Liliana Carrillo, 30, made the revelation during a sitdown with KGET-TV inside a Kern County jail where she is being held for an alleged carjacking committed while fleeing authorities after the children were discovered dead on April 10.
“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.”
The kids were reportedly stabbed to death in a scene that left many shaken, including first responders, some of whom needed counseling afterward.
Carrillo said she wanted to protect the children — 3-year-old Joanna Denton Carrillo, her 2-year-old brother, Terry, and 6-month-old sister, Sierra — from their father, whom she accused of sex abuse and human trafficking. The couple had been involved in a bitter child custody battle at the time of the slayings.
She admitted to being completely sober at the time of the killings, despite what she called a history of postpartum depression and marijuana use. When asked why she killed the children, Carrillo said she didn’t want them to be further abused. 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.
She previously accused the childrens’ father, Erik Denton, of part of a sex trafficking ring that she claimed runs rampant in Porterville, a small city in central California where the family lived until the end of February. He has denied the allegations.
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.
In the interview, Carrillo described herself as a “social justice warrior” who traveled up and down California advocating against human trafficking.
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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