Husband of Minivan Mom: Abuse Charge Driven by 'Mental Illness'

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The husband of Ebony Wilkerson, the mother accused of trying to murder her three children by driving her minivan into the ocean, said Monday that her claims of abuse are “the result of extreme mental illness.”

In a statement through his lawyer, the husband, Lutful Ronjon, thanked God for the rescuers who charged into the heavy surf of the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday to pull the children to safety.

Authorities in Florida charged Wilkerson, 32, with three counts of attempted first-degree murder. The sheriff said investigators found no evidence of mental illness. A judge set bail for Wilkerson at $1.2 million.

The children, 3, 9 and 10, were taken to a hospital but were not seriously hurt.

“It would be inappropriate at this time to comment on any of the issues involving the minor children,” Ronjon’s statement said. “The domestic violence allegations against Mr. Ronjon are baseless and are the result of extreme mental illness.”

In the days before the van went into the water, Wilkerson told police in Myrtle Beach, S.C., that Ronjon raped her in a hotel room. Police in Myrtle Beach spoke with Ronjon, 31, but did not make an arrest.

Wilkerson packed the kids and drove the van to Florida. She stopped on the way and told police that she believed she was being followed. Wilkerson’s sister called 911 earlier Tuesday and said she believed Wilkerson was having a psychotic episode.

A spokesman for the Myrtle Beach police, Capt. David Knipes, said Monday that the investigation into the rape allegation is on hold because of the charges against Wilkerson in Florida. He said police had not spoken further to Ronjon.