A Taylor County Sheriff’s Office investigator recently gave an Abilene television reporter more details about the last days of Mikayla Mitchell’s life.
The report confirms that Mitchell, the step daughter of Sherman pain doctor Howard Diamond, was the victim of a kidnapping and sex trafficking.
Investigator John Graham told the television news reporter on KTXS that he talked to Mitchell on July 10 after she escaped from a car in Merkel. Graham said Mitchell reported she had been taken by force by an unknown black man.
Mitchell’s body was found on July 16 in a Dallas creek bed.
On July 27, KTXS ran a story saying the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office had located a man who turned a phone in to a local phone store. The phone, the story said, was found in Abilene and had been linked to an abduction in the Permian Basin area of West Texas, which includes the Midland Odessa area. The news release said the abducted person had been located but did not identify her as Mitchell. The sheriff’s office didn’t release the name of the man who found the phone but said he was not a suspect.
Monday, Graham said the phone was examined and revealed photos of Mitchell that revealed that Mitchell was involved in child sex trafficking and “engaging in high risk behavior.” The photos led authorities to a specific hotel, but Graham did not name that hotel.
“An extreme level of violence had been committed against Mikayla,” Graham said to the television station.
The station said that Darnell Smith had been identified as a person of interest in Mitchell’s case but has not been charged with anything related to her death. On the same day that the station aired the story about the phone being found, Smith was arrested on a warrant issued under an indictment that was sealed at that time. That indictment, which has since been unsealed, charged Smith with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine base and marijuana. He pleaded guilty on Dec. 8, to drug related charges in federal court.
Diamond is still in jail awaiting trial on federal charges including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute charge. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges he faces. He has has also been charged with money laundering and abetting, distribution of controlled substances and health care fraud, and aiding and abetting. The charges also link Diamond’s prescriptions to the overdose deaths of seven people. His attorney issued a statement at the time of Mitchell’s death that said the two cases were not connected in any way.
Currently, jury selection is scheduled to begin in Diamond’s case in June.