Mother, 2 sons found dead in overgrown field in Pontiac; 10-year-old girl hospitalized with hypothermia
PONTIAC, Mich. (FOX 2) - A mother and her two sons died over the weekend after taking refuge in an overgrown field in Pontiac.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard identified the victims as 35-year-old Monica Cannady, 9-year-old Kyle Milton, and 3-year-old Malik Milton. They were found Sunday in the 200 block of Branch near the former Lakeside housing projects. An autopsy showed that they died from hypothermia.
Bouchard said a 10-year-old girl named Lilly survived. Authorities learned about the deaths when the girl knocked on a door and said her family was dead in a field. She is hospitalized with hypothermia.
"This tragedy was based in a mental health crisis," Bouchard said.
If you are in need of mental health help in Oakland County, you can contact Common Ground 24/7. The Oakland Community Health Network also provides resources. Contact the Crisis Line at 844-446-4225.
Bouchard noted that Cannady had an apartment but was suffering a mental health crisis that led her to seek shelter outside. According to the sheriff, Cannady thought people were out to get her, including the police. Family members said she started acting differently about three weeks ago, so they tried to help, but Cannady fled with the children.
On Saturday, Cannady and the children were knocking on doors in the area, and she was telling people that they were hungry. However, she wouldn't accept money and eventually wandered to the area where the bodies were found.
Bouchard said the sheriff's office had gotten calls in recent days about a woman and children who were underdressed, but deputies couldn't find them. Authorities didn't know that the family had been on the streets for days and were not aware that the mother was having a mental health crisis.
Family members later told authorities that Cannady told the children to hide if people approached them. It had appeared that the family was sleeping in an abandoned vehicle, but Bouchard said Cannady told the children to lie on the ground.
"They was amazing, so smart, and it's just so sad that they were so young, didn't even get to experience life yet," said Cannady's brother, Andre Harsten, who had been searching for her all weekend. "And I wouldn't blame her. I just want to know what happened. What was in her system? I need answers to that, so I can know what type of state of mind she was in. This never, ever has been her."
Bouchard is using the tragedy to reiterate the importance of funding mental health resources and working together as a community to provide support to those in need.
"We’re responding daily to suicides and overdoses," Bouchard said, noting that often overdoses are because a person is self-medicating.
A GoFundMe has been established for the young girl that survived. To learn more, go to the link HERE.
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741
CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.