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Mom suspected of killing her three children is charged with Kern County carjacking as she fled

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A mother suspected of killing her three young children in a San Fernando Valley apartment complex last weekend was charged Tuesday with carjacking, which she allegedly committed as she fled to Tulare County, where she was eventually captured.

With Los Angeles County prosecutors expected to file murder charges against Liliana Carrillo later this week, Kern County’s district attorney charged her with four felonies — carjacking, attempted carjacking and two counts of taking a vehicle without an owner’s consent — which she is accused of committing after she crashed her own car on Highway 65 and then tried to steal another vehicle as she led authorities on a long-distance chase.

The children’s grandmother discovered the children — Joanna, 3; Terry, 2; and Sierra, 6 months — dead and their mother gone on Saturday morning at an apartment complex in Reseda, authorities said. Two of the children showed signs of drowning, and all three had injuries that indicated they were bludgeoned. No cause of death has been publicly released. The Los Angeles Police Department has identified Carrillo, 30, as the suspect in their killings.

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Carrillo was transferred late Monday night from Tulare County to Kern County’s jail. She is being held on $2-million bail and is expected to appear in a Kern County court Wednesday on the charges.

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The charges come amid growing scrutiny over why L.A. County social workers did not remove the children from her care. L.A. County’s child welfare agency and the L.A. Police Department were alerted, on numerous occasions, that Carrillo was a danger to the young children, according to interviews by The Times with the children’s father and his family, along with court records and sources familiar with the ongoing investigation. A Tulare County judge had awarded emergency custody to the children’s father in February.

In the months before the three were slain, Carrillo was “extremely paranoid” and erratic, according to her boyfriend’s account in court papers, which described her increasingly bizarre claims: that she was “solely responsible” for the COVID-19 pandemic and that a pedophile ring beset his hometown of Porterville.

“I am afraid for my children’s physical and mental well-being,” the kids’ father, Erik Denton, told a Tulare County judge last month before he was granted custody. He said he repeated those warnings to L.A. social workers, as did his cousin, an emergency room doctor.

L.A. County’s Department of Children and Family Services, the largest child welfare agency in the nation, declined to comment Monday on the specifics of the Carrillo case, citing state confidentiality laws. In a statement, an agency spokesperson said DCFS “joins the community in mourning.”

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