Mother of three children who drowned in Brooklyn arrested, charged

Sep 14, 2022, 3:07 PM
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Police work along a stretch of beach at Coney Island which is no...
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Police work along a stretch of beach at Coney Island which is now a crime scene after a mother is suspected of drowning her children in the ocean on September 12, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Three children were found unconscious on the beach near the Coney Island boardwalk early Monday morning. Detectives were trying to question the mother at the local police precinct house after she was picked up two miles down the boardwalk. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The 30-year-old mother of three children found unresponsive on the Coney Island shoreline in Brooklyn has been arrested and charged in their deaths, a law enforcement official told CNN Thursday.

Erin Merdy has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of depraved indifference to human life, and three counts of murder with the victims under 11 years old, the official said.

The children died by drowning early Monday and their deaths are considered homicides, the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said.

Relatives called police after Merdy allegedly told them “the babies are gone” and “the kids are gone.” When questioned by detectives, Merdy told them she had been “dreaming of walking the kids in the water,” according to the law enforcement official.

Merdy was processed Wednesday and remains in a hospital for further psychological evaluation, the official said.

All three children were pronounced dead at a hospital after first responders conducted life-saving measures, including CPR, Chief of Department Kenneth Corey told reporters Monday.

Their mother was questioned by police and then hospitalized after they found her Monday morning in Brighton Beach, adjacent to Coney Island, a law enforcement official said.

Officers searched beaches, streets and local hospital

The children were discovered after police got a 911 call at 1:40 a.m. Monday from someone who was concerned a “family member may have harmed her three small children,” Corey said. The caller asked police to check on the woman’s Coney Island apartment.

At the apartment a man who identified himself 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 at a boardwalk on Coney Island.

Officers canvassed beaches, streets, and a local hospital. Then another 911 call came in directing officers to a specific location — Brighton 6th Street and Riegelmann Boardwalk in nearby Brighton Beach. The caller reported a woman who was despondent, according to a police spokesperson.

Police found the woman and other family members with her. The children were not there.

The search continued via ground, air, and harbor units. Around 4:42 a.m., officers found the children unconscious on the shoreline at 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 a half-mile south of her apartment.

She was “soaking wet” when investigators made contact with her, said Corey, who noted it was not clear whether she’d been in the rain or in the water off the coast.

Football coach remembers ‘quiet, expressive boy’

The 7-year-old boy was a kind, generous person with a special humility about him, his father told CNN on Tuesday.

“Anybody who met my son they would know that he is special,” the father, Derrick Merdy, said.

He loved the video game character Sonic the Hedgehog. “I think I spent so much money buying him every last one of them,” Merdy said.

The boy “had a humility about him that I can’t even imitate, and I’m going to try my best to live like he did because he was so kind and generous,” the father said.

“He was going to be great.”

Allen McFarland, a youth football coach and New York City Department of Education employee, 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,” said McFarland, recalling that the boy joined his team two years ago and wore number 15.

The coach had to break the news to the team on Monday and was met with tears from the kids, who were heartbroken.

McFarland said the boy’s mother pulled him out of football in March.

“You could see that there was a lot going on,” the coach said of the mother.

“She would say, ‘No, I know he likes it and we’re going to try to come back, but the schedule has just been busy,'” McFarland said. “It seemed like she was juggling a lot.”

A person who used to work at a shelter for domestic violence survivors said the two older children were “sweet.”

The 4-year-old girl liked to play with dolls, the former shelter worker told CNN. The boy was 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 well-behaved and quiet. Beautiful souls. Mom was mostly quiet,” the former shelter employee said.

The person, who didn’t want to be identified publicly, said the mother did not associate with other residents but would occasionally participate in activities with the children.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Associated Press

CDC drops traveler health notices for individual countries

The CDC is doing away with notices about the COVID-19 risk of visiting specific countries.
1 day ago
WILMINGTON, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: Former President Donald Trump arrives at a Save America Rally at the...
Associated Press

Trump files $475 million defamation lawsuit against CNN

Former President Donald Trump has gone to court against CNN, a familiar target when he was president.
1 day ago
Search crews in Florida....
Mike Anderson

Rescue teams continue to find residents effected by Hurricane Ian

Search teams are helping oversee FEMA's efforts to search for those survivors, which is no easy task.
1 day ago
FILE photo...
REBECCA BOONE Associated Press

Idaho ordered to pay $2.5M to transgender inmate for legal fees

A federal judge has ordered Idaho and its prison medical care provider to pay more than $2.5 million in legal fees to a transgender inmate who sued after she was denied gender confirmation surgery.
1 day ago
surveillance image of possible shooter...
Associated Press

Killings of 5 men in California are related, police say

Rewards totaling $85,000 have been offered for information leading to an arrest in five fatal shootings since July in Stockton, California, that investigators believe are related.
1 day ago
OREM, UT - FEBRUARY 21: A bump stock is installed on an AK-47 at Good Guys Gun and Range on Februar...
Associated Press

Supreme Court rejects bump stock ban cases, one from Utahn

The Supreme Court says it won't take up two cases that involved challenges to a ban enacted during the Trump administration on bump stocks. Those are the gun attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Mother of three children who drowned in Brooklyn arrested, charged