Mom Liliana Carrillo says she drowned her three kids 'as softly as she could' while hugging them and saying sorry

A CALIFORNIA mom suspected of murdering her three kids before going on a carjacking spree has confessed to drowning them "as softly as she could".

In a jailhouse interview, Liliana Carrillo, 30, said she wanted to protect her son and two daughters from their "abusive" dad.

Carrillo's kids – Joanna Denton Carrillo, 3, Terry, 2, and 6-month-old Sierra – were found dead on Saturday by their grandma in her apartment in Reseda, Los Angeles.

"I drowned them. I did it as softly, I don’t know how to explain it. I didn't want them to be further abused," Carrillo, who was interviewed at the Lerdo Pre-Trial Facility in Kern County, told KGET-TV.

"I promised them when they were born that I was going to protect them.

"I hugged them and I kissed them and I was apologizing the whole time," she said. "I loved my kids."

"I wish my kids were alive, yes. 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 for the rest of their lives."

Carrillo said she expects to spend the rest of her life in prison.

Asked what her final message to her children, she replied: "I love you, and I'm sorry."

Carrillo, who wore a brown Kern County Jail jumpsuit, had her arms shackled to her waist, and there was a cast or bandage on her left arm.

She weeped several times during the nearly half-hour interview.

Carrilllo was arrested in Tulare County – 200 miles north of the scene – just hours after the young children were found dead.

In the interview, Carrillo said she had driven north intending to drive off a cliff and kill herself, but the car became stuck in a ditch and she instead took the vehicle of some people who had stopped to help her.

But she pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in a Kern County courtroom to four felony counts of carjacking, attempted carjacking and auto theft.

Carrillo hasn't been charged with the deaths of her children.

Cops haven't revealed a motive for the gruesome killings, but court filings showed there was a bitter custody dispute between Carrillo and the children's father – Erik Denton.

The children had been staying with Carrillo, but Denton petitioned a court for custody March 1 amid claims he was "fearful for their safety".

Denton claimed Carrillo was delusional and had taken the kids and refused to tell him where they were.

Carrillo, in turn, filed a restraining order against him and claimed Denton was an alcoholic who may have sexually abused their eldest child.

Denton's court filings tell of Carrillo's post-partum depression following the birth of their middle child.

She began therapy but quit, and self-medicated with marijuana, he claimed.

In texts and social media posts, she said things like 'I wish I never had kids' and threatened to kill herself, Denton said.

Carrillo also believed she was solely responsible for the coronavirus pandemic, Denton wrote.

And she thought Porterville – where the family had lived until the end of February – was home to a giant sex trafficking ring.

In her interview, Carrillo admitted she had dealt with depression, anxiety and PTSD her whole life and had sought out a therapist for post-partum depression – but claimed it was her husband who posed a threat to the kids.

Carrillo alleged that her daughter and a son had shown signs of abuse and she had tried to get help through social workers and law enforcement.

"They were just going to hand them off to the dad," she said.

Through the courts, Denton and Carrillo agreed to let Denton see the children a few hours every other Sunday.

Last Sunday was supposed to be just his second visit with the kids under the new agreement.

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