Father of one of the drowned Coney Island children insists ‘killer’ mom ‘isn’t a monster’

Father of one of the drowned Coney Island children insists ‘killer’ mom ‘isn’t a monster’ as daughter is laid to rest at funeral in Queens

  • Shamir Small said his ex, Erin Merdy, 30, loved their four-year-old daughter Lily Stephen, even though she drowned the girl and her two half siblings last week
  • Lily was buried in Cypress, Queens, today, in a white casket and wearing a pink dress
  • Speaking after the burial Small said he hoped Lily would be remembered for how she lived, instead of how she died 

The father of a four-year-old girl drowned by her mother at Coney Island laid his daughter to rest on Monday, but insisted his ex was not a ‘monster’ while speaking after the funeral. 

Shamir Small said his ex, Erin Merdy, 30, loved their four-year-old daughter Liliana ‘Lily’ Stephen, even though she drowned the girl and her two half siblings last week. 

‘Contrary to what happened, she was loved by her mother,’ said Small.

‘I don’t care what no one says,’ he said, ‘What [Merdy] did was monstrous, but she herself is not a monster.’

Small also said he wanted his daughter to be remembered for how she lived, and not how she died.

‘I don’t want her to be remembered or known as how she passed,’ he said, ‘I don’t even want to hear about it anymore.

‘Don’t want to see it, read it, or nothing. I just want everyone to remember that Lily, for four years, was loved by all her family members.’

Lily was dressed in a pink dress before being laid out in a white casket, which was buried in Cypress, Queens. A Barbie doll was placed inside her coffin with her. 

Merdy faces charges of three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of depraved indifference to human life, and three counts of murder with the victims under 11 years old, an NYPD spokesperson said. She has not yet appeared in court because she hasn’t been medically cleared to do so.

Lily was dressed in a pink dress before being laid out in a white casket, which was buried in Cypress, Queens. A Barbie doll was placed inside her coffin with her

Lily was dressed in a pink dress before being laid out in a white casket, which was buried in Cypress, Queens. A Barbie doll was placed inside her coffin with her

Shamir Small said his ex, Erin Merdy, 30, loved their four-year-old daughter Liliana 'Lily' Stephen, even though she drowned the girl and her two half siblings last week

Shamir Small said his ex, Erin Merdy, 30, loved their four-year-old daughter Liliana ‘Lily’ Stephen, even though she drowned the girl and her two half siblings last week

Merdy had mental health issues for years and suffered from post-partum depression but was not properly evaluated just months before she allegedly drowned her three kids, the youngest only four months old. 

The city medical examiner determined last Tuesday that in addition to Lily, seven-year-old Zachary Merdy and three-month-old Oliver Bondarev died by drowning. 

Just months earlier, Merdy ‘slipped through the cracks’ of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services reported New York Daily News. 

Merdy sent a terrifying text to family members before her children died that read ‘the babies are gone,’ prompting panic and a search by police that ended with the heartbreaking discovery of the three unconscious children.

The funeral of Liliana 'Lily' Stephen on Monday. The four-year-old girl was drowned by her mother last week

The funeral of Liliana ‘Lily’ Stephen on Monday. The four-year-old girl was drowned by her mother last week

Small also said he wanted his daughter to be remembered for how she lived, and not how she died

Small also said he wanted his daughter to be remembered for how she lived, and not how she died

NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said the mother had told cops she had a dream about walking her kids into the water.

‘We believe she went into water and drowned the kids… Regarding the motive, we’re going to leave that up to the health care professionals,’ Essig said. 

Jacqueline Scott, told the New York Daily News that her daughter was a good mother.

‘She might have been going through postpartum depression. She was a good mother,’ she told the publication. 

‘I reached out to her yesterday and she said she was doing laundry and I said I wanted to speak to the kids. I tried to call her twice on the phone and there was no answer.’ 

Scott added that she was one of a number of concerned relatives who had been trying to reach Merdy on the night of September 11. 

Police were called to an apartment on Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn, at 1.40am September 12 after a call from a concerned family member.

The caller said that they believed Merdy may have harmed her three children, and officers attended but could not find the family. 

At 3.15am police received a second call of a woman in ‘distress’ walking around barefoot on the boardwalk of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

Merdy claimed that her three children were missing, before they were found unresponsive on the beach two miles away.

The three children were found unconscious on the beach, and were transported to hospital where they were pronounced dead.  

Erin Merdy's apartment being guarded be a Police Officer, New York, U.S., September 12, 2022

Erin Merdy’s apartment being guarded be a Police Officer, New York, U.S., September 12, 2022

Police were called at 3.15am on September 12 to reports of a woman, 30, in 'distress' walking around barefoot on the boardwalk of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

Police were called at 3.15am on September 12 to reports of a woman, 30, in ‘distress’ walking around barefoot on the boardwalk of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

'Bright' Zachary Mendy, 7, was one of three siblings who was found dead on a beach in Brooklyn

‘Bright’ Zachary Mendy, 7, was one of three siblings who was found dead on a beach in Brooklyn

Merdy was initially taken to the police precinct but was later driven to hospital in an ambulance.

Cops had previously responded to six domestic incidents involving the distressed mother, including one on July 2 where she refused to hand over the children to her husband. 

Court records indicated that Merdy had been threatened with eviction for being thousands of dollars behind on her rent. 

Alfred Brown, Zachary’s football coach, said the last time he saw the little boy was on June 25. 

He told DailyMail.com: ‘This year he did not play, he was supposed to stay with his dad over the summer.

‘He’d always say ”coach, coach, coach” – to not hear him say it today is just heart breaking. 

‘I called him Zac Attack. His mom looked pretty normal but we can all mask our problems. 

‘Zach was very bubbly, bright, giggly and full of life. The smile on his face was worth the world to me.’ 

Joseph, 60, a maintenance worker in the building where Merdy lives, said: ‘I’m speechless… To go and drown your children – I wonder what was on her mind and what led up to that. 

‘People love their children, was she overwhelmed by the responsibility? It’s just a sad situation.’

Officers confirmed that there had not been a history of abuse or neglect against the children in a press conference

Officers confirmed that there had not been a history of abuse or neglect against the children in a press conference

The father of one of the children reportedly told officers at her apartment block, pictured, that  he was concerned for their safety, after their mother made several statements saying she would harm them

The father of one of the children reportedly told officers at her apartment block, pictured, that  he was concerned for their safety, after their mother made several statements saying she would harm them

Merdy reportedly told officers that her three children were missing, before they were found unresponsive on the beach three miles away

Merdy reportedly told officers that her three children were missing, before they were found unresponsive on the beach three miles away

The children, a seven-year-old boy, four-year-old girl, and three-month-old baby girl were rushed to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival

The children, a seven-year-old boy, four-year-old girl, and three-month-old baby girl were rushed to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival 

Victor Rodriguez, 54, another neighbor, added: ‘I used to see her all the time, her kids would always ask if they could pet my dog. 

‘Everything seemed fine with her but when Covid hit she looked depressed. She wasn’t so friendly anymore. And kept to herself. 

‘It’s devastating, especially when you know the kids. They were very sweet and respectful they seemed happy kids – not a care in the world. 

‘I think Covid had something to do with it. Before Covid and after Covid it was like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – two different people.’ 

An NYPD spokesman added that there were no known prior instances of abuse or neglect against the children. 

Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information on the tragedy to come forward. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

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