NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City mom accused of drowning her three children in the Atlantic Ocean was charged with murder Wednesday.
Authorities announced the charges two days after Erin Merdy, 30, was found wandering barefoot and soaking wet, about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from where children were discovered at the water’s edge off of Brooklyn’s Coney Island boardwalk.
The city medical examiner determined Tuesday that 7-year-old Zachary Merdy, 4-year-old Liliana Merdy and 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev died by drowning.
Merdy has undergone a psychiatric evaluation and remained in the hospital Wednesday, according to police. It wasn’t clear when she might be arraigned in court.
Relatives have said in media interviews that Merdy appeared to have been struggling with the children.
Her estranged ex-husband, Derrick Merdy, told The New York Times his son, Zachary, would arrive for visits dirty and complaining that he wasn’t getting enough to eat. Court records indicated that Merdy had been threatened with eviction for being thousands of dollars behind on her rent.
Acquaintances and relatives, though, also said she loved the children.
“She did a little crazy stuff, but nothing that would lead to harming her children or herself,” an uncle, Eddy Stephen, told The New York Post.
“She loved her children to no end,” her aunt, Dine Stephen, told the Daily News.
It was unclear when a lawyer would be appointed to represent Merdy. A defense lawyer could potentially ask a judge for a psychological investigation to see if Merdy is mentally fit to stand trial.
The children’s bodies were found after a search that began when a relative dialed 911 at around 1 a.m. Monday and expressed concern that Merdy had harmed her children. Officers searched the beach and the boardwalk in the dark, intensifying the hunt when Merdy was discovered alone on the boardwalk.