Police believe more than one person was involved in Mikayla Mitchell’s death

Jerrie Whiteley, Herald Democrat
A Sherman yearbook photo of Mikayla M. Mitchell (courtesy photo)

A Dallas police detective Thursday said more than one person was likely involved in Mikayla Mitchell’s death.

DPD Detective Steven David said in such cases, it is common for at least one party to talk to someone else about what happened and he is hoping that someone else will come forward and tell authorities what they know about the death of the former Sherman High School student.

David said anyone with information about the case should call him at 214-283-4834.

“They can remain anonymous,” David said, noting he has spoken to around 25 people in the investigation and they range in age from 17 to 25 years old.

Mitchell’s body was found in a Dallas park back in July. No one has been charged with her death but David said Darnell Dwight Smith, also known as Slick Rick, is a person of interest in her death. David said earlier this week he is hoping that once people realize that Smith is in federal custody on drug related charges, they will be willing to open up about what they know about what happened to Mitchell.

David said he doesn’t know whether Mitchell died in Dallas or if she was killed elsewhere and transported to the Dallas park. Those are the kind of details he said authorities are hoping someone will be able to tell them. He does know that Mitchell was last seen on July 15 and found dead on July 16. He declined to say anything more about the cause of her death other than it was “homicidal violence” but said she had likely been dead from 12 to 15 hours before she was found.

A Taylor County Sheriff’s Office report shows that on July 10, 2017 at 1:49 a.m. Mitchell was the subject of a call to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department. The call asked that officers respond to a store called Skinny’s in Merkel about an assault. The report said 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.

David confirmed earlier this week that Mitchell was abducted from Midland and escaped in Merkel. He said just exactly why Mitchell was kidnapped was still “sketchy” at this point because Mitchell was not very forthcoming to law enforcement at that time. However, David said his investigation shows that “she had gotten mixed up with (Smith).”

The detective said one thing that is clear from his investigation is that Mitchell was involved in prostitution. When asked about what could lead someone to become involved in sex trafficking or prostitution, David the men involved in those types of crimes are skilled at picking young women who are not happy at home and talking them into doing things that they wouldn’t have done otherwise. David said sometimes those young women are able to realize their mistake and get out of that life and sometimes they are not.

Mitchell’s mother, Jennifer Diamond, has not answered emails or social media messages from the Herald Democrat this week requesting an interview. However, in August, Diamond responded to questions from the Herald Democrat via social media by saying she was not talking to any journalist or media “until the detectives have completed their investigation, and all three of those monsters are behind bars!”

At that time, Diamond went on to say that her daughter “was a beautiful young lady, inside and out, regardless of her rebellious nature” and that “her heart felt everything with such intense magnitude and passion!”

The mother also said her daughter was quick to forgive and always stood up for the underdog.

“She was just trusting to the wrong people,” Diamond said in August.

Earlier this week, David said it is also not true that the drug-related charges Smith faces have anything to do with the drug related charges faced by Mitchell’s stepfather, Dr. Howard Diamond.

Diamond faces charges including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, 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.

Diamond pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Herald Democrat reporter Drew Smith contributed to this report.