Mother speaks out on Massingale’s death

Published 11:16 am Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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Kayla Massingale’s mother recently visited from Lexington to speak on her daughter’s death that has left many questioning inconsistencies reported by the Kentucky State Police.

Donna Massingale spoke to The Enterprise, hoping the truth could be brought to light.

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She began with Kayla’s Aug. 25 report of her rape from the night before.

“I go to work at 4 a.m., and I had sent her ‘good morning’ or something like that. About 4:36 a.m., she had texted me and said ‘mom, come home, I need you,’” she said. “But I told her I needed to know what was wrong. I couldn’t jump up and run, and that I would be back at my next break at 6 a.m. She texted me back that she had been raped.”

Massingale said she told her daughter to not shower and to go to the hospital and call the police, while she was being excused from work to travel to Harlan.

“She was telling me about the rape, and Kayla said she told the hospital to run tests and see what she was given because she felt like they had give her something,” she said.

Kayla described the amount of fluid she had discharged to her mother, noting blood was also present.

“I told her it might have been more than one, and that upset her so bad. We didn’t talk anymore about it. But it did sound like more than one,” Massingale said, indicating that more than one person might have raped her daughter.

Because Kayla believed she had been drugged, Massingale said her daughter could not fully remember who raped her, but she gave a name of the person she believed assaulted her that she had been with at a party. Kayla also spoke of someone close to her, who she believed to had been in the room watching the rape take place.

“They told her she might remember more and more as her memory comes back, but she felt like there was somebody else out of sight. She felt like someone else was there watching her,” she said.

After being discharged from the hospital Aug. 25, Massingale said Kayla went to Otis Doan’s law office to take an accident report on a previous car wreck she had been in.

“She thought if she got money back from it, she could pay Otis to help her get a divorce and custody of her child,” she said.

Kayla and her husband had separated in August and had been having marital issues, according to her mother, who has temporary custody of Kayla’s son.

Massingale said after Kayla’s visit with the lawyer, the two went to Walmart to purchase a new phone. Kayla told her mother she could not access her other one because of the people she had been around.

Kayla wanted to park her car somewhere with cameras while she rode to Walmart, according to Massingale, so the car was parked on the side of the Harlan County Courthouse near the sheriff’s office.

“She was really paranoid. It scared her. We went to Walmart and I got her a new phone, and when we came back to get her car, she was acting like she was afraid of it. She was so rattled,” Massingale said.

“She was looking under it to make sure they didn’t do anything to it. She couldn’t find her key so she had to walk back over to my vehicle. Kayla was standing on the side where the traffic was passing by, and a car went to drive by and she completely moved over on the other side of the car to find her key.”

Massingale said Kayla turned onto East Central Street, but put her car in park just before the red light because she thought the car was making weird noises before driving the rest of the way to her aunt’s house.

While Kayla was showering the next day, Massingale said she went to her sister’s room to talk.

“I didn’t hear Kayla hollering, but Liz thought it was her son, and she went to go see what he wanted. But, it was Kayla,” she said. “I never heard the conversation because I was still in the bedroom, but she told my sister that someone was going to kill her and she wanted a gun.”

Massingale said when Kayla went missing, none of the family knew anything was wrong except for a new Facebook account with Kayla’s name, which sent friend requests to some of her family.

“We wondered if it was even her or not. I said I would get a hold of her and ask her, but she never responded. Then the next day, I said, ‘Kayla, you never did tell me if you started a new Facebook account or not.’ I did send her ‘good morning’ around the 30th and somebody had responded back ‘good morning.’ They had her phone, but I didn’t know that anything was wrong. I thought she had sent me back ‘good morning,’ but she had actually been in the hospital for a few days and I didn’t even know.”

Later that day, Massingale was returning home from work when the police went by her sister’s house, leaving a message with one of the household member’s that they believed Kayla was identified as the Jane Doe at Hazard ARH.

“They didn’t say what had happened, but Liz had messaged me that I needed to call Post 10 about Kayla being in the ICU at Hazard. I called the police first and they wouldn’t tell me anything. They would say that they’d tell the one over the case to call me, but I wasn’t getting any calls. I was trying to figure out what was wrong and where she was, so I called the Hazard hospital, but where she was a Jane Doe, they didn’t have any listing of her,” Massingale said. “I told them they had told me she was there. I can’t tell you how many times I called the police station trying to get a hold of somebody, and they said he called me. I told them I was on the phone, and they told me that’s probably why I missed it, but I told them it still shows when someone’s calling me while I’m on the phone. I told them I could see if someone had tried to call, but I didn’t see where anyone had.”

Massingale was finally able to speak with someone who confirmed Kayla was at Hazard ARH, prompting her to Google the address and drive to the hospital.

Massingale said when they arrived at the hospital, staff had her and her son wear gowns, gloves, and masks because Kayla had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and was on life support.

“I think they told me she was really sick, and they didn’t really give her any chance. I think I asked them if there was brain activity and they said no, but they were going to do another test. We saw her move a few times, which gave me hope. I thought she was going to pull through. She had moved her face a little bit, and it looked like she was trying to raise up,” she said. “We prayed a lot with her. I believe she had prayed when she was going through everything she went through, too. She was brought up in church to believe in the Lord. I believe she knew to call upon God before she left this world.”

Massingale said Kayla’s injuries included scratched up arms, bruised hands, bruised knees, scratches and pricks on her feet, bleeding from her ears and a bruise across her jaw. Kayla’s backside was unable to be seen while laying in her hospital bed.

Remembering her own traumatic experience in early 2021 when she was attacked, Massingale felt as though the bruises on Kayla’s hands could have been from her trying to defend herself by blocking her face or head from being hit.

“It didn’t look like they were caused from just a fall. I feel like someone had assaulted her,” Massingale said. “She had blood coming out of her ears, and the nurse told me that was from head trauma. So when they told me she died of COVID, I knew it wasn’t just COVID. I knew there was more. I feel like someone had beat her.

“Someone had called the nurse while she was in the room with me and told them to be careful what they said because I was there. They told me she was found in a creek, and I didn’t know that because the policeman had just said she fell down an embankment.”

Massingale said she was told a surveillance camera on a nearby house recorded Kayla walking along Cliff Branch Road. The person disclosing information about the home’s camera was not shared to protect their privacy.

“It shows her looking behind her like someone was following her, and she hides behind a bush. Then her car comes up through there, but the police don’t tell you that her car followed her up through there,” she said. “I never got to watch it, but I was told about it.”

Massingale said prior to this recording, another camera at The Coal Bucket captured an image of Kayla getting out of the back seat of her own car.

“I didn’t recognize the clothes she had on. Those weren’t the clothes she left my sister’s house in. I can’t remember the blouse, but she had like a gray pair of pants on,” she said.

“Kayla got out of the back seat, and I thought that was so weird that she was in the back seat of her own car. The people that were driving the car were acting like they were looking for her. I think she got out because they were trying to take her somewhere she didn’t want to go. There’s something to all that — her being in the back seat of her car.”

Massingale said she had been wondering why Kayla was not flown to a trauma center.

“Evidently they just let her lay there because the ambulance was sent out an hour or more after she was found,” she said. “And someone in trauma and alive laying there like that for that long and didn’t even get a helicopter to fly her out. None of it makes sense.”

Massingale said she had turned her phone over to KSP for their investigation and was not able to get into her Facebook account until later on.

“I couldn’t remember my password, but my sister was able to get it back on this phone, and I have a hard time reading that stuff. I just can’t hardly read it. I read where somebody posted that she was tortured and it just tears me up. It actually rips my heart out, but I don’t know what would be a good word for how I feel,” she said.

“I just can’t believe someone could do her that way. She was the sweetest person you could probably ever meet. Always willing to help someone else. I hope the truth does come out about what happened to her.”

Locals have organized a group named Justice for Kayla in an effort to bring awareness to her case.

Created Sept. 17, the group has grown to more than 1,300 individuals, all of whom are working together to uncover more details behind Massingale’s death.

Followers have also developed a petition on to bring justice to Massingale. So far, the petition has 433 signatures.

This is an ongoing story. The Enterprise will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Previous stories covering the Massingale investigation are available at