Oakland deputy resigns after probe into deaths of mom, kids who froze to death

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

An Oakland County Sheriff's deputy has resigned following an investigation into the deaths of a Pontiac mother and her two sons who froze to death in a field this month.  

The deputy resigned Jan. 22, after the Sheriff’s Office completed its investigation, said Stephen Huber, a spokesman for the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The deputy came under review as authorities reviewed how Monica Cannady and two of her children froze to death in a field Jan. 15 after they were seen walking around improperly dressed for the cold. Cannady had been experiencing mental health issues and family members were trying to get her psychiatric care.

Her 10-year-old daughter survived and sought help with residents nearby the field on Branch where her family had gone.

Monica Cannady froze to death in a field in Pontiac along with her two young sons.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard had ordered a comprehensive review after initial reports that the Sheriff’s Office had received calls about a woman and her children.

“I wanted a deeper dive that would potentially find ways to prevent such a tragedy in the future,” Bouchard had said in a statement. “I ordered a complete review of all calls, radio traffic, a canvass of the neighborhood and any potential interactions with Monica Latrice Cannady and her children.”

Authorities said deputies first were notified that Cannady, 35, and her children, a daughter, 10; Kyle Milton, 9; and Malik Milton, 3, had stopped on Mill Street in downtown Pontiac around 1 p.m. Jan. 13 seeking help. Deputies immediately deployed a drone to search, officials said.

"The deputy asked if Cannady needed help and where she was traveling," the Sheriff's Office said. "Cannady responded that she was OK and did not need any help and quickly walked away from the deputy."

Five minutes later, a second deputy spotted her inside McLaren Oakland Hospital in downtown Pontiac, "questioned her in depth" about needing help, but Cannady said she was "fine" after a visit and awaiting a ride. The woman again refused assistance.

The deputy followed the family as they walked along Woodward, repeatedly trying to convince Cannady to go to the nearby Pontiac substation or get in the patrol car, according to the release. The deputy followed her to a nearby school and offered to take the family to the substation and provide the children coats, but Cannady declined the officers and walked away, authorities reported.

At about 4:30 p.m. Jan. 13, deputies met with Cannady’s aunt, "who sought advice on how to properly commit Cannady to a treatment facility to get the help her family said she needed," according to the release.

The Sheriff’s Office dispatch also was notified around 4:43 p.m. that a woman walking with several children not properly dressed had been spotted near Franklin and Rapid in Pontiac. A deputy responded for an area check "but did not completely search the area as he was expected to and did not find or make contact with the family," officials said Jan. 18.

"His performance is now under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit," officials said at the time.

At around 5:20 p.m. Friday, two deputies were ordered back to the area to search but failed to find them after nearly 20 minutes of a complete perimeter search. Three deputies were again sent to the area around 7:30 p.m. and searched until 8:06 p.m.

Around 3 p.m. Jan. 15, Cannady’s daughter knocked on the door of a home and told the residents that her family was dead in an adjacent field. Deputies and detectives responded to the 200 block of Branch and found them lying on the ground in a vacant field.