Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Mom attempted to kill her 3 kids

09 March 2014, 07:33

Orlando - A pregnant South Carolina woman pointed to the ocean, locked the doors of her minivan and rolled up the windows, telling her three children she was "trying to take them to a better place" as she drove her vehicle into the surf, authorities said.

Ebony Wilkerson even tried to call off bystanders hustling to rescue her screaming children from the water, saying "everyone was okay" as she left the van in the ocean, an affidavit said. Wilkerson, 32, is charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts child abuse causing great bodily harm.

Volusia County Court Judge Shirley Green found probable cause for the charges during Wilkerson's first appearance in court on Saturday and set her bond at $1.2m. A date for an arraignment was not released.

The bystanders and beach safety officers, paying no attention to the mother, pulled the two girls and a boy, ages 3, 9 and 10, through the windows to safety on Tuesday on Daytona Beach.

Later, Wilkerson denied trying to hurt her children, telling investigators she was driving too close to the water, "and the waves pulled her in", according to the charging affidavit.

Domestic violence

Her children told investigators another story.

"Mom tried to kill us," they told detectives, according to the document. "Mom is crazy."

Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said Wilkerson, of North Charleston, was in the custody of the sheriff's office after being hospitalised for a mental evaluation.

The children told authorities they had come to Florida from South Carolina earlier in the week to escape their father. They described a history of violence between their parents, and they said their mother had been "acting crazy and speaking to Jesus" since they had come to stay with Wilkerson's sister in Daytona Beach.

The sister, Jessica Harrell, didn't return a phone call from The Associated Press, but she was worried about Wilkerson's mental health and called a police emergency dispatcher hours before the minivan ended up in the ocean.

When she was driving into the ocean, one of the children asked her what she was doing, and she said: "'I am keeping us all safe,'" according to the affidavit. The boy tried to wrestle the steering wheel away from Wilkerson.

"She told them to close their eyes and go to sleep. She was trying to take them to a better place," Johnson said at a news conference.


A child also lowered the windows and the siblings yelled for help, attracting the bystanders.

"I've got to do this," Wilkerson told bystander Stacy Robinson as he attempted to intervene, according to the affidavit.

One of the rescuers, Tim Tesseneer, said Wilkerson's eyes were wide open and she looked "possessed". Wilkerson tried to prevent a beach safety officer from entering the vehicle to rescue the toddler who was the last to be removed from the minivan, Tesseneer told detectives. The children are with the Department of Children and Families.

Two days before what happened on the beach, Wilkerson told North Charleston police that she was in a violent fight with her husband of 14 years at a hotel room in Myrtle Beach and had gone to a hospital for treatment, according to an incident report.

She also told police that after she packed up the car and kids at their apartment, her husband made a motion as if he was going to grab her, but she got into the car before he could, the report said.

Myrtle Beach police say they are investigating what happened at the hotel but no charges were filed. Phone numbers for Wilkerson's husband were disconnected.

Her sister told the emergency dispatcher she had tried to take Wilkerson to a hospital the day before the minivan ended up in the surf but Wilkerson had checked herself out. She said Wilkerson had been abused by her husband and that police should check on her.


Harrell told the dispatcher that Wilkerson was "talking about Jesus and how there are demons in my house".

Harrell said she had taken Wilkerson's car keys away but her sister had found another set and driven off with the children.

After the call to dispatch, Daytona Beach officers stopped Wilkerson's black Honda Odyssey and she expressed fear that her husband would be coming to Florida to harm her and her children.

The children were sitting quietly, smiling, and showed no signs of distress, the police report said.

"It was clear during my conversation that Wilkerson was suffering from some form of mental illness, but she was lucid," the Daytona Beach police officer said in the report.

- AP

Tags us

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...