Mia Kanu, 23, came home from college last month for her summer vacation in Michigan. She was studying to become a veterinarian, her mother Bianca Vanmeter said.
But in the early morning hours of June 3, Kanu’s dreams of helping animals came to a tragic end when, according to police, her body was found lying in the middle of the road in Southfield, about 15 miles northwest of Detroit.
“I don’t know what happened” Vanmeter told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network. But a candlelight vigil is planned for Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at Inglenook Park in Southfield.
According to Southfield police, officers responded to Providence Drive, where she was found, at approximately 4:32 a.m. on June 3 due to reports of a body found lying in the roadway in front of an apartment complex. That body later was identified as Kanu.
She was taken to nearby Ascension Providence Hospital, where she stayed on life support for two days, her mother said. She was pronounced dead on June 5, but put back on life support until June 8, when the hospital held a walk of life for Kanu, because she was an organ donor.
“There was no brain activity,” her mother said. “Her liver went to a baby, her kidneys went to a recipient and her tissues and muscles were donated to the Gift of Life. … She just looked like a beautiful angel laying in bed” she said of when she went to identify her daughter’s body.
Authorities say they do not know how Kanu’s body ended up in the roadway, but they are treating the investigation as a homicide. The driver of the vehicle Kanu was in before being found is cooperating, said Sgt. Jared Womble, a spokesperson for the Southfield department.
“Anytime that there is an unnatural death, and especially concerning a young person, it is looked at as a homicide,” Womble said.
Her last days, according to her mother
Vanmeter says the last time she saw her daughter alive was on the morning of June 2, before she went to work. On the night of her death, Kanu had been hanging out with friends at a house party, according to Vanmeter.
Before hanging out, Kanu had been picked up from work at the Green Lantern in Berkley by a female friend, who Vanmeter said had been staying at her house with her and her daughter. The vehicle that Vanmeter said picked her daughter up from work was the same vehicle that was involved in the incident.
Southfield police confirmed that there is video footage of the incident. The Detroit Free Press has requested the footage of that night’s incident from the Southfield Police Department.
Vanmeter says her daughter was a lover of all things that could light up a person’s life. But her daughter’s first love was animals. She even adopted a cat she named Tails while at Tennessee State University.
“I remember telling her when she got home from school, ‘girl, this cat is raunchy,’ ” her mother said laughing.
Kanu loved kids, singing, dancing and doing hair, her mother said. She spent time working as a camp counselor in Southfield while on college breaks. She also enjoyed reading books because, her mother said, Kanu enjoyed the smell of the pages.
Before coming home in May for summer break, Kanu was a part of the TSU Agriculture Department. She had spent time working on a farm caring for various animals, and she currently was a veterinarian tech at Richland Animal Clinic in Tennessee.
A spokesperson for the clinic said Kanu was a great person and great teammate. The staff is devastated about her death. They said Kanu was loved by all the clients and the pets.
“Kanu was very passionate about educating pet owners about pet care,” said Dawn Elza, manager of Richland Animal Clinic. “She knew all the names and personalities of all the pet boarders that would board regularly with us, and she had big goals and dreams of having her own business and being a veterinarian.”
According to Vanmeter, her daughter wasn’t planning to come home for her summer break. She was so sad to leave her job at Richland for her break, that even after she put in her two-week notice, Kanu slept in her car for the last two days of her employment so she could go to work and finish her commitment to the animals.
“She was like ‘who is going to walk the dogs?’ ” Vanmeter recalled.
Now, Vanmeter and her family say they are distraught, trying to plan a funeral while also trying to find out what happened to Kanu.
“She loved it there (at TSU)” her mother said. “She was already counting the days for when she could go back to school.”
Authorities say the incident is still under investigation and they are waiting on the autopsy results to determine the cause of death. Kanu is survived by her mother, father, a stepmother, four sisters, a brother and a host of other relatives and friends.
A GoFundMe has been set up in Kanu’s honor to help her family with funeral expenses.
Credit: USA Today