Three young children, one just 3 months old, died after police discovered them early Monday morning on New York’s Coney Island beach and held their mother suspected of drowning them, authorities said.
The grim discovery came at 4:42 a.m., about 90 minutes after police began a frantic search for the children, whose 30-year-old mother was found soaked, barefoot and uncommunicative on the Coney Island Boardwalk, police officials said in a news release. conference. An official aware of the investigation told TBEN News that the mother was “almost catatonic” when police tried to talk to her Monday morning.
Detectives are investigating whether postpartum depression played a role in the triple homicide, the official said.
Kenneth Corey, chief of the New York Police Department, said officers immediately performed CPR on the children, who were taken to Coney Island Hospital, where they were all pronounced dead. Although autopsies will be performed to determine the cause of death, police suspect the children died from drowning, officials said.
Corey described the children as a 7-year-old boy, a 4-year-old girl and a 3-month-old girl. Their names were not immediately released.
Corey said the incident happened around 1:40 a.m., when a family member called 911 and said she was afraid the mother would harm the children.
“I believe she (the mother) called them and made statements to that effect,” Corey said.
Officers went to the mother’s apartment in Coney Island, knocked on the door but got no answer, Corey said. A man who identified himself as the father of one of the children showed up at the address, who also expressed concern for the children’s welfare and told officers he thought the mother had taken them to the boardwalk.
Corey said police immediately launched a search of the mother’s apartment, which was unlocked, the boardwalk, the surrounding neighborhood and the beach. They found the mother on the boardwalk with other family members, but her children were nowhere to be seen.
“She was soaking wet, she was barefoot and she didn’t communicate with the officers,” Corey said.
He said the search for the children was intensified with the deployment of NYPD helicopters and boats.
Corey said the children were found unresponsive on the waterfront at the boardwalk at W. 35th Street.
He said the mother was found about two miles from where police discovered her children.
Police said the deaths of the children appear to have been premeditated and not something that happened on a whim. Detectives are investigating the mother’s past and interviewing neighbors and relatives, officials said.
The mother has no previous arrests or a history of being emotionally disturbed, according to NYPD records. She has had previous domestic incidents of harassment and aggravated harassment that have not led to charges, according to the records.
“The best we can say at this point, and again it’s tentative, there’s no indication of a history of abuse and neglect of these children,” Corey said.
Corey said the mother, whose name was not released, was being held for questioning but has not been charged.
While police said they are investigating whether postpartum depression played a role in the episode, Dr. Anna Yegiants, a resident physician and member of the TBEN News Medical Unit, explains that there is a difference between postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
Yegiants said that while it is possible for someone with postpartum depression to harm their children, it is not common. However, she said postpartum psychosis essentially represents a break from reality and creates delusions that can lead to such violence.
According to the American Psychological Association, up to 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression, and symptoms can appear during pregnancy and last for days or even months after delivery.
“Postpartum depression isn’t your fault — it’s a real, but treatable, psychological disorder,” the APA says on its website. “If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, take action now: Put the baby in a safe place, such as a crib. Call a friend or family member for help if needed.”