A picture of a crime scene tape stretched across a section of Coney Island Beach.

NEWS: Mom suspected of drowning kids may have had postpartum depression

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The Brooklyn mom suspected of drowning her three young children may have been suffering from postpartum depression, law-enforcement sources said Tuesday. 

Erin Merdy, who confessed to relatives she drowned her three kids – Zachary Merdy, 7, Lillyana Stephen, 4, and 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev – also suffered from bipolar schizophrenia, her boyfriend told police, according to sources. 

Cops are seeking to determine if her mental issues, especially postpartum psychosis, brought on by postpartum depression, were a factor in the kids’ tragic deaths early Monday morning on Coney Island beach, the sources said. 

Just after midnight on Monday, Merdy was captured on surveillance footage walking near her Neptune Avenue apartment with her three children in tow and then entering the boardwalk area of the beach around 12:50 a.m., sources said. 

About 45 minutes later, she’s caught on surveillance footage again near West 8th Street and Riegalman Boardwalk West but this time, she was captured without her kids, the sources said. 

Three young children, including an infant, died after being found unconscious on Coney Island Beach.

A picture of police officers carrying one of the missing children from the water.
Police found the bodies of the three children in the sand on the shoreline near West 35th Street around 4:40 a.m.

A picture of Erin Merdy surrounded by police.
A source said Brooklyn mother, Erin Merdy, was captured on surveillance entering the boardwalk area of the beach with her children just after midnight on Sept. 12. About 45 minutes later, Nerdy is caught walking again near West 8th Street without her children.

Around this time, Merdy’s sister called 911 and said she’d received texts and a phone call from the mom that left her concerned for her niece and nephews’ safety. 

Cops headed over to her apartment to conduct a wellness check but the apartment door was unlocked and no one was home, police said. 

Just after 3 a.m., Merdy’s boyfriend and the father of baby Oliver called 911 and told police he was concerned about how she acted earlier at his apartment and said she appeared dazed and delirious. He too said he was concerned that Merdy had harmed the kids and said he believed they were on Coney Island beach. 

Soon after, cops located Merdy, her boyfriend, and her sister near Brighton 6th Street and found the mom barefoot, soaking wet and in a bathrobe, appearing disoriented and unable to answer questions. 

A picture of Erin Merdy being transported to NYU Langone hospital.
Erin Merdy’s boyfriend said Merdy had suffered from bipolar schizophrenia in the past.
Paul Martinka

Her children were nowhere to be found, leading the NYPD’s harbor and aviation units to conduct a frantic search for the missing kids across the beach. 

Around 4:40 a.m., cops made the heartbreaking discovery of their bodies in the sand on the shoreline near West 35th Street, about two miles from where the mom was found and just three blocks from their home on Neptune Avenue. 

They were transported to Coney Island Hospital but could not be saved. 

The kids appeared to have drowned when cops found them but their exact cause and manner of death are yet to be determined. 

Merdy was transported to NYU Langone hospital in Brooklyn for a psychiatric evaluation late Monday morning where she remained Tuesday. She is yet to be charged in connection with the horror but if she is, she could face a bedside arraignment. 



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