PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The death of a Beaverton teen who was reported missing Monday afternoon and found Tuesday has officially been ruled a homicide.
Here’s what we know about the case of 13-year-old Milana Li so far:
Monday, May 9th
- Beaverton police say Li was reported missing at 1:12 p.m.
Tuesday, May 10th
- A little after 2 p.m. Beaverton Police officers responding to a “suspicious circumstances” call found Li’s body in a small stream in Westside Linear Park, near the intersection of SW Barrows Road and SW Horizon Boulevard.
- Friends and classmates of Li placed flowers near the place where her body was found and called the 13-year-old a “really good friend.”
Wednesday, May 11th
- A medical examiner conducted an autopsy on Li.
- Late in the day, Li’s death is officially ruled a homicide but officials did not disclose the exact manner of her death.
- Officials said that they do not believe there is a threat to the community.
Friday, May 20th
- After weeks of speculation and rumor, Beaverton Police announced that a juvenile has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Li’s disappearance.
How students are coping
As the investigation into Li’s death continues, children at Conestoga Middle School may be dealing with the death of a classmate for the first time. Navigating those feelings can be different for each student.
“It isn’t always dependent on how well or how close the student was to the actual incident,” Amy Baker, a social worker on special assignment with Beaverton School District, said.
BSD has provided more counselors to students at the Middle School to help them cope with the feelings around Li’s death. Counselors help take the load off staff at the impacted school and also create an added, special resource from what counselors may address during more normal times.
It starts with creating a support room for students. Any student can go to the room and when they come in, Baker says they’re assessed on how close they are to the death, their previous dealings with death, and how they are feeling in that moment.
“We’re going to get them back to class as soon as possible and the reason for that is kids thrive in a routine,” Baker said. “So, we want to support their reaction, get them put back together, and get them back to class. For those students who are super impacted, of course, we’re going to do other things to take care of them.”
Baker says reactions can vary by student, ranging from tears to even laughter. At the middle school age, students are often old enough to understand what death is, but not have the experience to know how to react to it.
“Middle school is unique because they are starting to have some of that maturity, but they’re also not quite there yet and can sometimes revert to sort of elementary-age behaviors and reactions when we have a tragedy,” Baker explained.
Counselors are trained to be as honest with the information as possible, and Baker says parents should be too.
They limit the information to what police and affected families say is alright to release, but Baker says hiding something from children can isolate them and it’s important to be “honest about what we can and can’t shield our children from.”
“Middle schoolers can see through a lie like nobody’s business,” Baker adds. “So, we need to be honest with our kids and realistic.”
A search for answers is natural for anyone, particularly students. The ways students can try and find information are more numerous now, and it’s important to limit how often social media pages are refreshed.
“Not only do they have access to rumors, it’s all kinds of other things that they may access on there. They can also be constantly looking for what’s the latest news,” Baker noted.
Baker said it’s important for parents to check in on their own emotions as well, in case they need help of their own. She says it can build a powerful connection when parents share what they’re struggling over with their children.
“Be a little bit more pushy about, ‘How are you today? I’m here for you. I want to hear about what you’re feeling.’ Because they’re going to need that if they’re impacted by a tragedy,” Baker said.
Baker says the Dougy Center can be helpful for families and refers to their checklist for how to help kids through tragedy.
KOIN 6 News reporter Brandon Thompson contributed to this story.