Coroner Identifies 3 Young Children Killed in Los Angeles

April 12, 2021 Updated: April 12, 2021

LOS ANGELES—Authorities have identified the three young children who were killed in a gruesome slaying in Los Angeles over the weekend. Their mother is the suspect in their deaths and in custody Monday.

The autopsies of 3-year-old Joanna Denton Carrillo, her 2-year-old brother, Terry, and 6-month-old sister, Sierra, were pending on Monday, coroner’s records said. Their mother, Liliana Carrillo, was held in Kern County on Monday afternoon on carjacking-related charges as Los Angeles authorities planned to seek her extradition.

A memorial of photographs, candles, flowers and balloons grew outside the apartment complex Monday, days after the children’s grandmother returned home from work Saturday morning and found their bodies in their apartment in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Reseda.

A GoFundMe fundraiser for the father had garnered more than $30,000 in donations by Monday afternoon.

3 dead children
Photos, candles, flowers and balloons are placed as a memorial for three children who were killed at the Royal Villa apartments complex in the Reseda section of Los Angeles, on April 12, 2021. (Richard Vogel/AP Photo)

Police have not disclosed a motive or how the children were killed. The Los Angeles Times reported that the children’s father, Erik Denton, said he’d been in a custody battle with Carrillo after she began acting mentally unstable. He had sought custody on March 1 and petitioned the court for a mental health evaluation of Carrillo. Another hearing in the case was scheduled for Wednesday.

Denton said he tried to get local authorities to intervene, but “in L.A. they wouldn’t help. The LAPD would not get involved,” he told the newspaper.

He said Carrillo was supposed to turn over the kids to him on Sunday.

Attorneys who represent Denton and Carrillo in the family court case did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Liliana Carrillo
Liliana Carrillo. (LAPD)

Carrillo was arrested Saturday in the Ponderosa area of Tulare County, about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, according to the LAPD. She had been held in Tulare County jail on $60,000 bail before being transferred to the custody of Kern County officials on Monday.

Authorities said police initially received reports that Carrillo was driving her car and heading north on Interstate 5 when she got in an altercation in the Bakersfield area in Kern County. She abandoned her car and carjacked another vehicle, police said.

By Stefanie Dazio