from where ever it comes.

    When I remember that time, I think there was a lot of national context that would focus speculation on racism, and as the article points out, that we never got to take a deep dive into what drove Mikayla to make that awful choice. We don’t know what she faced in school and still have a very murky picture of what she was dealing with at home. We also saw a lack of transparency (probably legally driven) from the district AG and police. Again, a lot of that may be protocol related, but in absence of strong public communication, a mob formed. And the result was what we see whenever a mob forms, poor judgement, rash allegations, no justice or thoughtful community discussion, and a lot of collateral damage.

    In this time of global (and national, and local) upheaval and crisis, a mob is quick to form over any number of emotionally charged issues. I hope we take this tragedy and turn it into a lesson about how we as a community react in the future. I hope community leaders think hard about how they can better communicate in a time of tragedy. And I hope we do that learning about Mikayla and how we can stop another teen from making that choice, because it’s happening too often here.

  14. Fantastic reporting! There are some high level officials in power today that stood tall with that racist Cannon-Grant. They need to issue apologies for all the harm they have caused in Hopkinton.

  15. It was insulting that Ayanna Pressly came to that rally and threw the Hopkinton Police under the bus. She furthered the false claim it was a racist issue. And when the truth came out there were crickets, no public nod to the professionalism shown by our town. Hopkinton was used as a soapbox to further a false narrative by someone who doesn’t even represent this district. Sham on her.

  16. Unfortunately, real fighters for racial justice lose out when corrupt opportunists move in on this kind of tragedy. For money. People of color deserve a much better restitution than this circus. Mikayla was an abused child. The police got that right. The only thing that makes sense to me is this; if we are to honor her, and honor our town, let’s not just dump the mess here for discussion; let’s talk about solutions for troubled teens. Let’s mend fences. How can Hopkinton be a cross section of America that can come together in diversity and common humanity , and resist the hatred and fear that is pulling at the roots of society?..

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