More Clues Emerge in Deaths of 3 Kids on Coney Island

Mother of children found on beach Monday is hospitalized, hasn't been charged
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2022 7:50 AM CDT
NYC Medical Examiner Rules Deaths of 3 Kids Homicides
NYPD investigators examine a stretch of beach along Coney Island, where three children were found in the surf on Monday in New York. Authorities have confirmed that the children died by drowning.   (AP Photo/Joseph Frederick, File)

Three young kids who were found early Monday along the shoreline of Brooklyn's Coney Island all died drowning deaths, and they've been ruled homicides, a spokesperson from New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner said on Tuesday. Police say no one has yet been arrested or charged in the deaths of 7-year-old Zachary Merdy, 4-year-old Liliana Merdy, and Oliver Bodnarev, just 3 months old. Cops say their mother, identified by the kids' father as Erin Merdy, 30, was found wandering barefoot and wet along a boardwalk in nearby Brighton Beach, reports the New York Times. Merdy, who relatives say may have been the one to hurt the children, has been questioned and is currently hospitalized, per NBC New York.

That outlet says the trouble began early Monday, at around 1:40am, when police responded to a 911 call from a Neptune Avenue residence, where a relative had expressed concern about the children. When police entered the home, they encountered a man who said he was the kids' dad, and who reiterated the 911 caller's fears that the children were in trouble. He also said he thought the kids might have been brought by their mother down by the Coney Island boardwalk. Authorities say they found Merdy about an hour and a half after responding to the 911 call. One police source describes Merdy as "nearly catatonic" when she was found, adding that cops are examining whether postpartum depression may have played a role in the killings, per ABC News.

Her children were found about 2 miles away at around 4:45am. Although Merdy had been reported previously for domestic incidents involving harassment and aggravated harassment, no charges resulted from those incidents, and she has no other past arrests, according to NYPD records. A security supervisor at the home where the family lived says they'd moved there less than a year ago, per NBC. Court documents show that Merdy faced possible eviction and had at one point last year had owed upward of $5,300 in back rent, reports the Times. The children's father, meanwhile, tells cops that his ex-wife kept moving, including into shelters, and that he'd been trying to get custody of the older child for years. Police are asking anyone with any information on this case, which remains under investigation, to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. (More Coney Island stories.)

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