Police seek clues in girl's beating death

Body found on city street hours after shopping trip

March 10, 2004|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Having just completed a 28-day stay at a drug treatment center to overcome a marijuana addiction, 15-year-old Antiona Mills went shopping Sunday afternoon for new school clothes to make a fresh start.

Barely 15 hours later, the teen-ager was discovered beaten to death - naked and wrapped in a sheet on a Northwest Baltimore street, police say.

The death has shocked a family that believed the teen-ager had begun to focus on reshaping her life. "She was just a happy-go-lucky girl," said Marylin Mills, 62, Antiona's grandmother. "She didn't deserve to die."

Police appealed yesterday to the public for help in solving the killing. Last seen by her grandmother about 4 p.m. Sunday during the shopping trip at Westside Shopping Center in the 2400 block of Frederick Ave., Antiona's body was discovered by two men about 7 a.m. Monday in the 2500 block of Talbot Road in Northwest Baltimore. When she had left her grandmother, the girl had said she was heading for Mondawmin Mall, family members said.

Antiona was found with her feet bound in cloth, and she was wrapped in bed linens that did not come from her grandmother's house, where the teen-ager lived.

Sgt. Clifton McWhite of the city homicide squad said detectives believe Antiona was left on the street only minutes before she was found. McWhite said police had no clues in the case and that an autopsy determined she had been beaten to death.

Antiona - who called herself Antania - was a "sassy" girl who had run into trouble in middle school and associated with the wrong crowd, family members said.

"She was a mischievous child in some ways," said her mother, Annette Mills, 32. "She has never been in any real trouble. She just followed the crowd. ... She was just a baby and had a sassy mouth."

Known by family members as "Niaa," Antiona was planning to resume ninth-grade classes Monday at Southwestern High School after successfully completing the drug program last week at a treatment center in Baltimore, Annette Mills said.

Antiona had lived with her grandmother since she was a baby because her mother was too young to care for her, family members said.

The teen-ager did well in elementary school. She enjoyed writing poetry and was a majorette with the Baltimore Westsiders marching band as a youngster. She quit the group about two years ago.

"She was really good, she was an excellent performer," said Jeff W. Pitts, the band's founder.

By the time she entered Calverton Middle School, Antiona's demeanor and attitude had begun to change for the worse. She also began hanging out with a rough crowd and was transferred from school to school until enrolling this year at Southwestern, her grandmother said.

When she left her grandmother during Sunday's shopping trip to try a different mall and did not return that night, family members said they were not overly concerned. They knew Antiona previously had spent days away from home.

"I was always telling her that all of her friends weren't friends," Marylin Mills said. "They are enemies."

Family members said a candlelight vigil is planned at 7 p.m. today in the 600 block of N. Bentalou St.

"Somebody out there knows what happened," Annette Mills said. "We have to save our children."

Anyone with information about the death is urged to call McWhite or Detective Irvin Bradley at 410-396-2100.

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