Deaths of 3 children drowned on Coney Island beach ruled HOMICIDES as cops believe mom Erin Merdy battled depression

The children were found unresponsive three blocks from their home on Neptune Avenue, along the the shoreline, and were later pronounced dead

Deaths of 3 children drowned on Coney Island beach ruled HOMICIDES as cops believe mom Erin Merdy battled depression
As per the police, Erin Merdy was allegedly facing a custody battle with her son Zachary’s (L) father (city-silverbacks/Instagram and CBS New York screenshot/YouTube)
ADVERTISEMENT

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY: The deaths of three children who were found drowned on a Coney Island beach on Monday, September 12, have been ruled homicides, the city Medical Examiner confirmed. Their mother, Erin Merdy, confessed to the crimes. The children were found unresponsive three blocks from their home on Neptune Avenue, along the shoreline. They were pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital.

ADVERTISEMENT

Merdy, 30, allegedly told relatives that she drowned her children -- 7-year-old Zachary Merdy, 4-year-old Liliana Stephen and 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev. Surveillance video showed her walking from her apartment with her children after midnight. She held Oliver, and Zachary and Liliana walked beside her. The four were seen entering the boardwalk area of the beach around 12:50 am on Monday. Sources said that just 45 minutes later, Merdy was seen on surveillance footage again near West 8th Street and Riegalman Boardwalk West, but this time without her children, according to New York Post.

ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE

'Tired and lonely' single mom kills children, 3 and 9, and lives with their bodies for 14 days

'I don't want them anymore': Florida mom kills children, aged 3 and 5, by strangling them with ribbo

ADVERTISEMENT

Merdy is said to have been battling mental health issues at the time of the incident. She was suffering from bipolar schizophrenia, relatives and police sources told the publication. She may also have been suffering from postpartum depression, law enforcement sources claimed. Cops are now trying to determine if her mental issues, especially postpartum psychosis, brought on by postpartum depression, were a factor in the children's murders.

ADVERTISEMENT

Eviction issues and custody battle

Merdy was reportedly facing eviction from her apartment and a custody battle at the time of the incident. Merdy owed more than $10,000 in back rent for her apartment. As she was unable to pay, she had been threatened with getting kicked out since January after the state’s Covid-19 eviction moratorium expired, according to court records, New York Post reported. The mom was served with an eviction notice after she stopped paying her $1,531-a-month rent for her Neptune Avenue apartment in July 2021.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to Merdy's uncle Levy Stephen, she was facing a custody battle with her son Zachary’s father. “He had issues with the way she was raising the child, from what I understand,” Levy said. “She kind of went off the grid after that, changed her numbers. She wasn’t on social media — at least not to the point that I could find her.” According to law enforcement sources, she had failed to bring her son to a custody exchange in July. This was just ahead of a six-week visit planned with Zachary’s dad.

ADVERTISEMENT

History of mental illness

According to Merdy's relatives, she appeared unstable in recent years and found it hard to maintain consistent relationships. “There was a time when Erin and I were in contact all the time, but in 2015, 2016, she disappeared off the Earth. I didn’t know how to get in touch with her,” Levy said. “Now I’m faulting myself for that. She obviously needed help, and you can’t help but think, ‘Maybe I could have…’" “I’m at a loss for words. It’s not every day you lose three family members in one day,” he added. “Nobody wants to go to the funeral and see those three bodies.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Jean Stephen, 64, another uncle, said he believed Merdy didn't “have her life together". “I don’t think she could handle a relationship or anything like that. She didn’t seem like she was that kind of person. She didn’t seem like she was stable,” the relative said. “Anybody can go out and just fool around, but a person that’s stable can settle down with one person. She didn’t have her life together enough to do that.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Merdy's mother has claimed that the daughter may have suffered from post-partum depression. Jacqueline Scott, told the New York Daily News, "I reached out to her yesterday and she said she was doing laundry and I said I wanted to speak to the kids. I tried to call her twice on the phone and there was no answer."

ADVERTISEMENT

Merdy’s aunt Dine Stephen said although she knew her niece was struggling, she did not know how severe her condition was. “I knew she was struggling in the sense she was trying to find her way through life. In this family we do have a history of mental illness to varying degrees. A few of us have battled with bipolar disorder, but I didn’t know her mental struggles,” the aunt said, according to New York Post. “I just knew she was trying to find a way for her children, a way to get on her feet. … It was the mental issues that took over.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Another uncle, Eddy Stephen, said, "She did a little crazy stuff, but nothing that would lead to harming her children or herself. She used to like to party here and there, do a little drinking, but I didn’t see any drug abuse or see that she was really irresponsible. It’s just tragic. I don’t know. She never gave us the sign that she would hurt her children. She loved her children.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Relatives called police around 1 am on Monday to report Merdy, who was allegedly drunk, may harm her children. Police found her hours later, looking dazed as she walked barefoot through the sand on the Coney Island beach in a bathrobe. According to law enforcement sources, she told relatives before being found by cops by police that she “drowned all three kids.” The children were subsequently found dead. Merdy was sent to NYU Langone Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after the incident.

ADVERTISEMENT

Share this article: Deaths of 3 children drowned on Coney Island beach ruled HOMICIDES as cops believe mom Erin Merdy battled depression