Authorities discovered the bodies of three children at a San Fernando Valley home seven hours after paramedics were there to hospitalize their mother because she was acting strangely, police revealed Tuesday. The residence was on the border of West Hills and Woodland Hills.
Angela Flores, 38, claimed to believe the children were possessed by demons and repeatedly jumped on them because she thought she could drive the demons out, law enforcement sources said.
On Tuesday, Flores was charged with the murder of a 12-year-old girl, a 10-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy, who were found Sunday inside a house in the 22500 block of Victory Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.
Flores admitted that she killed the children with the help of a 16-year-old boy, who also was arrested on suspicion of murder, police said. Law enforcement sources have identified the teen as Flores’ son. Authorities have not said when he was detained. As of Tuesday, he remained in juvenile hall; prosecutors did not announce charges against him.
“We all grieve for these children. The loss of their young lives is a tragedy that has affected our entire community,” L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said in a statement announcing the charges against Flores. “My prosecutors are working to hold accountable those responsible for their deaths.”
Flores will appear Wednesday morning in a downtown court.
The Los Angeles Police Department is continuing to investigate the killings.
Neighbors said they saw Flores holding a Bible and lighting candles in a yard near the home and called authorities about the strange behavior late Saturday night.
LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton said Flores was taken to a hospital about midnight. The bodies of the three children were not found inside the home until the next morning, seven hours later, Hamilton said Tuesday.
Margaret Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department, said the agency responded at 12:48 a.m. Sunday to a “medical response” request from the LAPD and took a woman in her 30s from the Victory Boulevard block to a hospital.
LAPD officers responded to the ranch-style house shortly after 7:40 a.m. Sunday after a 911 call reported an assault with a deadly weapon at the location, according to a department statement. Officers found the children unresponsive in the house.
How and when the children died has not yet been determined by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
Coroner’s officials identified the children as Natalie Flores, 12; Kevin Yanez, 10; and Nathan Yanez, 8.
Flores is being held in lieu of bail of $6 million.
Prisila Canales, who lives two houses away, said she heard a woman about 10:30 p.m. Saturday screaming, “My family is abusing me!”
Canales said she saw the woman, who was later identified as Flores, walk to the next-door neighbor’s yard, open a Bible and light candles.
Canales said when paramedics arrived about midnight and put the woman, who had moved into the house two or three months earlier, on a stretcher, she tried to wrangle herself free and yelled, “Where’s my Bible?”
“The screaming you heard — you knew she was not OK,” Canales said Sunday. “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.
Jacob Corona, Flores’ ex-husband, said she called him nearly a week before the children were killed and made 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 the two married in 2001 and divorced in 2007. They had not spoken regularly since their divorce, he said. They have a child together who is not among the dead and did not live with Flores.
“So when she called me, I had my doubts,” Corona said. “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.
“I didn’t know her situation,” he added.
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 of the LAPD’s Juvenile Division is investigating the deaths.
Hamilton described the role of another child in the killings as “very rare.”
Dr. Phillip J. Resnick, a forensic psychologist at Case Western Reserve University who has examined around 80 women who have killed their children, said that although there are cases of parents together committing filicide — the deliberate act of killing one’s son or daughter — “a child’s involvement is another phenomenon.”
Resnick said parental figures have extraordinary influence over their children, a situation that could turn dangerous if the parent’s mental state deteriorates.
“A mother may develop psychosis,” he said, “and a son may buy into it.”