Mother says she killed 3 children with help from 16-year-old
Angela Flores was found clutching a Bible at her West Hills home on Mother’s Day when police discovered her three dead children inside the ranch-style house.
Flores would admit to killing her children with help from an unidentified 16-year-old, the Los Angeles Police Department said Monday. That teen, police sources said, is the mother’s son. Both were arrested on suspicion of murder in the children’s deaths.
Police received a 911 call about 7:40 a.m. Sunday and rushed to the 22500 block of Victory Boulevard, a residential area in the San Fernando Valley, for reports of an assault with a deadly weapon. Officers found three children — a 12-year-old girl and two 8-year-old boys — who were unresponsive, authorities said.
Paramedics were called to the home, and all three children were pronounced dead.
Flores is being held in lieu of $6-million bail, LAPD Officer Lizeth Lomeli said Monday. The 16-year-old is being held at Sylmar Juvenile Hall without bail.
“No other suspects are being sought at the moment,” LAPD public information officer Matthew Cruz said.
Jacob Corona, Flores’ ex-husband, said she called him Tuesday night, nearly a week before the children were killed, and made several odd comments.
“She was telling me all this stuff about God. She didn’t sound right. I don’t really know what happened,” Corona said.
Corona said they married in 2001 and divorced in 2007. The two had not spoken regularly since their divorce, Corona said. They have a child together, but that child is not among the dead and did not live with Flores.
“So when she called me, I had my doubts. She was not really religious before. But then she was talking about death. I told her, ‘What’s going on?’ My head was going over so many things, but I didn’t think anything of it,” Corona said.
“I didn’t know her situation,” Corona said.
Three children are found dead Sunday in a Woodland Hills home when police responded to reports of an assault with a deadly weapon.
In a statement, the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services said officials were “deeply saddened by the deaths of the three children in the San Fernando Valley.” The agency said it was unable to comment on whether it had previously been involved with the family.
The abused child unit within the LAPD’s Juvenile Division is investigating the specific cause and manner in which the children died.
L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said Monday that the case had not yet been presented to his office.
“The deaths of these three children are truly horrific and tragic. As a parent and a grandparent, I send my heartfelt condolences to the people who love them,” Gascón said.
LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton called the 16-year-old’s alleged role in the killings “very rare.”
Dr. Phillip J. Resnick, a forensic psychologist at Case Western Reserve University who has examined some 80 mothers who killed their children, said that although there are some cases of a mother and a father together committing filicide — the deliberate act of a parent killing his or her child — “a child’s involvement is another phenomenon.”
Resnick said parental figures have extraordinary influence over their children, which could turn dangerous if the parent’s mental state deteriorates.
“A mother may develop psychosis and a son may buy into it,” he said. “Folie à deux … is a shared delusional disorder.”
A law enforcement source said the 16-year-old doesn’t share the mother’s delusion.
Dan Scott, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigator who worked on child murders and abuse, also called Sunday’s killings “a very rare case.”
“It is almost unknown for a child to be arrested in these circumstances,” Scott said.
Scott said he has heard of killings of children by a mother or parental figure in which another child is essentially forced into participation by the parental figure. “In cases I investigated, it became clear the child did it out of self-preservation,” Scott said.
He said the juvenile’s arrest for murder may mean the child helped in some way but does not mean he committed the actual deadly act.
Authorities were seen Sunday afternoon going in and out of the one-story ranch-style house, which was cordoned off with police tape. Cars on Victory Boulevard slowed to look.
Prisila Canales, who lives two houses from the scene, said she heard the mother screaming about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, “My family is abusing me!”
Canales said she then saw the woman, who moved into the house two or three months ago, walk into the next-door neighbor’s yard, open a Bible and light candles.
Authorities were notified about the behavior, and paramedics arrived about midnight and put her on a stretcher. Canales said the woman tried to wrangle herself free and yelled, “Where’s my Bible?”
“The screaming you heard, you knew she was not OK,” Canales said. “I can still hear her screaming.”
John, 34, who lives a block from the scene and declined to give his last name, said he heard muffled cries from a child Saturday night. “I thought I was just dreaming,” he said.
“I thought [the area] was supposed to be safe,” he added. “Nothing is safe nowadays.”
Stephen Hayes, a 71-year-old neighbor, stared at the house Sunday afternoon. He had been doing so on and off since about 9 a.m., he said.
Hayes said he had seen the family ride bikes. “They look like nice, normal people,” he said. “It is one of the nicest-looking houses on the block.”
Times staff writers Laura Newberry, Jeong Park and Rosanna Xia contributed to this report.
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