2 children killed in Lancaster identified; father not cooperating with deputies after arrest

The girls' father, Prospero Serna, is being held on suspicion of child murder and child abuse.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2023
2 children killed in Lancaster were sisters, ages 3 and 7
The two young children who killed in what investigators called an "attack" in Lancaster have been identified as their father remains in custody.

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- The two young children killed over the weekend in what investigators called an "attack" in Lancaster have been identified as their father remains in custody.

The investigation began Saturday just before midnight when the mother of the children called 911 for help, saying her children were being harmed.

When deputies showed up, they found four children in one bedroom, all with serious injuries. The victims, all under the age of 10, were sent to a hospital that night.

Ziasia and Najila Serna were later pronounced dead, and the two other children were listed in stable condition. Ziasia was 7 years old and Najila was 3.

Prospero Serna, who lives in San Bernardino County, was initially detained as a person of interest but the sheriff's department later said enough evidence was collected to place Serna under arrest for murder and child abuse.

They added that he was not cooperating with deputies. As of Tuesday, authorities said Serna is still not cooperating, resulting in a delay in his booking process.

The night that the department responded, video from the scene showed a physical struggle to detain him, requiring the effort of several deputies to pin him to the ground and place him in custody.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies took a man into custody after responding to a report of child abuse in Lancaster on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023.
Don Luis Meza

"We don't know where exactly the attack occurred, but they were all found in one bedroom," Lt. Daniel Vizcarra with the Sheriff's Department said on Sunday.

"It's extremely difficult," he added. "This is traumatizing for everybody who's involved. All the deputies who responded, all the parties involved, the investigators, everyone."

The county Department of Children and Family Services declined to say if the family has been investigated for possible child abuse in the past, citing confidentiality laws.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.