A pregnant mother has driven her minivan with her three children into the ocean and was in such a daze following the incident that she even attempted to block rescuers from saving the children. Three days earlier, the woman, Ebony Wilkerson, reported that her husband had raped her in a South Carolina hotel room.
The woman, who is pregnant with her fourth child, has been undergoing a mental health evaluation and has been kept in hospital since Tuesday. Wilkerson’s relatives have been worried about her, as she had been talking about demons and Jesus being in the room with her. When police spoke with her earlier in the week, though, they said she was lucid and let her carry on her way. Wilkerson told police that she had been working with a domestic violence shelter to find a safe home for her and her three children. She had been staying with her sister in Daytona Beach for the time being, and her sister had called police earlier in the week when Wilkerson started talking about seeing demons.
Wilkerson called police in Myrtle Beach, SC on Sunday and said that her husband had held her down and raped her. Lutful Ronjon, 31, had been arrested in 2005 for domestic violence, but in interviewing Ronjon, police did not arrest him, choosing instead to continue with the interview and investigation processes. Ronjon has a prior conviction for domestic violence that dates back to 2005.
Four days after the alleged assault, Wilkerson, who is pregnant with her fourth child, drove her 3 children into the ocean in an effort to kill them. People at the beach when Wilkerson came driving past happened to see her son snatching at the steering wheel, and when Wilkerson got out of the vehicle, the boy started screaming that his mother was trying to kill them all out the window of the Black Honda Odyssey she was driving.
When rescuers Tim Tesseneer and Stacy Robinson leapt into action, it seemed as though Wilkerson was trying to block their efforts. She stayed a few feet away from the van while the rescue was going on and had the older kids not mentioned that there was also a baby in the back of the van, the outcome of the incident could have been quite different.
The children are currently in custody with the Florida Department of Children and Families and officials have noted that the children have been through a harrowing ordeal. Officials say that when the time is right, the children will be put in the care of a family member, but they want to ensure that the children are loved and cared for while their mother continues to be hospitalized.
Ebony Wilkerson, the pregnant mother of three who drove her minivan into the ocean near Florida, apparently reacted numbly, telling rescuers “OK,” a number of times but with wide, blank staring eyes. While the children are definitely shaken as a result of their ordeal, the children were rescued and are doing well. During the police stop, police officers noticed that there was something about Wilkerson that led them to think she had some sort of mental illness, but there was nothing beyond a hunch that there was something wrong with the woman. Without concrete evidence, which was lacking in this case, police were unable to bring the woman in for mental health assistance under the Baker Act. The woman has been arrested on attempted murder charges.
By Christina St-Jean