The female suspect who was responsible for fatally hitting a 22-year-old Indigenous woman with her vehicle and fleeing the scene seven months ago in Montana was identified as 28-year-old Sunny Kathrinne White.
White's 4- and 2-year-old children were suspected to have been inside the vehicle at the time of the deadly hit-and-run that killed Mika Josephine Westwolf, who was a member of the Blackfeet tribe.
White's children are named Aryan and Nation.
A filed affidavit detailing the deadly incident indicated Westwolf was struck head-on while walking home on Highway 93 near White Coyote Road outside of Arlee at 4:15 a.m. on March 31, 2023.
Seven months later on Saturday, White was arrested and charged with five felonies, including vehicular homicide while under the influence, according to Lake County court records.
White's other charges included accidents involving another person or deceased person, two counts of criminal child endangerment, and one charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
Tribal Police Officer T.J. Haynes was driving on Highway 93 just north of Arlee when he discovered a body and vehicle debris.
The affidavit stated:
“Evidence from the scene indicates that Westwolf was walking in the northbound lane of travel near the fog line when she was struck by the suspect vehicle."
The same morning at 5:23 a.m., a Lake County Deputy saw a gold 2008 Cadillac Escalade with front-end damage and missing a passenger-side rearview mirror.
The description allegedly was a match with the vehicular damage description provided by Haynes.
The Escalade was parked outside of Polson, according to the affidavit.
The Deputy saw a woman, who was later identified as White, offloading items from the beat-up Escalade into another vehicle. She claimed her car was overheating and said she had called a friend.
She "stated she had hit a deer and not stopped" but couldn't recall where it happened, according to the affidavit.
She also claimed "she was passing a bottle back to her baby and didn’t see the deer."
White told the Deputy she was driving with her children from Butte to Kalispell for the weekend.
Troopers learned after interviewing Westwolf's brother, Davian Howard, that the siblings drove to a bar in Ravalli on the evening prior to the deadly incident.
On the way back to Arlee, they stopped near North Valley Creek, which is located five miles north of the crash scene.
There, Weswolf left her phone in the vehicle and walked away.
He was unable to find her and left her a voicemail at 1:13 a.m.
The affidavit stated that according to cellphone data, White left Butte close to midnight and drove through Missoula around 2:45 a.m., and was at the car crash scene by 3 a.m.
White denied that she was drinking alcohol and added that she hadn't used "fentanyl or methamphetamine in the last week."
People were hardly surprised by White's behavior, given that her children's names were influenced by White nationalist views.
In spite of her denial, the Deputy believed she may have been under the influence of opiates.
The Deputy observed that White was "shaky on her feet" and "nodded off and fell in and out of sleep" in the back of his vehicle when he took her to the hospital to draw a blood sample.
However, when she refused to provide a blood sample, the Deputy was forced to obtain a search warrant for one.
When another search warrant was obtained for her vehicle, police found "a small makeup tube with methamphetamine inside," five syringes, and two unopened packs of Narcan.
Her blood sample came back positive for fentanyl and methamphetamine.
While Westwolf's family received closure after not having answers for seven months, they continued mourning her loss and started a "Mika Matters" movement to raise awareness and visibility of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP).
In the U.S., Native American women are more than 2.5 times as likely to experience violence than any other demographic, according to the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center's Policy Insights Brief.
They are also "at least 2 times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes–compared to all other races."
The family addressed the epidemic of MMIP violence in a statement on Friday, saying:
"As we mark seven months since Mika's tragic passing, it is essential to acknowledge that this arrest is just the beginning of the journey towards justice."
“The fight to seek accountability, raise awareness, and protect the lives of Indigenous people and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives remains an ongoing battle.
“Our hearts go out to the families who are still searching for their loved ones, and we remain deeply saddened by the fact that Native Americans continue to go missing at an alarming rate."
"The urgency to address this issue has never been greater."
White was arrested on an extra-jurisdictional warrant and was held on a $200,000 bond this past weekend.
She bonded out of jail on Sunday.
Lake County Attorney James Lapotka told People:
"I would like to thank the Montana Highway Patrol, the Flathead Tribal Police, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office for their hard work investigating this complex case."
An arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday at the Lake County courthouse.
Westwolf's family encouraged people to show up outside the courthouse Wednesday morning in support of the #MikaMatters cause.
A Facebook post by Rose Ardelle read:
"If you wish to show your support at the arraignment tomorrow at 9 am in Polson at the Lake County Courthouse, please wear a red Mika Matters or any Mika shirt to stand in solidarity with Mika's family and the movement."
"We believe that everyone deserves a fair chance, and we will continue to fight for justice and visibility for Mika and all Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives."
"The evidence is clear, and we will not rest until justice is served."
The post continued:
"We appreciate the outpouring of support from our community, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time."
"Your presence and your voices are instrumental in our pursuit of justice and a future where such heart-wrenching losses are prevented."
"Whether you are at the courthouse or elsewhere, posting a photo in your Mika shirt to show your solidarity is a powerful way to make a difference. Your support means the world to us."