Calif. Mother Charged with the Murders of Her 3 Children Ages 3 and Under

Liliana Carrillo confessed to drowning her three children in an interview from jail last week

3 Kids murdered by Liliana Carrillo in Reseda, CA
Liliana Carrillo's three children Joanna, Terry and Sierra. Photo: GoFundMe

A California mother has been charged with the murder of her three kids five days after confessing to drowning the children in a jailhouse interview with a local television station.

Liliana Carrillo, 30, was charged with three counts of murder with an allegation of using a knife as a deadly and dangerous weapon as to her youngest child, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Monday.

Carrillo was accused earlier this month of killing her three young children — Joanna, 3, Terry, 2, and Sierra, 6 months — on April 10 in Reseda.

The mother and the children's father, Erik Denton, were in a contentious custody battle over the kids, PEOPLE previously reported, and Carillo has claimed that she was was protecting them from Denton.

Liliana Carrillo
Liliana Carrillo. LAPD

In an interview with KGET, Carillo admitted to drowning the kids.

"I drowned them," she told KGET, despite being charged with using a knife as a deadly and dangerous weapon. "I did it as softly, I don't know how to explain it. I hugged them. I kissed them. I was apologizing the whole time. I loved my kids."

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Carillo claimed in the interview that Denton was abusing the kids: "I didn't want them to be further abused. I loved my kids. I wish this didn't have to be the case, but I promised to protect them," she said.

Authorities had initially said Carrillo stabbed the children to death. Police previously told PEOPLE the children were observed with stab wounds, but their causes of death would be determined by the coroner.

After the triple murder, Carillo allegedly fled the scene and was eventually arrested in Tulare County — after attempting to take her own life, KGET reported.

Denton has described Carillo as "extremely paranoid," and in March told a Tulare County judge that he was "afraid" for his children's "physical and mental well-being," the Los Angeles Times reported. Denton had reportedly been granted physical custody of the kids and was scheduled to see them on April 11, one day after the murders.

In a statement Monday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said: "Our hearts go out to the family of these children who are coping with this tremendous loss. My office has reached out to the survivors to offer trauma-informed services during these incredibly difficult times."

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