A woman suspected of killing her three children in Los Angeles said she did it to protect them from abuse.
On Thursday Liliana Carrillo, 30, granted a jailhouse interview to NBC affiliate KGET in Bakersfield, California, where she is being held after she was arrested on suspicion of carjacking the day her children’s bodies were discovered by their grandmother.
The children, Joanna, 3; Terry, 2; and Sierra, 6 months, were found the morning of April 10 in an apartment in the Reseda section of Los Angeles. Carrillo fled and was captured later that day after carjacking a motorist in Kern County, authorities said.
Asked what happened to the children, she told KGET, “I drowned them.”
“I wasn’t about to hand my children off to be further abused,” she said.
Police initially said the children were stabbed, and the Los Angeles County coroner has not said whether drowning was involved.
Carrillo pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the carjacking, attempting carjacking and taking a vehicle with the owner’s consent, said her public defender, Lexi Blythe, by email.
Carrillo is being held on $2 million bail, along with an additional bail restriction, according to Kern County Sheriff’s Office records.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has not charged her in the deaths of her children, and a spokesman did not immediately respond Saturday to a request for information.
Carrillo’s claim that her children were being abused counters their father’s narrative outlined in custody records filed by Erik Denton on March 1 in Tulare County.
The request for custody claimed Carrillo was delusional and refused to tell him where she was keeping the children.
Denton tried to get the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services and the LAPD to intervene because he believed Carrillo suffered from psychosis and was keeping the children away from him somewhere in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Denton asked police to take her in for a psychiatric evaluation, the Times reported, and the LAPD has launched an internal investigation into how it handled Denton’s request for help.
Children and family services tried to contact Carrillo, the Times reported, citing records that a social worker tried to visit her but no one answered the door.
Denton had been scheduled to visit the children the day after they were found dead, court records show.
“I didn’t want them to be further abused,” Carrillo told KGET.
She said she killed the three “softly.”
“I hugged them and I kissed them,” she said. “And I was apologizing the whole time. I promised I would protect them.”
The Associated Press contributed.