Pregnant mom who drove kids into ocean charged with attempted murder

March 7, 2014 

Lifeguards and bystanders at Daytona Beach rescue three children from a minivan that their mother drove into the ocean Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

COURTESY BAY NEWS 9

DAYTONA BEACH — The Volusia County Sheriff's Office has announced charges of attempted murder against a pregnant mother who drove her three children into the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday, Bay News 9 is reporting.

Ebony Wilkerson, 32, was taken into deputy custody Friday on three counts of attempted first-degree murder. Sheriff Ben Johnson said she is being booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail.

On Wednesday, the South Carolina woman's sister said the pregnant woman had talked about demons before leaving the house. The worried sister called police.

After the call to dispatch Tuesday, Daytona Beach police officers stopped 31-year-old Ebony Wilkerson's black Honda Odyssey and she expressed fear that her husband would be coming to Florida to harm her and her children, said Police Chief Mike Chitwood.

"When we spoke with her she was lucid," Chitwood said. "The children were in the back seat, they were buckled in and were not in distress. Although the sergeant said she looked like she had some mental illness, she did not fit the criteria for going into custody under the Baker Act."

The Florida Mental Health Act, commonly known as the Baker Act, allows authorities to involuntarily take people into custody if they seem to be a threat to themselves.

Two hours after the police stop, Wilkerson drove into the ocean. Bystanders and officers helped pull her and her children — ages 3, 9 and 10 — from their minivan as it was almost submerged.

Ebony Wilkerson's sister told police she was concerned about her sister's mental state, Chitwood said.

"Her sister had called dispatch and told them that she (Wilkerson) had been talking about demons that day before she left the house," Chitwood said.

Chitwood said Wilkerson went to Halifax Health Medical Center on Monday to voluntarily check herself but then decided against it and walked out.

The children were turned over to welfare authorities. The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said Wilkerson was undergoing a mental evaluation. Sheriff Ben Johnson said it's too early to say whether Wilkerson will face criminal charges.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service