Mom Arrested in Death of Her 3 Children Was in Custody Dispute

April 12, 2021 Updated: April 12, 2021

LOS ANGELES—The woman arrested on suspicion of killing her three young children at her Los Angeles apartment had been involved in a custody dispute with their father, according to a newspaper report Sunday.

Liliana Carrillo, 30, was arrested Saturday in Tulare County after fleeing the gruesome scene and leading law enforcement officers on a long-distance chase, authorities said.

The Los Angeles Times cites family court documents that show Erik Denton sought custody of the children—ages 3, 2 and 6 months—on March 1.

Denton requested a temporary emergency visitation order from the court on March 4 and petitioned for a mental health evaluation of Carrillo, according to the newspaper. Orders were drawn up at a March 26 hearing. Another hearing in the case was scheduled for April 14.

In response, Carrillo sought a temporary domestic violence restraining order against Denton on March 12 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, documents show.

In a brief interview with the Times, Denton confirmed he was the father of the three children—two girls and a boy—and said he’d been in a custody battle with Carrillo after she began acting mentally unstable.

memorial for three children killed
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)

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

The children’s grandmother returned home from work Saturday morning and found the bodies and the mother missing, Los Angeles police Lt. Raul Jovel said.

Police said initial reports suggested the children had been stabbed to death, but no official cause of death has been released.

Los Angeles Police investigate the scene of a homicide
Los Angeles Police investigate the scene of a homicide where three young children were found slain at the Royal Villa apartments complex in Reseda, Calif., on April 10, 2021. (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

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

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.