Investigators are working to establish a motive after the bodies of the children, ages 3, 2 and 6 months, were discovered by their grandmother when she returned home from work Saturday morning to their apartment in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The mother of the children, 30-year-old Liliana Carrillo, was arrested hours later in Tulare County, about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, after igniting a massive manhunt.
She drove from the scene of the slayings in her car but ended up getting in an altercation that caused her to abandon that car and carjack another vehicle, LAPD Lt. Raul Jovel said.
The father of the children, Erick Denton, “is devastated,” according to his cousin, Teri Miller, who spoke with Fox 11 Los Angeles on Sunday.
Denton had been battling Carrillo, his ex-girlfriend, for custody of the boy and two girls for months and repeatedly reached out to the Department of Children and Family Services and police because he knew Carrillo “needed help,” Miller said.
“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 told Fox 11 LA.
Denton’s relatives told the outlet that he received an emergency order in March granting him custody of the children but claimed he did not get any further help. Neighbors reportedly said the children were mostly seen with their grandmother, whom they believed to be their primary guardian.
“He’s also frustrated with the system, because the system failed them,” Miller said. “The system failed these kids.”
A GoFundMe page shared by local outlets has been set up to help support the family.
Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.