Back on July 16 as the area was reading about Howard Diamond, a local pain doctor whose practice was in upheaval amid allegations of over prescribing and seven overdose-related deaths, news broke that the Mikayla Mitchell, Diamond’s stepdaughter, had been found dead in a Dallas creek.
Piecing together police reports, court documents and testimony given during hearings, it looks like Mitchell’s life in the weeks before her death involved being physically abused and possibly kidnapped.
On the day the news of her death broke, the Herald Democrat began asking questions of public officials about where Mitchell was prior to her death and what exactly happened to her. In an effort to get those answers, the Herald Democrat sent out Freedom of Information Act requests and called or emailed dozens of members of law enforcement from Dallas to Midland Odessa and back.
The Dallas Police Department said her death was attributed to homicidal violence. The department has said very little about the case since.
Howard Diamond’s attorney Pete Schulte issued a statement saying the doctor’s legal dramas had nothing to do with his step daughter’s death.
Records obtained by the Herald Democrat show that law enforcement was involved in Mitchell’s life prior to the discovery of her body in that Dallas Creek.
A Taylor County Sheriff’s Office report shows that on July 10, 2017 at 1:49 a.m. Mikayla Maree Mitchell was the subject of a call that came in to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department. The call asked that officers respond to a store called Skinny’s in Merkel, Texas, about an assault. The report said that Mitchell “had visible marks on her face as if she had been hit.” The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office refused to release any further details about the incident because the Dallas Police Department has an ongoing investigation open concerning Mitchell. However, the TCSO report listed a man named Darnell Smith as a suspect in the case.
On July 24, Justin Holbert, a special agent with the ATF, swore out a complaint against Darnell Smith, that said Smith had been involved in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine in Grayson County from March 27. During Smith’s detention hearing on those charges, Holbert testified that a person named Semaj Orum told investigators that he had accompanied Smith to Odessa and on that trip, there was a kidnapping. Holbert said that the kidnapped individual escaped at a gas station when Smith and Orum had car trouble and that they fled before the police arrived.
On July 27, Smith was arrested on a warrant issued under an indictment that was, at that time, sealed. It has since been unsealed and charges him with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, cocaine base and marijuana.
On Dec. 8, Smith, who is also known as “Slick Rick,” entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to the drug related charges he faced. A hearing on that plea agreement is set for 9:20 a.m. on Dec. 28.
The Herald Democrat has asked Mikayla Mitchell’s mother Jennifer Diamond for an interview about Smith’s involvement in her daughter’s life, but Jennifer Diamond refused that request.