3/6/2018 - Sherman, TX -- A beautiful young teenage girl, whose body was discovered last year in a Texas pond, was most likely a victim of sex trafficking, according to authorities.
Around 11:40 a.m. on July 16, 2017 the body of 17-year-old Mikayla M. Mitchell (aka, Mikayla Owen) was found by a passerby in a small pond in Blair Park in Dallas. Mitchell was not positively identified for two days.
The coroner listed Mitchell's manner of death as "homicidal violence." Details released later indicated that Mitchell had been stabbed several times.
Several news outlets have reported that Mitchell had been tortured prior to her death and partially dismembered. One investigator is quoted as saying, an "extreme level of violence had been committed against Mikayla Mitchell."
Mitchell was buried July 24, 2017 at West Hill Cemetery. You can read Mitchell's obituary at this link.
Law enforcement had already been in contact with Mitchell just days before her murder, when, around 2 a.m. in Merkel, TX, Mitchell jumped from a vehicle and ran into Skinny's, a convenience store, begging for help. Mitchell reportedly told the store clerk she had been kidnapped and assaulted.
Despite obvious bruises to her face, detectives claim Mitchell was unwilling to cooperate with their investigation into her kidnapping and assault.
Soon after Mitchell's murder, her cellular phone was discovered in an AT&T store after a Good Samaritan found it and turned it in. When investigators examined the phone they found disturbing images and videos that lead them to believe Mitchell was a victim of child sex trafficking. One detective has gone so far as being quoted by the media as saying, "one thing that is clear from this investigation is that Mitchell was involved in prostitution." Investigators eventually were able to identify the exact hotel where the images originated.
"Mikayla was real hesitant to provide details but was very adamant that she didn't want her stepfather to know what was going on," said Taylor County Sheriff's Office Investigator, John Graham.
Police contacted Mitchell's mother, who drove from Sherman, TX to Merkel to bring her daughter home. Unfortunately, Mitchell didn't stay with her parents for long and reportedly left the next day after expressing fear that harm might come to them if she stayed.
Mitchell's parents have been identified as Jennifer Diamond and Dr. Gregg Diamond, 56. Mitchell's step-father, Dr. Gregg Diamond was federally indicted, just a week before Mitchell was killed, on criminal charges he conspired with others to write prescriptions for painkillers without a legitimate medical reason. Dr. Gregg Diamond reportedly runs pain management clinics in Sherman and Paris, TX under the name Diamondback Pain and Wellness Center. Federal prosecutors allege at least seven overdose deaths in Texas and Oklahoma are attributed to Dr. Diamonds criminal activity. Dr. Diamond is also accused of defrauding Medicare of tens of thousands of dollars by filing false claims.
Initially some people questioned whether or not Mitchell's stepfather's criminal activity may have some connection to Mitchell's murder. Dr. Diamond's criminal defense attorney has adamantly denied his client had any role in his step-daughter's death.
According to KXII Ch12, Dr. Gregg Diamond is facing a charge of domestic violence for allegedly abusing Mitchell in January of 2017. According to the Grayson County District Attorney, Joe Brown, the beating of Mitchell by Dr. Gregg Diamond was captured on video. Brown stated that in the video Dr. Diamond was disciplining Mitchell while Mitchell's uncle, Sam Owen, recorded it on a cell phone. Court records indicate the 'discipline' consisted of Dr. Diamond in the kitchen punching and kicking Mitchell in the back. Later in the video Mitchell had retreated to her bedroom and Dr. Diamond can be heard yelling, "I'm your step-dad I can touch you". And Mitchell reply, "No you can't", as well Mitchell's mom, Jennifer Diamond say, "Don't hit her." A final video is said to show Dr. Diamond pushing his wife away as he lunges towards Mitchell, who is standing on the staircase of their home. Police were subsequently called to the Diamond home the day of the incident
When police arrived, Dr Diamond had left the home and would only talk to investigators over the phone. Dr. Diamond reportedly told police the incident started when he refused to allow Mitchell to have a cousin over at their house. Police noted that Mitchell had a half dollar sized knot above one ear, marks on her chest and a large red mark that appeared to be a foot imprint on her back.
Dr, Diamond reportedly has a prior conviction of disorderly conduct stemming from a domestic incident involving his wife in 2015.
Dr. Diamond has also had victim's protective orders issued against him by both his ex-wife and current wife.
Dr. Diamond was reportedly previously treated for sex addiction.
Dr. Diamond also reportedly is in debt to the IRS for at least $89,000 for failure to file federal taxes.
Dr. Diamond's domestic assault case involving Mitchell is now taking a back seat to his federal charges.
Diamond is currently being held in the Fannin County Jail and faces up to life in prison if convicted of his prescription and fraud related crimes.
On July 13, 2017, the day after she escaped her kidnappers, Mitchell posted the following to her personal Facebook page.
Since Mitchell's murder, authorities have named at least one person of interest - felon drug dealer Darnell Dwight "Slick Rick" Smith, 32, of Sherman, TX. Smith's name came up during a detention hearing regarding his recent arrest for drug dealing. An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified that a man named Semaj Orum said he and Smith had gone to Odessa, TX in early July to kidnap a woman. Orum stated that he and Smith experienced car trouble and that the girl they kidnapped used that as an opportunity to escape into a gas station. Orum told authorities he and Smith fled before police arrived - that woman is believed to be Mitchell.
Smith's criminal record includes convictions for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, and assault and injury to a child in Dallas.
Investigators have said little about the case but have indicated that Mitchell knew Smith before her suspected abduction by him.
It is believed Mitchell met Smith when she ran away from home a couple of months before her murder.
Smith has not yet been charged with any crime associated with Mitchell's murder.
Smith is currently in federal prison on an unrelated drug distribution conviction.
Records show that Mitchell dropped out of Sherman High School in May 2016. Mitchell had attended the school district since kindergarten.
Mitchell's mother spoke out for the first time in January when she was interviewed by KXII Ch12.
"Mikayla was a very strong willed child from the beginning," said Mitchell's mom Jennifer Diamond.
"She was a ham," Diamond said. "She was always posing for pictures and I loved to take pictures."
"She had a strong love for God," Diamond said. "She touched a lot of people because of her compassion that she held inside and she was so compassionate for other people. She had a big heart."
Diamond admitted though that something went wrong with her daughter after she started running with a bad crowd. Diamond said her daughter became associated with a group involved in sex trafficking and ended up running away and going to Abilene.
Diamond said Mitchell called her and she went to Abilene to bring her home. But she soon left again and was back running around with a criminal element that eventually started prostituting her throughout Texas.
Diamond claims that when her daughter tried to leave her traffickers last July that she was kidnapped and escaped in Merkel, TX just days before her murder.
Diamond claims that her daughter was lured into prostitution by promises of a lavish lifestyle, but instead, she was tortured.
"The detective said 'ma'am you're daughter is dead,' and I started screaming and screaming at the top of my lungs," Diamond told KXII Ch12.
Smith is currently listed as a suspect in Mitchell's abduction and person of interest in her murder.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment.
Tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS. Information can also be provided directly to Detective Steven David. Anyone with information regarding this crime is encouraged to contact Detective David at 214-671-3627 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reference criminal case number 161562-2017.