A sheriff’s deputy sent to search for a Detroit-area mother and her two young sons whose bodies later were found frozen in a field has resigned.
The Oakland County sheriff’s office said the deputy stepped down Jan. 22, The Detroit News reported Monday. The deputy’s name was not released.
The bodies of Monica Cannady, 35, Kyle Milton, 9, and Malik Milton, 3, were found Jan. 15 in Pontiac after Cannady’s 10-year-old daughter went to a home near the field and told someone that her “family was dead in a field,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said earlier this month.
They were not dressed properly for the cold weather. An autopsy report listed hypothermia as the cause of their deaths.
Cannady had been experiencing mental health issues and family members were trying to get her psychiatric care.
She “believed someone was trying to kill her and that everybody was in on it” before she and her children died, Sheriff Michael Bouchard told reporters Jan. 16.
Authorities first were notified about the family on Jan. 13. At the time, Cannady refused help. The family was spotted again later that afternoon and a deputy was sent to check an area about 20 miles northwest of Detroit, for the family.
Investigators said the family could have been outside in the cold for at least three days, despite having a home about a mile from where they were found, CBS Detroit reported.
The area was not completely searched and the deputy also did not find or make contact with them, the sheriff’s office said.
Other deputies later searched that day, but also failed to find the family.
“Over the course of a couple of days, we actually had been getting calls about a woman and kids not dressed appropriately for the conditions,” said Sheriff Bouchard. “Deputies would go there, look all through the area and couldn’t find anybody.”
Bouchard advocated for better mental health support at the press conference earlier this month, saying there is “so much more” to be done regarding crisis response and long-term solutions.
“It takes strength to ask for help. It’s not weakness,” he said. “It’s encouraged.”
Charles Witherspoon told CBS Detroit he lives in the area and said neighbors saw the family. Witherspoon said Cannady asked a neighbor for food because she was hungry but he said he had no idea they were sleeping near his home.
“It’s terrible,” he said. “It’s terrible.”