A heartbroken father has revealed tragic photos of his four-year-old girl, who was allegedly drowned by her mother along with her two siblings.
Lilina Stephen and siblings Zachary Merdy, 7, and 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev were found Monday morning after a three-hour search on Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn.
Father Shamir Small released pictures of his four-year-old daughter after distraught mother Erin Merdy, 30, allegedly admitted to drowning her children, according to the NYPD.
In one of the photos, Merdy can be seen distractedly eating while Small and Lilina smile for the camera.
Other photos appear to show the happy boy on his way to ballet class, holding a baby doll.
For each of her children, Erin Merdy, 30, has been charged with murder, murder with depraved indifference to human life and murder of a victim under the age of 11, police said.
Although she was never arrested, police had previously responded to several domestic incidents involving her.
Police first responded to an 911 call received from Merdy’s sister around 1.40am Monday.
“The caller indicated that she was concerned that her family member might have harmed her three young children,” NYPD Department Chief Kenneth Corey said.
When police got to Merdy’s home, they found the door unlocked, but no one was there.
Authorities then encountered the father of one of the children “who expressed similar concerns and said he believed the woman and children were on the boardwalk,” Corey said.
Police then searched the Brooklyn neighborhood for about 90 minutes before receiving another 911 call.
They found Merdy with other family members near Brighton Sixth St. in Brighton Beach.
“She was wet, she was barefoot, and she wasn’t communicative with officers,” Corey said.
A police source told the New York Daily News that Merdy was drunk and emotionally disturbed and that she called a cousin and admitted to drowning the children.
The three children were found unconscious on the shore of the beach near W. 35th Street just after 4:40 a.m.
“Officials immediately began life-saving measures, including CPR,” Corey said.
The three children were taken to Coney Island Hospital, where they were later pronounced dead.
Merdy’s estranged ex-husband, Derrick Merdy, told the New York Times that Zachary, his son, often came to visits dirty and complained that he hadn’t had enough food.
The two were reportedly locked in a custody battle, a relative told the New York Post.
“As far as I know, he had issues with how she raised the child,” Levy Stephen told the outlet.
“She sort of disappeared from the grid after she changed her numbers. She wasn’t on social media — at least not to the point where I could find her.”
Alfred Brown, who coached Zachary’s soccer team at PS 188, told the Post he was “devastated” by the children’s deaths.
“I’m with them at school, I’m with them in the field – I’m damn close to their uncle. It’s hard right now … I love every kid that plays for me like my own,” said Brown, who also lives in the same apartment building as the family.
“Zach was a very bubbly kid who was full of life. Just full of energy, you know you have to say ‘enough, enough’.”
Brown said he doesn’t know Merdy very well and called her a “very quiet woman”.
“As far as I know, she was a good mother. She was always with her children, always with her babies. You never know what people go through. People hide their depression very well,” he said.
The investigation into the three dead continues.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6233218/father-of-drowned-child-releases-heartbreaking-photos/ Heartbroken father reveals tragic images of three siblings found dead on beach after ‘mother drowned children’