A 30-year-old Brooklyn woman was undergoing psychiatric evaluation late Monday after her three young children were found unconscious on a Coney Island beach and later pronounced dead, NYPD officials said.
Earlier Monday, cops had responded to the woman's Neptune Avenue address, a few blocks from the boardwalk, after a 911 call from family members fearing she would harm her children, according to NYPD officials.
Police said the woman, identified by a law enforcement source and a family member as Erin Merdy, had no criminal record or past allegations of child abuse.
The NYPD identified the children as Zachary Merdy, 7, Lilana Merdy, 4, and Oliver Bondarev, three months old.
The mother was initially brought to the 60th Precinct, but by later Monday morning, she had made no statements to police and had not been charged, said NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey during a news conference on the boardwalk.
Dine Stephen, an aunt of Merdy, said in a telephone interview late Monday afternoon that her niece had recently been having mental health issues — possibly linked to the birth of her youngest child — that she was addressing.
‘Hopefully, they will get her the help she needs and not treat her like a criminal,” said Stephen, who declined to identify the children.
A spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said autopsies on the children were planned for Tuesday.
The frantic series of events that preceded the discovery of the children began to unfold about 1:40 a.m. Monday after cops responded to the Neptune Avenue apartment unit and received no reply, Corey said.
“Inside the building they were met by an individual who identified himself as a father of one of the children, who expressed similar concerns and that he believed that the woman and the children were on the boardwalk here in Coney Island,” the chief said.
Following a search of the boardwalk, beach, Coney Island Hospital and the surrounding neighborhood, Corey said, officers found the mother alone at Brighton 6th Street and the Riegelmann Boardwalk. She was wet, Corey said, but it remained unclear if she'd been in the water or just out in the rain.
An additional intense search that included police aviation units discovered the children at 4:40 a.m. at the water’s edge, Corey said. Cops rushed the children to Coney Island Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.