A brooklyn The mother accused of drowning her three children was dealing with an eviction, a custody battle and mental health issues that led to her tragic death on Monday.
Erin Merdy, 30, of Coney Island reportedly owed more than $10,000 in back rent for her Neptune Avenue apartment where she lived with her children: 3-month-old Oliver, 4-year-old Liliana and 7-year-old Zachary. he was being threatened with eviction since January after the COVID-19 eviction moratorium was lifted, according to the New York Post.
Merdy had stopped paying her $1,531-a-month rent in July of last year and received an eviction notice before the moratorium expired, the Post reports, citing court records.
Custody battle, eviction loomed over distraught mother ahead of Monday tragedy, family says
Merdy’s uncle, Levy Stephen, also revealed that his niece was in the middle of a custody dispute with Zachary’s father before Monday’s tragedy. Stephen said the boy’s father “had problems with the way she was raising him” after “going off the grid”.
Erin Merdy drowned her 3 little children –
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“He had issues with the way she was raising the girl, from what I understand,” Levy said. “She went off the grid after that, she changed her numbers. She wasn’t on social media, at least not to the point of being able to find her.”
Authorities say that around 1 a.m. Monday, concerned family members called police to report that Merdy may be drunk and may have done something to harm her children. Several hours later, police found her in a daze walking barefoot on the Coney Island beach in a bathrobe.
Law enforcement sources told the Post that she had told relatives that she “drowned all three children” before police arrived.
Their children’s bodies were pulled from the water on the shoreline just three blocks from their home and were ultimately pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital.
Warning, graphic content below:
Shit… This is heartbreaking. A mother with a history of mental health problems is suspected of drowning her three young children on a Coney Island beach early Monday after confessing to her relatives that she murdered them. Erin Merdy’s children were found unconscious around… pic.twitter.com/IB7NzRZ99A
— That guy Shane (@ProfanityNewz) September 13, 2022
Mom’s Family Opens Up About Her Mental Illness, Saying They ‘Knew She Was Struggling’
Now her family is speaking out about the mental health issues that have come up alongside those other issues, with an aunt, Dine Stephen, saying she “knew she was struggling” and that the family “has a history of mental illness.”
“I knew that he was struggling in the sense that he was trying to find his way in life. In this family we have a history of mental illness to varying degrees. Some of us have struggled with bipolar disorder, but I didn’t know about their mental struggles,” the aunt said.
The aunt added that while she was “trying to find a way for her children…it was mental issues that took over.”
“I just knew that he was trying to find a way for his children, a way to stand up. … It was the mental issues that took over.”
Another uncle, Eddy Stephen, told the Post he was “speechless” when he heard from relatives that “Erin killed her three children.”
Her uncle said Merry “did some crazy things” but “it was nothing that could harm her children or herself.”
“She did some crazy things, but nothing that could harm her children or herself,” Eddy told the outlet.
Uncles say young mother ‘drank a little’, didn’t seem stable
When asked about Merdy’s substance use habits, Eddy said that she “used to party here and there, drink a little bit,” but that he didn’t see any drug abuse “or see that she was really irresponsible.”
“She liked to party here and there, drink a little bit, but I didn’t see any drug abuse and I didn’t see that she was really irresponsible. It’s just tragic. I don’t know. She never gave us the sign that she would hurt her children. She loved her children.”
And another uncle, Jean Stephen, 64, told the Post that Merdy didn’t handle relationships well and didn’t seem to “have his life in order”, adding that he “didn’t seem stable”.
“I don’t think she can handle a relationship or anything like that. She didn’t seem like she was that kind of person. She didn’t look like she was stable,” the relative said.
The mother was unable to bring her son to the recent custody exchange, she removed the boy from the youth soccer team before the deaths
A third uncle, Levy Stephen, shed a little more light on the timeline behind Merdy’s mental health issues.
He said that the two used to be in contact “all the time”, but that in 2015 or 2016, “she disappeared from the face of the earth”. Levy said “now, (he’s) blaming himself” for not finding a way to get in touch with her, and wondered if he would have if the tragedy had been prevented.
“There was a time when Erin and I were in contact all the time, but in 2015, 2016, she disappeared from Earth. I didn’t know how to get in touch with her,” Merdy’s uncle, Levy Stephen, told the Post.
“Now I’m blaming myself for it. He obviously needed help, and you can’t help but think, ‘Maybe I could have…'”
Law enforcement sources said that in July, Merdy failed to take her son to a custody exchange before a scheduled six-week visit with the boy’s father.
And in May, Merdy dropped the boy from his youth soccer team without explanation, according to his coach Allen McFarland, who said “he seemed to be doing a lot of juggling.”
McFarland broke the news of Zachary’s death to his former teammates at practice Monday night, the Post reports. In a final farewell, the young footballers released Zachary’s number 15 jersey balloons into the sky and shouted “Zachary, we love you.”