The city Office of Chief Medical Examiner has ruled the cause of death for the three children who died on Coney Island to be homicides by drowning, officials said on Tuesday.
Police identified 30-year-old Erin Merdy as the mother who was found soaking wet and barefoot wandering the Coney Island boardwalk on early Monday morning. Her three children, who were found unresponsive at the water’s edge and later pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital, were identified as 7-year-old Zachary Merdy, 4-year-old Lilana Merdy, and 4-month-old Oliver Bondarev.
The search for the mother and kids started after a concerned family member called 911, expressing concern that Merdy may have harmed her children, according to reports. The three young kids were discovered along the shoreline in the vicinity of West 35th Street and the Boardwalk, roughly three blocks from Merdy’s apartment.
Merdy, who was hospitalized at NYU Langone Hospital Brooklyn, has yet to be charged as of Tuesday evening, officials said.
According to a New York Times report, the oldest child’s father, Derrick Merdy, said he had previously tried to obtain custody of his son, after being concerned about his living conditions. He told the Times he had tried getting help from authorities to no avail.
At a press conference on Monday, NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said a preliminary investigation showed there were no signs of previous abuse. A spokesperson for the Administration for Children's Services told Gothamist they were working with the NYPD to investigate.
“Our top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of all children in New York City. We are investigating this tragedy with the NYPD,” the spokesperson said. They were unable to confirm if the family had a history with ACS.
On Monday, the New York Daily News reported that the children’s grandmother, Jacquiline Scott, 56, was in shock at the news of her grandchildren’s deaths. She told the outlet that Merdy was a good mother who may be suffering from postpartum depression.
The Daily News also reported that Merdy called a cousin and admitted to drowning her children.
Gwynne Hogan contributed reporting.