GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s been 18 months since Jill Fox lost her only child to an accidental fentanyl overdose.
She’s still seeking justice for her daughter.
Izabel Fox, described as a compassionate and creative free spirit, was just five days shy of her 20th birthday when she died.
Izzy, as she’s known to friends and family, thought she had purchased Percocet, a painkiller.
Instead, she ingested the deadliest opioid — fentanyl — and it killed her.
“Paige brought my daughter home dead and has been running for a year and a half,” said Jill Fox from the living room of her Alto home.
She’s referring to Paige Nicole Kirby, the woman who was with Izabel Fox when she fatally overdosed.
Kirby, who’s 25 and from Saginaw, had met Izabel Fox six months earlier when they both attended a Kalamazoo County rehab facility.
Jill Fox said her daughter was being treated for alcohol abuse, though she’d dabbled in other drugs too.
“Izzy was a typical 19-year-old, experimenting and having fun,” she explained. Still, Fox was concerned about Izzy’s substance abuse, which she said became a problem during the COVID-19 quarantine. It’s what prompted Fox to place Izzy in the rehab facility where she met Paige Kirby.
According to the police report, Jill Fox told investigators she was worried about Kirby’s visit because she believed her to be a poor influence on her daughter.
HER HEART WAS ‘TOO BIG FOR THIS WORLD’
Still, Fox told News 8 that her daughter, who loved art, music, fashion, and traveling, had a bright and limitless future.
At 19, Izzy had already completed two years of community college, where she made the Dean’s List, all the while working as a seamstress in the family’s leotard business.
“People said she was the nicest person they’d ever met. Everyone said that, and she really was,” recalled her mom. “Izzy was very compassionate, very empathetic. Her heart was almost too big for this world. It really was.”
On May 7, 2021, Kirby came to town and visited Izabel Fox at her apartment on Greenfield Circle Drive northeast in Grand Rapids. She brought two men with her. Izabel Fox’s roommate, Natalie VanDyke, was there when Izabel Fox, Kirby and the two men left for a quick trip to a liquor store three minutes from the apartment.
More than an hour later, the women had yet to return, and VanDyke was worried. So was Izabel Fox’s mom, who’d arrived at the apartment for a planned visit with her daughter.
‘I FOUND HER COLD IN THE PASSENGER SEAT’
Jill Fox told Target 8 when Kirby finally pulled up to the apartment, she did not immediately exit the vehicle.
“Then, all of a sudden, you see Paige running up to the apartment, and I knew right then,” recalled Jill Fox, through tears.
“I just ran towards the car, because I knew. ‘Where’s my Izzy,’ and then I found her cold in the passenger seat. I knew. So I just called 911,” said Jill Fox, struggling as she recalled the excruciating pain of that moment.
She said her call was the first anyone placed to 911 that night.
That’s despite Kirby telling police Izabel Fox had been “passed out for approximately seven minutes before they arrived at (Izzy’s) apartment,” according to the police report obtained by Jill Fox.
Fox disputes Kirby’s timeline.
She believes her daughter was unconscious for longer than seven minutes because Izzy was already cold and blue when she found her in the passenger seat.
According to the police report, Kirby also told investigators Izabel Fox said she felt “dizzy” at the liquor store and later began driving erratically. She had been driving Kirby’s car because Kirby’s license had been suspended. When she began behaving oddly behind the wheel, Kirby told investigators they pulled over so she could take over the driving.
“(Kirby) sees Izabel does not appear well and tries to find a hospital but doesn’t know the area,” wrote a Grand Rapids police officer in his report, quoting Kirby. “(Paige) decided to drive back to Izabel’s apartment where she sees Izabel Fox’s mother. At this time, Izabel is unresponsive.”
Jill Fox said Kirby later admitted she’d noticed Izzy’s mom trying to call her daughter, but Izzy was already passed out, and Kirby told Fox she did not know how to answer Izzy’s phone.
Later, after an ambulance rushed Izabel Fox to a hospital, Jill Fox said she ran through the hospital hallways yelling, trying to find her daughter’s location.
“I finally got to her, and they just told me she was out for too long. Even if she did come out, she’d be brain dead. Then, I was in the room. She heard my voice and her heart started beating again, for like a second, and then they just declared her dead,” said Jill Fox, covering her face with her hands as she cried.
Toxicology testing showed Izabel Fox had died of acute fentanyl toxicity.
SHE DIDN’T KNOW HER BOYFRIEND’S NAME
Grand Rapids police questioned Paige Kirby at the scene, but she offered little help.
According to the police report, Kirby told GRPD she did not see Izabel Fox take any drugs.
In the same report, an investigator noted (Kirby) told him “she barely knew” one of the men she brought with her.
But another officer reported she repeatedly called the same man her “boyfriend.”
“When (the officer) asked (Kirby) who her boyfriend was, she was unable to state his name right away,” wrote an investigator in his report. “When (the officer) asked (Kirby) for her boyfriend’s number, she had to look in her contacts … then began to scroll through her phone as if she was looking for his number.”
Kirby also told investigators she did not know where she and Izabel Fox had dropped the men off before returning home, though she thought it was an apartment complex in Kentwood.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker ultimately charged Paige Kirby with lying to a police officer, a four-year felony, for purposely giving an investigator a bad phone number when questioned on scene that fatal night.
But Izabel Fox’s mom says that’s no justice.
She wants to know why Kirby failed to call 911 earlier or tell police what her daughter had ingested.
“There were many occasions where Paige could have saved her life. She knew Izzy took a pill. She drove around with her. She could have told cops on the scene that Izzy had taken a pill,” said Jill Fox.
Natalie VanDyke, Izabel Fox’s roommate, noted the overdose-reversal drug, Naloxone, could have saved Izabel Fox’s life.
Izabel Fox’s family also wants GRPD to identify and arrest the man who gave her the fentanyl, whether he did so accidentally or not.
Grand Rapids police told Target 8 the investigation is still on-going and additional charges are possible.
Jill Fox told News 8 that’s the first time she’s heard that GRPD is still investigating.
“They had been telling me there’s nothing more I can do,” said Fox. “No one, not a cop, detective, prosecutor, or anyone has ever even tried to take a statement or interview with me, and I was the person on scene that called 911. I feel GRPD has been cold and neglectful.”
Fox also questioned why police allowed Kirby to drive away from the scene given her driver’s license had been suspended.
Kirby left town after Izabel Fox’s death and Grand Rapids police had been unable to track her down.
‘SHE ADMITTED TO LYING’
Then, in March 2022, someone called GRPD to inform them Kirby wanted to take care of the arrest warrant and turn herself in.
However, she was once again undergoing in-patient rehab.
By September 2022, she had been released from rehab, picked up by police, returned to Kent County and booked in jail.
A Grand Rapids police detective went to the jail to interview Kirby.
“(Kirby) admitted to lying when she was originally questioned and said she was scared to tell the truth,” wrote the investigator in his report. “While inside (Izzy’s) apartment, (Kirby) said (Izzy) did three to four lines of powder cocaine. Following the cocaine use, (Izzy) purchased a Percocet pill (from one of the men).”
Kirby told police the man “had a bag which contained numerous pills of Percocet. (Izzy) ingested the pill she had bought (from the man).”
Paige Kirby is currently out on bond, after posting $400.
According to the online database maintained by Michigan State Police, Kirby’s criminal history includes misdemeanor convictions for use of marijuana, operating while impaired, and trespassing.
Target 8 contacted the public defender representing Kirby, and she declined comment due to the pending criminal case
If you have any information regarding the fatal overdose of Izabel Fox and the identity of the men involved, you’re asked to call Grand Rapids police detectives at 616.456.3380, or you can contact Silent Observer anonymously at 616.774.2345.
Target 8 will track any developments in the case.