PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says a mother and two of her children died of hypothermia in a Pontiac field near the Lakeside Housing Project. Their bodies were found Sunday afternoon.
According to the sheriff’s office, the 35-year-old mother was having a mental health crisis and reportedly believed someone was trying to kill her and that “everyone was in on it.”
Family was reportedly trying to get her help, but she refused and fled with the children.
The victims have been identified as Monica Latrice Cannady, 35, Kyle Milton, 9, and Malik Milton, 3.
“This is a horrific tragedy that could be prevented by a society wide-community approach to mental health challenges,” Bouchard said Monday during a news conference. “We all have to communicate more, support each other more and ensure that people don’t fall through the cracks.”
Officials say the mother took her three children to the field and told them to go to sleep. Authorities say temperatures were "well below freezing."
Officials say a 10-year-old girl survived the night and went to a nearby home for help, telling them that her family had passed away in a field. She later told investigators her mother told the kids to run if they saw police and they weren't to be trusted.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said deputies later found the woman and her two sons dead. They were found around 3 p.m. Sunday near Branch Street and Gillespie Avenue. Their deaths were rule accidental, the sheriff's office said.
The 10-year-old is currently at the hospital in stable condition. She will be placed with a family member after she is released.
Sheriff Bouchard advocated for more support for mental health resources in the community.
“Mental health is one of the largest challenges of this time,” Bouchard said. “Even when I had to cut my budget by a significant amount last year, I made it a priority of having mental health services in my budget. The state and federal government needs to provide us with funding that allow us to perform more mental health services in partnership with the mental health community, including having more mental health practitioners on our team that can be part of a holistic response to mental health calls.”
If you need help, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. You can also reach out to the Common Ground Resource and Crisis Center: https://commongroundhelps.org/.