Vigil held for teen killed by drunk driver • Toddler found in getaway van after robbery • Whitmer-Dixon poll

On Thursday a Metro Detroit mother marked the one-year anniversary of her daughter's death from a drunk driver. Last night a vigil was held to honor the life of 17-year-old Mia Howard.

"Very insightful, caring, loving," her mother Kristina Beaver said.

Mia Howard had no shortage of friends - and she had a lot of things she wanted to do.

"She wanted to graduate high school and become a dental hygenist," said Jessica Mitchell, her sister.

Mia Howard was a 17-year-old at Allen Park High School.

Mia Howard was a 17-year-old at Allen Park High School. 

Mia was a senior at Allen Park High School. Her young life cut short when she was hit and killed head-on by a man who police say was intoxicated, with a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.

"I want what happened to her and her story to be told and to be known," her mother said.

Exactly one year after the crash, her family and friends gathered close to the airport — at Middle Belt near Goddard in Romulus — the same place where Mia lost her life on the night of September 22nd, 2021.

A roadside memorial for Mia Howard.

A roadside memorial for Mia Howard.

"Everyone is here tonight honoring Mia, loving Mia, and feeling Mia and her presence with all of us and never forgetting what an impact she had on everyone’s lives who is here," Beavers said.

The night of the tragedy she was driving to New Boston to take her cousin home. Mia's cousin survived, but her emotional scars will last a lifetime.

Everyone here tonight just wishes the driver of the other car would have made a different choice.

Suspect Robert Merritt

Suspect Robert Merritt

"It’s 100 percent preventable," Mitchell said. "All you have to do is make a plan - you don’t have to not drink, just don’t drink and get behind the wheel."

The driver, Robert Merritt from Romulus, is charged with second-degree homicide, operating under the influence causing death and reckless driving causing death. He is scheduled to be in court this January. 

Mia Howard was a 17-year-old at Allen Park High School.

Mia Howard was a 17-year-old at Allen Park High School. 

Child found in suspect van that fled Bloomfield Township home invasion

Four suspects were arrested following a high speed chase that ended in a crash in Troy. The individuals had been at a Bloomfield Township residence breaking into the home when police came upon the robbery.

Police had gotten a call from the homeowner who saw the thieves on their home surveillance camera and responded to the residence while the suspects were in the act. As they approached the home, an individual was seen running from the home toward a van parked outside the address. He ignored orders to stop and instead entered the van, which then sped from the police.

Police first pursued the vehicle before calling off the chase over safety concerns. Troy police later took up the chase, following the suspect van until it crashed. Inside, they found a 2-year-old believed to be a child of one of the suspects.

While investigating the vehicle, police found three firearms, including one that was listed as stolen last year in Colorado. Police also found four key fobs and a purse believed to have been taken during a different home invasion in Bloomfield Township. 

Read about the chaotic scene here.

Whitmer's lead grows over Dixon in latest survey

The latest Detroit Free Press statewide survey shows that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is favored by 16 points over her Republican opponent in the Michigan governor race, Tudor Dixon. Pollster Bernie Porn reports that  Dixon is winning on 41% of the issues important to voters, but Whitmer is winning on 56% of those.

"Republicans are winning among those who choose inflation, as well as government spending and the economy and jobs, but Whitmer and the democrats are winning on all the other issues," Porn said. That includes abortion, where Whitmer is winning over 79% of those who rank it as their top issue.  

He said the governor has a 42-point lead with independent female voters. Pollster Steve Mitchell thinks the abortion issue is being blown out of proportion on motivating the vote for Whitmer. "I'm not seeing, and I've been looking for it real hard, this huge momentum among pro-choice voters to get to the polls, but I'm also seeing strong movement for the pro-life part of it as well," Mitchell said.

Both Porn and Mitchell say the race isn't over yet, despite what the surveys show. For instance, polls showed former governor Jim Engler losing by 20 points, but he beat challenger Jim Blanchard by 17,000 votes. 

More on the governor's race here.

Southfield pro-life pregnancy center vandalized with death threats

A pregnancy center in Oakland County was targeted by vandals and police believe a known extremist group -- may be responsible. "We believe that all life is sacred. We believe it starts at conception," said Mark McGrath, chairman of the board. And it’s those beliefs that made Mother and Unborn Baby Care a target for vandals, not once but twice. 

A threatening message was left saying "'If abortion is not safe neither are you,'" he said. "And you can still see the neither right there." McGrath is taking that as a threat from two women wearing hoods and armed with spray paint last Friday, hitting the location off Southfield Road near 10 Mile Road.  

The group is considering bolstering security - but said its employees were in a "state of shock right now" and it had put people on high alert. They were first targeted shortly after the Supreme Court's Roe V Wade decision was announced. 

In spite of the vandalism, they are still open, servicing about 200 women a year. A militant, extremist abortion rights group known as "Jane’s Revenge" has been behind similar crimes around the country. It’s being investigated by police if it is connected to the incident in Southfield.

Find more images of the suspects here

Detroit police discuss crime solutions at town hall

The Detroit police held a town hall with cops, clergy, activists and most importantly everyday residents at Detroit Edison Academy to talk solutions to the crime that so many know all too well. There have been 221 homicides so far this year – and while that’s less than the same point last year, more children have been killed in 2022 than the year prior.

"The problem is, I can't interfere when two men have a legitimate beef," said Phil Sample of Ceasefire Outreach. "But when babies are getting shot, when old elderly women sitting at a table having lunch (are) getting shot, that's a problem." Panelists including Chief James White acknowledged the way forward won't be simple. 

Tackling the issues requires addressing causes of poverty and mental health, two pervasive factors in many crimes that police respond to. White said they're trying expungement fairs and educational opportunities to keep people in school. The plan does include expanding technology like ShotSpotter. 

Cornelius Webb, of Detroit Friends and Family, says he plans to share what he heard tonight back to the street in his community. "Because of us, we came here, we heard a voice and we're going to take that voice back to our neighborhood," he said. White said the turnout showed that residents have not thrown in the towel when it comes to crime in the city. 

Attendees had much more to say to police. Go here for more.

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Daily Forecast

Fall is here and it is chilly. Or, at least feels chilly after a more than 40-degree swing in temperatures that were being felt this week. Friday will be the prettiest of the weekend before a little rain and some clouds Saturday, along with more inclement weather Sunday.

What else we're watching

  1. The Michigan Science Center will be open Saturday for free. The admission change is part of a special "Youth Design" Free Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. While the event is sold out online, thee will be some available on a first-come-first-serve basis. 
  2. A Detroit Football coach who was imprisoned in China is back in the city and fulfilling his purpose. The story of Wendell Brown made national headlines, and now he's prepared to share his experiences in a new memoir.
  3. The white bear that was spotted in the UP was killed by wolves, the Facebook group that posted the images said. Evidence of the bear was found when some white fur matching the animal was seen just days after it showed up on a trail camera.
  4. Construction is about to begin on the second major leg of the Joe Louis Greenway Friday. A half-mile section of recreation will be built from Grand River to Fullerton. So far, 2,200 tons of waste and 200 tires have already been removed during the clean-up.
  5. Donald Trump Jr. and Kellyanne Conway are stumping for Tudor Dixon this Friday, where the two conservative firebrands will deliver remarks during separate events in Troy and Muskegon.

Scientists say waist-to-hip ratio better measure for healthy weight than BMI

A new study is calling into question the validity of body mass index (BMI) as a practical way of measuring healthy weight in patients. 

Researchers for the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm say waist-to-hip ratio, and not body mass index is a better measure of healthy weight which may also predict early death better than BMI. 

Scientists say the new method should replace BMI, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention commonly cites as a preferable tool to analyze weight and health. 

BMI is calculated by taking a person's weight in kilograms and dividing by the square of height in meters, with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 considered healthy. But this measurement doesn't take into account fat distribution, the researchers said.