Residents in a West Hills neighborhood were alarmed Saturday night when they saw a woman lighting candles and holding a Bible in a stranger's yard.
Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to the "disturbing the peace" call and found Angela Flores, 38, and determined she needed medical treatment. Paramedics arrived, and authorities said she was so agitated that she had to be strapped to a stretcher.
It turned out Flores lived next door to where she was found. But no one from either the LAPD or the Los Angeles Fire Department checked on the well-being of her children that night. Officers did not canvass the area and it would be seven more hours before police found three of Flores' children dead in their home.
The morning after Flores was taken away — Mother's Day — a teenage boy knocked on a neighbor's door and said his siblings were hurt, according to Primo Canales, who lives a few houses away from Flores. The neighbor went to a home on Victory Boulevard where the boy said he lived, Canales said, found the bodies of three children and called Los Angeles police.
So police arrived again to the block seven hours later and made a grim discovery: All three children — two boys and a girl — were dead.
The series of events has raised questions about how authorities handled the case and why it took so long for them to find the children.
It remains to be seen whether the children were already dead when authorities found Flores in her neighbor's yard. Asked whether there was a possibility the children were clinging to life when officers arrived Saturday night, LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton said he did not know and noted the medical examiner would determine what happened.
But a seal has been placed on the coroner's findings by LAPD detectives, so details of the children's deaths beyond their names and ages are not available. It has not been revealed how — or when — they died.
Asked to explain why officers did not determine where Flores lived when they first encountered her, LAPD Capt. Gisselle Espinoza replied: "Timelines and specifics are still under investigation and not authorized for release by investigations at this time."
Flores is now facing murder charges in the deaths of Natalie Flores, 12; Kevin Yanez, 10; and Nathan Yanez, 8. 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, said law enforcement sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
She admitted killing the children with the help of a 16-year-old boy, police said. Law enforcement sources say the teen is Flores’ son and he helped restrain one of the children who fought Flores during the attack. He, too, now faces a murder charge.
Prisila Canales, who lives with her father a few houses away from Flores' home, said she heard a woman screaming, “My family is abusing me!” about 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
After police and paramedics were called, Canales said the woman tried to get herself free as she was being taken away on a stretcher and shouted, “Where’s my Bible?”
It is unclear whether Flores identified herself or had anything with her that indicated where her house was. Her front door sits behind an imposing black fence, and she was found 25 yards away.
Primo Canales, who has lived in the neighborhood for nearly 30 years, said Flores moved in a few months ago. He said a neighbor did not recognize her when she was spotted in the yard.
Flores did not own the property and had been renting. Relatives say they relocated during the pandemic from Missouri.
On Wednesday, Flores appeared in Superior Court in Van Nuys after being charged with murder. She hid behind a security door and tried to dodge media cameras as a judge ordered she be held on $6-million bail. Her arraignment has been delayed until Aug. 10.
According to Hamilton with the LAPD, Flores had never previously been committed for a mental evaluation in California.
In July, her social media posts revealed she had relocated to Downey from the Kansas City area. "I am a mother of six and I'm currently undergoing breast cancer treatments. I work in the real estate field...I have 4 kids still at home," she wrote in a Facebook group called LA Mommies.
Less than a week before police found the children at the home, Flores called her ex-husband Jacob Corona in what he described as an odd phone call.
“She was telling me all this stuff about God. She didn’t sound right. I don’t really know what happened,” Corona said.
Corona and Flores have been divorced for more than a decade and did not keep in regular contact over the years. The two had a child together, but they were not in California with Flores, Corona said.
The children's relatives have since started a GoFundMe to pay for funeral expenses and transport them to Kansas City for burial.
For the record:
12:48 p.m. May 13, 2022: An earlier version of this article had a photo caption that said the house where three children were found dead was on Valley Boulevard. It is on Victory Boulevard.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.