VISALIA, Calif. — A Los Angeles woman who is suspected of killing her three children in their Southern California apartment and then leading police on a long-distance chase to Central California on Saturday was embroiled in a custody dispute over them, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Police have identified their mother, Liliana Carrillo, 30, as a suspect in the case. Just after 2 p.m., the LAPD reported that Carrillo was captured near Ponderosa, California, about 160 miles north of Los Angeles.
The Times reported Sunday Carrillo was embroiled in a tense child custody dispute, according to the children’s father and court documents.
Erik Denton, the father of the children — two girls and a boy, ages 3, 2 and 6 months — sought custody of them on March 1, according to Tulare County family court documents online.
Denton requested a temporary emergency visitation order from the family court in Porterville, California, on March 4 and petitioned for a mental health evaluation of Carrillo, according to court documents. 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, according to court documents.
Denton told the Times he tried to get local authorities to intervene, but “in LA they wouldn’t help. The LAPD would not get involved.” He said Carrillo was supposed to turn over the kids to him on Sunday.
The murdered children were discovered after their grandmother went inside an apartment in the Reseda neighborhood of Los Angeles and found they had been stabbed to death, Los Angeles police Sgt. David Bambrick told KNBC-TV.
Police said initial reports suggested the children had been stabbed to death, but no official cause of death has been released.
“These are the moments we carry throughout our career,” Los Angeles police Lt. Raul Jovel said at the scene, reported the Los Angeles Times. “It’s hard to process that as a police officer.”
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The department then received reports Carrillo was driving her car and heading north Saturday on Interstate 5 on her way to Ponderosa when she got in an altercation in the Bakersfield area. She abandoned her car and carjacked another vehicle, Jovel said.
Lupe Cuevas, a neighbor of Carrillo and her children, told the San Bernardino Sun that she interacted with the three children and their grandmother during afternoon walks around the neighborhood.
One of the children, a girl, was drawn to her Chihuahua, Rosie, Cuevas told the newspaper.
“Those babies were such sweet little ones,” she said. “It hurts.”
Cuevas said she thought the girl was the middle child of the three.
“She wasn’t shy. She was sweet.” Cuevas said. “An angel shouldn’t have to go that way.”
Contributing: The Associated Press