The 30-year-old mother of three, who was found unresponsive on the Coney Island shoreline in Brooklyn, has been arrested and charged in her death, a police official told CNN on Thursday.
Erin Merdy was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of indifference to human life and three counts of murder of victims under the age of 11, the official said.
The children died by drowning early Monday and their deaths are ruled homicides, the New York office of the chief medical examiner said.
Relatives called the police after Merdy allegedly told them “the babies are gone” and “the kids are gone”. When questioned by detectives, Merdy told them she “had dreams of taking the kids for a walk in the water,” according to the police officer.
Merdy was treated on Wednesday and remains at a hospital for further psychological evaluation, the official said.
All three children were pronounced dead at a hospital after first responders administered life-saving measures including CPR, department head Kenneth Corey told reporters on Monday.
Her mother was questioned by police and then taken to hospital after they found her in Brighton Beach next to Coney Island on Monday morning, a police officer said.
The children were discovered after police received an 911 call at 1:40 a.m. Monday from someone concerned that “a family member may have harmed their three young children,” Corey said. The caller asked police to check the woman’s Coney Island home.
At the apartment, a man posing as the father of one of the children said he was also concerned, Corey added. The man told police he believed the woman and three children were on a Coney Island boardwalk.
Officers searched beaches, streets and a local hospital. Another 911 call then came in, directing officers to a specific location – Brighton 6th Street and Riegelmann Boardwalk in nearby Brighton Beach. According to the police spokesman, the caller reported a depressed woman.
Police found the woman and other family members with her. The children weren’t there.
The search continued over ground, air and port units. Around 4:42 a.m., officers found the children unconscious on the shore on West 35th Street in Coney Island, Corey said.
The location where the children were found is about 2 miles from where the woman was spotted – and just half a mile south of her home.
She was “soaking wet” when investigators contacted her, said Corey, who noted that it was not clear if she had been in the rain or in the water offshore.
The 7-year-old boy is a kind, generous person with a special humility, his father told CNN on Tuesday.
“Anyone who has met my son knows he is special,” said the father, Derrick Merdy.
He loved the video game character Sonic the Hedgehog. “I think I spent so much money buying him every single one of them,” Merdy said.
The boy “had a humility about him that I can’t even emulate and I will do my best to live like him because he was so kind and generous,” the father said.
“He would be great.”
Allen McFarland, a youth football coach and New York City Department of Education staffer, remembered the 7-year-old as a quiet, expressive boy who was always excited to play football.
“He was excited to tackle, to be tackled, excited to run the ball, excited to hit the person with the ball, he was just excited,” McFarland said, recalling the kid joining his team two years ago and wore the number 15.
The coach had to break the news to the squad on Monday and was filled with tears by the heartbroken children.
McFarland said the boy’s mother pulled him out of football in March.
“You could see that there was a lot going on,” said the coach about the mother.
“She would say, ‘No, I know he likes it and we’re going to try to come back, but the schedule was just packed,'” McFarland said. “It seemed like she juggled a lot.”
A person who used to work at a home for domestic violence survivors said the two older children were “cute”.
The 4-year-old girl enjoyed playing with dolls, the former shelter worker told CNN. The boy is a superhero fan, said the person who worked with those two children for six months in 2020 and 2021 – before the birth of the third child.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see. The children were always good and quiet. beautiful souls Mom was mostly quiet,” said the former shelter worker.
The person, who asked not to be named publicly, said the mother doesn’t socialize with other residents but occasionally participates in activities with the children.