Oakland County deputy being investigated after incomplete search for mom, 2 sons who froze to death

Sheriff says deputy did not completely search area for Monica Cannady, children

The field where a mother and her two sons froze to death on Jan. 15, 2023, in Pontiac. (WDIV)

PONTIAC, Mich. – An Oakland County deputy is under investigation after the sheriff questioned how thoroughly he searched for a mother and two boys who were found frozen to death two days later in a Pontiac field.

Monica Cannady, 35, of Pontiac, and her two sons, 9-year-old Kyle Milton and 3-year-old Malik Milton, were found dead around 3:10 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 15) in a vacant field off of Branch Street. Her 10-year-old daughter survived and was taken to the hospital with hypothermia-like symptoms.

On Wednesday evening, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard released a detailed timeline of Cannady’s activity during the weekend leading up to her death. That timeline included multiple interactions with deputies (read the details of the timeline by clicking the link below).

TIMELINE: Breakdown of Pontiac woman’s activity, contact with deputies before she, 2 sons froze to death

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

Bouchard said a deputy first offered help to the family around 1:10 p.m. Friday in the area of Water and Mill streets, but Cannady refused. Five minutes later, a second deputy encountered Cannady at McLaren Oakland Hospital and spent about 20 minutes trying to convince her to accept his assistance, according to authorities.

Cannady’s aunt called deputies around 4:30 p.m. Friday to talk about the steps she would need to take to properly commit Cannady to a mental health treatment facility. Around that same time, police received a call about a woman and several children walking in the area of Franklin Road and Rapid Street in Pontiac without proper clothes for the cold conditions.

Bouchard said a deputy was sent to the area of Franklin Road and Rapid Street to locate the family, but the quality of his search is now in question.

“A deputy responded to the call 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,” a release says. “His performance is now under investigation by the sheriff’s office Special Investigations Unit.”

MORE: Everything we know after mother, 2 young sons freeze to death in Pontiac woods

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office sent two deputies back to the area of Franklin Road and Rapid Street to search for the family at 5:20 p.m. That search lasted 20 minutes, and the family was not found.

Three deputies were sent to the same area round 7:33 p.m. and searched for the family until 8:06 p.m., according to the release. Again, the search came up empty.

Police didn’t have any further contact with Cannady or her children until Sunday afternoon, when they found Cannady and her sons dead in a vacant field that had once been the location of the Lakeside Housing Project.

Investigators concluded the family had spent the night in the field while temperatures were well below freezing. Their deaths were ruled accidental, and the cause of death for all three was determined to be hypothermia.

The 10-year-old girl, Lillie, is stable and improving, police said. She will be discharged to family members when she is allowed to leave the hospital.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.