Erik Denton (left) holds his youngest daughter, Sierra, while his daughter Joanna chases bubbles and son Terry watches. Denton’s three children were killed in April. (Contributed photo)

Erik Denton (left) holds his youngest daughter, Sierra, while his daughter Joanna chases bubbles and son Terry watches. Denton’s three children were killed in April. (Contributed photo)

Toy drive will honor Marysville man’s 3 slain children

Erik Denton and his family will collect toys Saturday in honor of the kids: Joanna, Terry and Sierra.

MARYSVILLE — A family with deep roots in the community is hosting a toy drive Saturday, hoping to begin healing from a tragedy.

“We haven’t even really started grieving yet,” said Teri Miller, an emergency room physician and Erik Denton’s cousin. “I know Erik hasn’t even really begun the grieving process.”

In April, Denton’s three children were slain in Southern California, following a custody dispute involving Denton and their mother Liliana Carrillo. Carrillo was charged with murder. According to reporting by the Los Angeles Times, Denton obtained an emergency court order for the children’s custody in March and asked for a mental health evaluation of Carrillo.

The family believes the system failed them.

The toy drive is a means of healing for Denton, who is known in his family for having a kind heart and taking care of others.

“People started asking us, ‘Are you going to have a vigil, are you going to have a memorial service?’ The first thing Erik said was that he wanted to have a toy drive,” Miller said. “As opposed to having a funeral service with flowers, (he wanted) something that would actually mean something for other kids.”

It has also allowed the family to come together for a common cause, Erik’s mother Tracy Jellison said. Jellison’s nieces and nephews, as well as close family friends, have all volunteered to help.

Denton has always been the guy that’s there for others — now his family is hopeful that the community will be there for him.

The family will be accepting new toys with tags for kids ages birth to 5, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Grove Church, 4705 Grove St. in Marysville. All donations go to the Marysville Food Bank Toy Store. Donations can also be made online at marysvillefoodbank.org with a note for “Erik’s Toy Drive.”

Denton, a Marysville native, was a father above all else.

“When he had kids, I mean, it settled him,” Miller said. “It changed who he was and it became who he was — he finally found himself.”

Denton spent much of his own childhood with his grandparents, the Hubbards, in their white castle-like house in Marysville.

He was a bit of a “wild child,” Miller said. As an adult, being able to pass on skills he learned from his grandpa Terry Hubbard, like fishing and pitching a tent, gave him new purpose.

Jellison said they’ve always been an outdoorsy family.

Erik’s son Terry, 2, loved insects.

“He would get fixated,” Miller said. “And so Erik would get down on the ground and show him where the anthill was. And then Terry would just crouch there and just watch the ants crawling along — he was just fascinated by them.”

His daughter Joanna, 3, was full of energy, like Erik in his younger years.

All three kids — Joanna, Terry and Sierra, who was 6 months old — were captivated by birds that visited the feeders their dad placed in their yard. They were just beginning to learn sign language and signed “bird” whenever they flew in, Miller said.

Since the tragedy, Erik has been working to find his footing while spending time outside, surrounded by family. He has been on camping trips. He bought a pink kayak. He has gone fishing and crabbing. But ultimately, his healing will be wrapped into helping others and giving to kids in need.

The toy drive is the first step, Jellison said.

“It’ll be good for Erik,” she said, “to see how many people believe in supporting kids.”

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; isabella.breda@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

Talk to us

More in Local News

An emergency responder uses a line to navigate the steep slope along a Forest Service road where seven people were injured Saturday when a vehicle went off the road near the Boulder River trailhead west of Darrington. (Darrington Fire District)
7 hurt in crash off cliff west of Darrington; 1 airlfited

A vehicle crashed on a forest service road near Boulder River, leading to a major rescue operation.

The aftermath of a fire that damaged a unit at the Villas at Lakewood apartment complex in Marysville on Saturday. (Marysville Fire District)
2 families displaced by Marysville apartment fire

Nobody was injured when the fire broke out Saturday morning on 27th Avenue NE.

Mukilteo asks for input on housing density, and it’s complicated

Here’s a guide to what voters should know about the advisory ballot measure. What does it actually do?

Kevin Gallagher (from the Snohomish County Official Local Voters’ Pamphlet November 2, 2021 General Election)
Kevin Gallagher, a Marysville City Council candidate, dies

Kevin Gallagher, 52, died at home of natural causes. He was challenging incumbent Councilmember Tom King.

Clouds hover over the waters off Everett's western edge Monday morning. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Get ready for La Niña and a soggy winter in Snohomish County

After a hot, dry summer, Washington feels like Washington again. Damp. Gray. Normal.

Top (L-R): Louis Harris, Peter Zieve, Kevin Stoltz. Bottom (L-R): Tom Jordal, Steve Schmalz, Alex Crocco.
Race for Mukilteo City Council is a mix of old and new names

Housing, waterfront and public safety top the list of concerns for candidates.

A $10,000 taxidermied grizzly bear for sale at the new Everett Consignment on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Oh my! An Instagram wonderland of loveseats, rhinos and bears

Everett Consignment in the former Bramble building has 60,000 square feet of new and vintage items.

Downtown Coupeville on Whidbey Island, March 2021. (Harry Anderson)
Whidbey Island real estate prices continue to climb

Despite a slight lull in August and September, it continues to be a seller’s market on Whidbey.

Gold Bar man airlifted after trying to start fire with gas

The man suffered severe burns after he used gasoline to start a fire in his yard.

Most Read