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How is It Possible? Mother Charged With Murdering 3 Children Who Drowned in Coney Island
Following a statement released by the New York Police Department, Erin Merdy, who is 30 years old, has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of depraved indifference to human life, and three counts of the murder of victims younger than 11 years old. All of these charges stem from the same incident.
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Before the murders on Monday, Erin Merdy had been embroiled in a protracted custody battle and was on the verge of being evicted.
In one of the city’s most heinous crimes against children in recent memory, the mother of three children who drowned this week in Brooklyn was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in their deaths.
Zachary Merry, 7, Liliana Merdy, 4, and Oliver Bondarev, three months, were found dead on Monday. Their mother, Erin Merdy, 30, of Brooklyn, was arrested days later, according to the New York City Police Department.
The deaths were deemed murders by drowning on Tuesday by the New York City medical examiner’s office. There is currently no scheduled arraignment hearing for Ms. Merdy.
The early morning tragedy, which unfolded on the promenade and beach, brought to mind the stories of Susan Smith, who in 1994 drove her car into a South Carolina lake with her two kids still inside, and Andrea Yates, who in 2001 drowned her five children in a Houston suburb bathroom.
About a dozen children are killed in “domestic” incidents in New York City each year. Unfortunately, in some of these instances, crucial warning signals and opportunities for intervention were overlooked.
Shortly before 2 o’clock, the police received a call on Monday morning asking them to check on Ms. Merdy. According to officials, a relative reported that her children were in danger.
Around 90 minutes later on Monday, without her children, police spotted Ms. Merdy barefoot and drenched on the boardwalk at Brighton Beach, as chief of department Kenneth Corey reported at a morning press conference.
Two miles away, near West 35th Street in Coney Island, the cops found the kids passed out on the beach at around 4:30 a.m. Chief Corey stated that the youngsters were transferred to Coney Island Hospital, where they were later confirmed dead.
Responding officers from the 60th Precinct tweeted their gratitude to Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell on Wednesday for his leadership in the days following the tragedy.
In 2020, the city’s Administration for Children’s Services reportedly uncovered evidence to substantiate a charge of neglect or abuse against Ms. Merdy, according to a law enforcement officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The agency has stated that it cannot comment on Ms. Merdy until its investigation into the fatalities is complete.
On Tuesday, an agency worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case said that the agency did not file a petition in family court against Ms. Merdy as would have been necessary to seek court-ordered supervision of the family or removal of children from her custody.
This past year, the city reworked its system for keeping tabs on families, including making more unannounced visits and beefing up investigations, in response to a series of child abuse deaths where it appeared that police or Administration for Children’s Services investigators had skipped steps or closed a case too soon.
On Wednesday, Ms. Merdy’s neighbors paid a little tribute to the kids in the building lobby. In honor of Zachary, who played wide receiver, linebacker, and offensive line for a young team named the Silverbacks, a cardboard box was decorated with balloons portraying cartoon characters like Minnie Mouse and packed with plush toys and a tiny football.
One of the notes left at the memorial said, “R.I.P. Zachary Liliana Oliver.” The thought of you will live on in our hearts forever.
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Jacqueline Scott, Ms. Merdy’s mother, has asked to be left alone on Wednesday. She declined to comment on the allegations, citing her family’s grieving.
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