BY EMILY RASMUSSEN AND ELIZABETH CHOU
Long Beach Press-Telegram
A woman taken into custody after her three young children were stabbed to death at a Reseda apartment was in a custody dispute with the father, who requested her mental health be evaluated, court records show.
The three children were discovered by their grandmother on Saturday morning, Los Angeles police said, and the mother, 30-year-old Liliana Carrillo, was apprehended hours later in Tulare County.
Court records from March identify the children as Joanna, 3, Terry, 2, and Sierra, nearly 6 months old. The father, Erik Denton lives in Porterville. Carrillo was taken into custody in the Ponderosa area on Saturday.
On March 1, Denton filed for custody of the children and, later that week, filed for a temporary emergency visitation order with the Tulare County courts.
He also filed for a mental health evaluation of Carrillo on March 26, records show.
On March 12, Carrillo was granted a temporary restraining order for her and her children through the Los Angeles County courts against Denton, barring him from harassing, threatening or violent behavior.
Court records showed the children lived with both parents in Van Nuys for a few months in 2018, until they moved to Murrieta in September of that year through March 2019.
The family then moved to Porterville, where they all lived until Feb. 25, when Carrillo and the children came to Reseda, records show.
Teri Miller, cousin of the children’s father, told Fox11 Carrillo was “very sick and she was not herself” in recent months. Miller said the father was reaching out to Child Protective Service and police to get Carrillo help and to get his children home safely.
“He did everything that he could think of to get his kids back home safely and to get her help, too,” Miller said. “He still loved her, but she just was not herself. So he’s also frustrated with the system, because the system failed them.”
Asked about potential involvement with the family, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services said in a statement: “State law protects the confidentiality of records for all children and families who may have come to the attention of child protective services, and prohibits confirming or commenting on whether a child or family has been involved with the department.”
“The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services joins the community in mourning the loss of the three children in Reseda,” the statement said.
Miller said Denton was shocked and devastated. He had planned to pick the children up on Sunday to buy them fish for their new fish tank, she said.
A GoFundMe page for the family shows a picture of the three young children with their father, who holds the youngest as the two other siblings appear to be playing with bubbles. The same page referred to Carrillo as Denton’s “ex-girlfriend.”
Lupe Cuevas, a neighbor of the Carrillo family in Reseda, said she often saw the grandmother with the three youngsters, who she described as angels.
A memorial that began Saturday night outside of the apartment in the 8000 block of Reseda Boulevard had grown on Sunday. People had left flowers, candles and toys in honor of the children.
That’s where Gabriela Gómez-Naranjo had joined her sister and mother, Blanca Naranjo, Sunday afternoon, where they brought small, white crosses affixed with photographs of each of the children. They solemnly pounded them into a dirt area behind the dozens of candles that had been placed in front of the apartment complex on Saturday and Sunday.
They carefully placed down two stuffed unicorns, one that was sparkly pink, next to the picture of Joanna stopping to grin for the camera as she ate fries and crispy chicken pieces, and the other, a purple one, next to a picture of Sierra wearing a jumper decorated with sock monkeys.
Tulare County booking records showed Carillo was in custody at that county’s Adult Pre-Trial Facility on suspicion of second-degree robbery. By the time she was identified on Saturday, she had already driven near Bakersfield, where she allegedly crashed her vehicle and carjacked a Good Samaritan who had tried to help her, according to authorities. She was eventually apprehended in the Ponderosa area.
She was be held in lieu of $60,000 bond, records show.
Police declined to say whether they’d found a weapon, citing a fluid investigation in which a motive was still being established.
“It’s going to be a lengthy process, but we do have the person we were looking for,” said LAPD Officer Mike Lopez.
Southern California News Group staff writer Scott Schwebke and Daily News Local Editor Ryan Carter contributed to this story.