Arrest made in Mia Kanu case

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published October 3, 2023



SOUTHFIELD — “She was beautiful inside and out,” Mia Kanu’s mother, Biana VanMeter, tearfully said at a press conference Southfield police held to update the public about Kanu’s untimely death.

“She was just a very kind person, and from other people saying, ‘I thought it was over for me until I met Mia.’ And it was multiple people. And it was from different groups of friends. She just had a large group of friends. And everybody loved her.”

Kanu, 23, died June 5, just two days after police found her in the middle of Providence Drive, in front of the Coach House Apartments, at 4:29 a.m.

Months after the passing of the Tennessee State University veterinary student, Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren held a press conference Sept. 21. Barren detailed the events that occurred on the night of June 3.

Kanu had attended a house party with friends while home from college for the summer. She left the party with her friend, 23-year-old Kentia Fearn, the owner and driver of a 2022 silver Jeep Compass that Kanu fell from. Kanu was the backseat passenger of Fearn’s vehicle. Police showed surveillance footage from the night of the accident that revealed that Fearn continued to drive after Kanu fell from the vehicle.

Barren showed the video, and he expressed his anger and disappointment surrounding the circumstances of Kanu’s death, asking what kind of friend doesn’t stop driving to turn the vehicle around to tend to a friend.

“What kind of friend is that?” Barren said.

Barren said there is no evidence to suggest that Kanu jumped from the vehicle. Her autopsy and toxicology report revealed that alcohol was found in her blood and was at 0.21%. Barren added that evidence suggests that Kanu may have been in the process of vomiting, as vomit was found in the seal of the door and in the roadway. Police also found a key fob to the Jeep, and Kanu’s phone. Barren stated that two separate search warrants were obtained: one to search the vehicle, and one for the Uconnect system. The vehicle was dusted for prints, revealing that only Kanu’s fingerprints were in the backseat. No blood evidence was found inside the vehicle.

Fearn reported to police that following Kanu’s fall, she picked up a friend from a nearby apartment complex, and together, the two searched for Kanu. Fearn told police she noticed ambulance and police lights in the area of the incident but did not approach. Later that day, at 12:25 p.m., police said, Fearn went to the Southfield Police Department with a friend and said a physical altercation had occurred between her and her boyfriend while Kanu was asleep in the backseat. She stated that her boyfriend took her phone and drove off in his vehicle. She then tried following his vehicle to retrieve her phone, but was unsuccessful in doing so. Fearn allegedly took Kanu’s phone to contact another friend, and reported that Kanu woke up and grabbed her phone back, and later fell from the vehicle.

“The impact from the fall from the vehicle is the result of how Mia sustained her injury,” Barren said.

After the fall, police said, Fearn visited the Detroit Police 5th Precinct to report her phone stolen — hours before she reported to Southfield police what had happened to Kanu. Detroit police noted that Fearn was intoxicated when she made the report.

Barren said that evidence shows that Fearn was more concerned about getting her phone back from her boyfriend than calling 911 and tending to Kanu.

Fearn was arrested Sept. 19, and the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office announced Sept. 20 that Fearn was charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and operating while intoxicated. The first charge is a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000. The second is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days imprisonment and/or up to a $500 fine.

An attorney for Fearn could not be reached for comment at press time.

“The law requires anyone involved in an accident to stop and immediately report the accident to authorities. Leaving the scene when someone is seriously injured or dies is a felony. My office will hold those who do so accountable,” Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald stated in a press release.

“We wanted everyone to know that Mia loved Kentia,” said Lucina Reyes, Kanu’s grandmother. “So that’s what hurt, for her to just leave her there.”

At the press conference, Kanu was remembered by friends and family as “God-fearing,” “kind,” and a “bright soul.”