A California mother who confessed to killing her three children in a recent jailhouse television news interview described herself as a “social justice warrior” who traveled up and down the state advocating against human trafficking.
Liliana Carrillo, 30, told KGET-TV that she drowned her children — 3-year-old Joanna Denton Carrillo, her 2-year-old brother, Terry, and 6-month-old sister, Sierra — in an effort to protect them from abuse from their father, Erik Denton, whom she accused of being part of a sex trafficking ring. She believes Denton was abusing the kids and that they were in danger of being trafficked.
He has denied the allegations.
“I’ve always been a person who basically been for helping people,” Carrillo said. “I’ve always been a social justice warrior, equal rights, human rights activist,”
She said Denton moved her and the children from Los Angeles to Porterville, a small city in central California where the family lived until the end of February, where she said human trafficking activities have occurred.
CALIFORNIA MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER 5 WEEKS AFTER WOMAN, 8-YEAR-OLD FOUND STABBED TO DEATH
“There’s something going on in Porterville that needs to be investigated,” she said. “I’m hoping to get someone who specializes in human trafficking to representing me because that’s exactly what’s going on. We were being groomed.”
The kids were reportedly stabbed to death on April 10 in a scene that left many shaken, including first responders, some of whom needed counseling afterward. During the interview, she said she drowned them.
“I drowned them,” said Carrillo, who was wearing a brown jumpsuit with her arms shackled to her waist and a bandage on her left arm.
“I did it as softly, I don’t know how to explain it, but I hugged them and I kissed them and I was apologizing the whole time,” she said. “I loved my kids.”
She admitted to being completely sober at the time of the killings, despite what she called a history of postpartum depression and marijuana use. She has not yet been charged in the Los Angeles killings.
The children were found dead Saturday by their grandmother in her Reseda apartment. Carrillo was arrested hours later nearly 200 miles north in Tulare County. She told the TV station that she tried to kill herself by driving off a cliff but her car became stuck in a ditch.
She then allegedly carjacked a vehicle from good Samaritan. She is being held in Kern County on carjacking and auto theft charges, of which she has pleaded not guilty.
In court filings, he said Carrillo was delusional and refused to tell him where his kids were. He also said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to childhood abuse.
“I am very concerned about my partner,” Denton wrote in the custody documents, “and want to get her the help she needs to recover from this mental break and to become stable. I want her interactions with the children to be safe and healthy.”
Denton’s court filings tell of Carrillo’s post-partum depression following the birth of their middle child. In texts and social media posts, she said things like “I wish I never had kids” and threatened to kill herself.
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She said she did not want her children to endure anymore abuse.
“I wish my kids were alive, yes,” she said. “Do I wish that I didn’t have to do that? Yes. But I prefer them not being tortured and abused on a regular basis for the rest of their lives.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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