Mother Suffering From Postpartum Depression Charged With The Murders Of Her Three Children

Photo: ABC 7
Liliana Carrillo

On April 10, the bodies of Joanna, 3, Terry, 2, and six-month-old Sierra Denton were found dead by their maternal grandmother who was visiting them in their Reseda home.

Two days later, their mother, Liliana Carrillo, 30, was found and arrested, and, on April 19, confessed to their murders. She was charged with three counts of murder.

Two children showed signs of drowning, and all showed head injuries consistent with bludgeoning.

The crime itself is horrific, but her reasons for doing so are genuinely terrifying.

Why did Liliana Carrillo kill her three children?

She claims that she killed them to protect them from her ex-boyfriend, Erik Denton.

She believed that her ex-boyfriend was involved with a pedophile ring in Porterville and that she herself was solely responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.

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After the birth of her second child in 2019, Carrillo started showing signs of postpartum depression.

In 2020, after the birth of her third child, the symptoms became more severe. She saw a therapist but refused psychiatric treatment and instead self-medicated. According to Denton, she was having suicidal thoughts and began regretting having children.

Carrillo’s Facebook post echoed some of QAnon’s rhetoric, who for the past few years have used the #savethechildren hashtag to spread false information. She believes that Denton’s town of Porterville was home to a sex trafficking ring. She said that Denton was an alcoholic who sexually abused their oldest child.

The Tulare County child welfare agency received warnings about Carrillo and her family at least as far back as February when she first accused Denton of allowing someone in his alleged pedophile ring to molest one of their daughters. No arrests were made.

Denton believed they were in danger, claiming Carrillo was delusional. Denton’s cousin, emergency room physician Dr. Terri Miller told KTTV, "Liliana was very sick, and this is not – she was not herself, and it’s been going on for several months that she has been unwell.” Miller and Denton went to both the LAPD and the LA County Department of Child and Family Services to warn the agencies of Carrillo's psychosis. On March 1, he was awarded physical custody of the kids.

Denton reached out to social services many times but they still allowed the children to remain in her custody. On March 4, he asked for emergency visitation so Carrillo could be evaluated. Carrillo responded by filing a temporary domestic violence restraining order against Denton. The same day, a social worker tried to visit Carrillo, leaving a note that they needed to discuss the reports of child abuse.

On March 12, Carrillo was supposed to hand the children over to Denton but never did. Denton and Miller called LAPD and pleaded with them to do something, telling police Carrillo was a danger to the children and herself.

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On April 10, she sent a 100-page document of handwritten, typed notes, and images to a judge and several media outlets alleging that Porterville was “the root of all evil.” This document has been described as “meandering” and “incoherent.”

“I am removing myself and my children from this world because nothing will ever be the same. There is no going back from here,” she wrote.

Denton believes the system failed his family.

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Miller said, “Twelve years of medical training doesn’t mean anything to these social workers and cops. They ignored my warnings about the danger Liliana posed to the children. I don’t understand what was wrong with my message. I told them I was scared for the kids’ safety based on her mental condition and behavior.”

Carrillo believes what she did was right. In her interview at Kern County Jail, she wished her children could still be alive but remained insistent in her belief that what she did ultimately protected them from future abuse.

“I drowned them. I did it as softly, I don’t know how to explain it,” Liliana Carrillo said in her interview “I hugged them. I kissed them. I was apologizing the whole time. I loved my kids. I didn’t want them to be further abused. I wish this didn’t have to be the case, but I promised to protect them.”

LAPD Internal Affairs is investigating how this case was mishandled. They were aware the children were not in a safe environment but still, authorities and social services did little to prevent this. For two years Carrillo was struggling with postpartum depression that increasingly became worse mixed with alleged false news she was seeing on social media. Denton, now considering legal action, is angry with social services and LAPD for not acting fast enough.

Perhaps if they did, this tragedy could have been avoided.

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Leeann Reed is a writer who covers news, pop culture, and love, and relationship topics.