Brooklyn mom suspected of drowning her three young children Monday was facing eviction from his apartment, battling custody issues and dealing with mental health issues before he allegedly killed the children, The Post has learned.
Erin Merdy, 30, of Coney Island, owed more than $10,000 in back rent on her Neptune Avenue apartment where she lived with her children and had been threatened with eviction since January, after the state’s eviction moratorium expired for COVID-19, according to court records. to show.
The mother, who reportedly told relatives she drowned her children — Oliver, 3 months, Liliana, 4, and Zachary, 7 — at a nearby beach early Monday, had stopped paying her rent. $1,531 per month. in July 2021 and she received an eviction notice days before the moratorium was set to expire in January, records show.
Family members contacted by The Post on Monday said Merdy had seemed unstable in recent years and had trouble maintaining stable relationships.
“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…’
“I am speechless. It’s not every day you lose three family members in one day,” she said. “Nobody wants to go to the funeral and see those three bodies.”
Another uncle, Jean Stephen, 64, said Merdy didn’t seem to “have his life in order.
“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.
“Anyone can go out and just fool around, but a stable person can settle down with just one person. She didn’t have her life organized enough to do that.”
Around 1 a.m. Monday, concerned family members called police to report that Merdy may be drunk and have done something to harm her children. Hours later, the mother was found by police walking barefoot on the sand at Coney Island beach, wearing a bathrobe and appearing dazed.
Police sources said that before police found her, she told relatives that she “drowned all three children.” The children were later found unconscious along the shoreline, just three blocks from their home on Neptune Avenue, and were pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital shortly after.
Merdy’s aunt, Dine Stephen, said she knew her niece was struggling, but she didn’t know how badly.
“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.
“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, said he was “speechless” when he heard from relatives that “Erin killed her three children.
“She did some crazy things, but nothing that could harm her children or herself,” Eddy said.
“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.”
Merdy’s uncle, Levy, said his niece was in the middle of a custody dispute with the father of 7-year-old Zachary before Monday’s horror.
“He had issues with the way she was raising the girl, from what I understand,” Levy said.
“She went off the grid after that, changed her numbers. She wasn’t on social media, at least not to the point of being able to find her.”
Law enforcement sources noted that Merdy had not brought her son to a custody exchange in July ahead of a planned six-week visit with the boy’s father.
In May, Merdy dropped Zachary from his youth soccer team without explanation, according to his coach.
“She never gave a straight answer as to why she stopped playing,” Allen McFarland, head coach of the CITY Silverbacks football team, told The Post. “She seemed like she was doing a lot of juggling.”
During the 2021 football season, Zachary was regularly picked up by coaches from the youth sports mentoring program for practice, fed dinner after games and dropped off at home, McFarland, 34, said.
They tried to convince Merdy to bring Zachary, who McFarland said loved football, back to the team to no avail.
“We felt like it would be a positive thing for him, to get him out of the house and get him involved,” the head coach said. “We practice four times a week for three hours a day. That would have been a nice relief for the household.”
The exact cause of death of the children has not yet been determined.
McFarland fought back tears as he imagined the terror Zachary must have endured at the end of his life.
“The person you should trust the most in the world is your mom,” he said. “A 7-year-old would have been excited to go to the beach. I can only imagine what that child was thinking at the time.”
The coach broke the tragic news to the boy’s former teammates at practice Monday night. The young football players released Zachary’s No. 15 jersey balloons into the sky over Coney Island and shouted “Zachary, we love you” in final goodbye.
No charges have been filed against Merdy, who was transported to New York University Langone Hospital Monday morning for a psychiatric evaluation.
“How does she come back from this? Even if you get your mind back, how do you get over the fact that you killed your children? Levy said.
“That is a shadow that is going to be over her for the rest of her life. That’s what worries me. I don’t think there is a support group for people who commit such a heinous crime. Are there people who are functional who have done this?”