By KAREN MATTHEWS and JOSEPH B. FREDERICK Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Three children were found dead on the beach near Brooklyn’s famed Coney Island boardwalk early Monday and police believe they may have been drowned by their mother.
The bodies of the children, identified by police as Zachary Merdy, 7; Lilana Merdy, 4, and 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev, were found after a nearly three-hour search that began at 1:40 a.m. when a relative called police, worried the woman intended to harm her children.
The mother, identified by family members as 30-year-old Erin Merdy, was found 90 minutes later, barefoot and soaking wet, 2 miles (3 kilometers) down the boardwalk from the section of Coney Island where she lived.
Detectives were trying to question Merdy at the local police precinct house.
“So far, she’s not said anything,” said New York Police Department Chief of Department Kenneth Corey.
The search for the children intensified after the mother was found alone. Police sent in a helicopter and marine units. The children were found at the water’s edge shortly after 4:30 a.m. on a quiet section of beach about 13 blocks from the stadium where the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team plays.
Efforts to revive the children at a nearby hospital failed, Corey said.
Merdy’s mother, Jacqueline Scott, 56, told the Daily News that her daughter was a loving mother but had been having a rough time recently.
“She might have been going through postpartum depression,” Scott told the newspaper. “She was a good mother.”
Scott said she tried to talk to her daughter Sunday.
“I reached out to her yesterday and she said she was doing laundry and I said I wanted to speak to the kids,” Scott said. “I tried to call her twice on the phone after that and there was no answer.”
The children’s bodies were found three blocks from Merdy’s apartment building, where police had first gone when the search began. Corey said officers had canvassed the beach and the boardwalk, searched neighborhood streets and checked the local hospital in the hunt for the children before the mother was found on the boardwalk.
As they continued to search the area, police found a shoe in the water and bagged it as evidence.
A security supervisor for Merdy’s building said the family had moved in less than a year ago. Corey said the mother had not been reported to authorities previously for abusing or neglecting her children.
A decision hadn’t been made about what criminal charges Merdy might face.
Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.