Ebony Wilkerson, the 32-year-old mother who drove her minivan into the ocean, with her three children trapped inside the vehicle on Tuesday, has been charged with attempted murder. The Volusia County deputies office concluded that Wilkerson, who is also currently pregnant, purposefully drove her Honda Odyssey minivan into the waters of Daytona Beach with the intention of murdering her children.
Wilkerson is currently being held in custody at the Volusia County jail, pending a court appearance. She will be charged with three counts of attempted first degree murder and child abuse. Sheriff Ben Johnson reported that there had been no evidence to suggest that Wilkerson was either suffering mental illness or that she was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Sheriff Johnson said that Wilkerson took action with a, “premeditated design to kill her three children.”
On Tuesday, Wilkerson was spotted exiting the her vehicle, as the children were stuck, screaming inside. The sheriff’s office reported that her children who are 3, 9, and 10 years old, were told by Wilkerson to relax, close their eyes and sleep, as they would be going to a safer place.
Lifeguards and others on the beach witnessed the alarming spectacle, including Stacy Robinson, 21, who noticed the event and quickly jumped out of his car, running to stop the woman and free the children from the minivan.
When Robinson tried to talk Wilkerson out of what she was doing, she kept rambling that everything was OK, over and over again. Meanwhile one of her children was shouting from the window in a desperate plea for help.
Once authorities arrived on the scene, the children were rescued and taken in by the Department of Children and Families, while Wilkerson was hospitalized at the Halifax Health Medical Center for a mental illness evaluation.
In the hours before the dramatic event, Wilkerson’s family members had called the police with concerns of Wilkerson’s mental stability, stating that she had talked about demons before leaving her sister’s house in Daytona. Wilkerson, who is originally from Cross, South Carolina, had fled to Florida this past week to escape her abusive husband.
When the police stopped Wilkerson, although he believed that she was suffering from some type of mental illness, she seemed coherent and lacking enough signs of mental instability to meet the Baker requirements. Her children were sitting quietly also, calm and smiling. While she showed no indication that she was purposefully intending to murder her children, Wilkerson had told the officer that she was fearful of her husband who was coming to Florida with the goal of hurting her and children.
The Florida Mental Health Act, which is commonly known as the Baker Act, gives authorities permission to involuntarily take citizens into custody if the show signs that they may be a threat to themselves.
Authorities have concluded for now that Wilkerson purposefully intended to murder her children on Tuesday by drowning them in her vehicle. Although reports state that her mental evaluation showed no signs of mental illness, a recent update confirmed that Wilkerson had been a victim of domestic abuse from her husband Lutful Ronjon. A police report was filed in 2005 stating that Ronjon had punched Wilkerson.
By Natalia Sanchez