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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.