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Coney Island mom faced eviction, financial and mental health strife before drowning deaths of her three young kids
The New York Daily News - 9/13/2022
The Brooklyn mom suspected of drowning her three small children at Coney Island Beach was months behind on her rent and facing eviction from their apartment, court documents show.
Erin Merdy, who was struggling with mental health issues according to her family, was served this past Jan. 12 with papers stating she was more than $5,000 behind in payments on the $1,531 monthly rent.
A police source told the Daily News Merdy, 30, called a cousin early Monday with word she had drowned the children before their bodies were discovered.
A football coach for her 7-year-old son, who was found dying on Coney Island Beach with his two younger siblings, said the boy had often arrived hungry for team practices before leaving the squad last year. The boy’s disinterested mom rarely attended games to watch her son play, and often left early when she did appear, said Coney Island Training Youth Program head coach Allen McFarland.
“Something that was noticeable was when we fed him the pasta it was always ‘Can I have some more, can I have another?’” McFarland recalled. “... We used to bring him over and feed him at practice.”
McFarland said he and other coaches would stop by the home of Zachary Merdy, 7, and walk the grade-schooler over to practice. Their attempts to bring him back for this year’s team failed, he added.
Zachary and his siblings, 3-month-old Oliver and 4-year-old Liliana, were found unresponsive on the beach near their apartment early Monday morning, with their mother spotted soaking wet and walking aimlessly in the sand nearby, barefoot and wearing a bathrobe, authorities said.
On Tuesday morning, a police officer was posted at the door to the apartment where the mom lived alone with her three children. Family members said the mother was struggling with mental health issues prior to the discovery of her kids.
The mother’s sister called cops at 1:40 a.m. Monday to report her fears that Merdy had harmed the kids, with police arriving to find Merdy’s apartment door unlocked and nobody inside. About 90 minutes later, police received a 911 call directing them to neighboring Brighton Beach and found an intoxicated Merdy with other family members, according to sources.
Authorities located the three children, who were all pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital later that morning.
The father of one of the lost kids was inside the apartment building where the family lived when police arrived and he too expressed fears about the fate of the children before the bodies were eventually discovered.
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