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‘She will always be with me’: Family holds funeral for 4-year-old Liliana Merdy one week after tragic Coney Island drowning

woman holds balloon at liliana merdy funeral service
The grandmother of 4-year-old Liliana Merdy prepares to release a balloon after Liliana’s funeral service on Monday, Sept. 19.
Lloyd Mitchell

The family of four-year-old Liliana Merdy remembered the little girl at her funeral service on Flatbush on Monday morning, a week after she and her two brothers were allegedly drowned by their mother on Coney Island.

“I want her to always be with me,” said Liliana’s father, Shamir Small. “She was always bossing me around. I am getting a butterfly tattoo to remember her. She will always be with me.”

liliana merdy father after funeral
Liliana’s father, Shamir Small, said his daughter will “always be with me” after she was killed on Sept. 12.Lloyd Mitchell
man holding locket at funeral
Liliana’s father Shamir Small held a small locket as he spoke about his four-year-old daughter after her funeral service. Liliana was found dead on the beach on Coney Island on Sept. 12 after her mother allegedly drowned she and her two brothers. Lloyd Mitchell

Mourners held tightly to the strings of pink and white star balloons as they prepared to see Liliana’s white casket off after the funeral. As the hearse departed, her loved ones released the 20 balloons into the sky in her memory.

Liliana and her brothers, 7-year-old Zachary and three-month-old Oliver, were found unresponsive on the Coney Island shoreline last week after family members reported concerns about the welfare of the children and their mother, Erin Merdy, to police. All three children were later pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital.

women with liliana merdy's casket
Women of the Merdy family brought out Liliana’s casket after her Sept. 19 funeral service. Lloyd Mitchell
two women hug behind hearse after funeral
Two women embrace in a hug after Liliana’s funeral service on Sept. 19. Lloyd Mitchell

Merdy has since been charged with three counts of murder, and is being held at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn for psychiatric evaluation. 

“Her mother loved her despite everything you heard going on,” Small said at Monday’s funeral.

Families mourned Liliana and Zachary at a joint wake last week, and the community honored the children at a vigil on the Coney Island boardwalk on Sept. 16.

“If they can make an impact, we want to hold onto [it],” said Pastor Hester Williams, following Liliana’s service. “She lit up the room. This is our responsibility to give strength to the family. The grandparents are getting love.”

Zachary, a “star” player with the C.I.T.Y. Silverbacks football team, was “a very quiet young man but he was very expressive in showing laughter, joy [or] smiling,” his coach, Allen McFarland, said at last week’s vigil.

woman looking up at sky
Liliana Merdy’s grandmother releases a balloon after the funeral service of her four-year-old granddaughter, who was killed last week alongside her two brothers. Lloyd Mitchell
balloon release at funeral
Liliana’s family released 20 pink and white star balloons as her casket was taken away from the funeral home following Monday’s service. Lloyd Mitchell

According to the New York Times, Merdy had long struggled to care for herself and her children, and Zachary’s father, who was seeking custody of his son, reported he lived in poor conditions at his mother’s home.

Merdy, who was arraigned virtually from her hospital bed last week, is scheduled for a second remote court appearance on Sept. 20. 

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