1 year later, Mitchell case remains open

Jerrie Whiteley, Herald Democrat
Mikayla Mitchell

More than a year after a former Sherman High School student was found dead in a Dallas creek, no arrest has been made.

Seventeen year old Mikayla Mitchell was found in a creek in a Dallas park on July 16 of last year. At the time, authorities would only say she died from homicidal violence.

In a telephone conversation last week, Dallas Police Det. Steven David said Darnell Dwight Smith, also known as “Slick Rick,” who has been arrested and jailed on federal drug charges, remains a person of interest in the case.

“I don’t want to say we are at square one, but we haven’t filed a case against anyone at this time,” David said, adding anyone with information about the case should call him at 214-283-4834.

David said he was hoping someone would have come forward and talked about the case by now. David said he thinks there are still young women in the Sherman and Denison area, who know something about the case and could help. The Dallas Police detective said he had hoped hearing Smith is likely to draw a lengthy sentence on the unrelated drug case might have helped those young women feel comfortable enough to talk, but that has not happened yet.

In a previous interview, David said he doesn’t know whether Mitchell died in Dallas or if she was killed elsewhere and transported to the park. Those are the kind of details he said authorities are hoping someone will be able to tell them. He does know Mitchell was last seen on July 15 and found dead on July 16. He 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 asking officers to respond to a store called Skinny’s in Merkel concerning 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 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 the time. However, David said his investigation shows “she had gotten mixed up with (Smith).”

Smith was indicted in August for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine base and marijuana. He then pleaded guilty on Dec. 8, to drug related charges in federal court.

David said the Mitchell case remains open and active and will as long as he is working for the Dallas department. He said there are some other things he is going to try to do with regard to Smith and the people around him to move the case forward, but did not elaborate on those.

A check of the federal court database showed Smith has filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and has asked to be allowed to get a new attorney. In the letter asking Federal Magistrate Judge Christine Nowak to allow him to seek a new attorney, Smith said he is innocent of the drug charges he faces. Nowak denied that motion but Wednesday added Sherman attorney Micah Belden to Smith’s defense team.

Smith’s attorney of record in the case, Phillip A. Linder, was in court Wednesday and did not return phone calls or emails seeking comment on David’s assertion Smith is a person of interest in Mitchell’s death.