The founder of a popular Santa Barbara surf school was charged in federal court on Wednesday with murdering his two-year-old son and ten-month-old daughter by shooting them in the heart with a spear fishing gun, a horrifying crime he told investigators was inspired by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracies that made him believe “his children were going to grow into monsters.”
Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, is the owner of Lovewater Surf School in Santa Barbara, where he lived with his wife Abby, son Kaleo, and baby Roxy. On Saturday he left their home with the two children in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and drove to the Mexican surf town of Rosarito in Baja California, leaving his wife behind. The family had previously planned to go on a camping trip together.
Mexican authorities say surveillance video shows that Coleman checked into a Rosarito hotel on Saturday. Sometime between then and when the bodies were discovered on Monday, Coleman pulled the van to the side of the road and shot his children in the chest with a wooden spear. A ranch worker discovered the bodies of the children covered by brush in a ditch on Monday morning with “large puncture wounds in their chest cavities,” the complaint says.
“Coleman explained he was enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories, and was receiving visions and signs revealing that his wife possessed serpent DNA and had passed it onto his children,” according to a federal complaint charging Coleman with foreign murder of U.S. nationals. “Coleman said he was saving the world from monsters.”
The day of their disappearance, Abby Coleman had been calling and texting her husband and had called the Santa Barbara Police Department, according to the complaint. Abby told a police officer she didn’t think her husband would harm the children, but she was worried because the van was not equipped with a car seat for their daughter, so she wanted the officer to try to call her husband. Coleman told investigators he put baby Roxy in a box for the drive.
There was no answer from Coleman. The officer offered to meet Abby in person that day, but she declined. By Sunday, however, she requested police assistance. Officer Michael Chung drove to the Coleman house and asked Abby if she had the Find My iPhone app activated. She looked on her laptop and learned his phone had last pinged at a mall in Rosarito on August 9. By then he was headed back to the San Ysidro Port of Entry after U.S. Customs & Border Protection.
He was detained after Customs Border & Protection agents noted blood on the van’s registration forms. According to the FBI, Coleman waived his Miranda rights and confessed to the crimes.
Coleman reportedly told investigators that he knew killing his children was wrong but it “was the only course of action that would save the world.”
The complaint says Coleman dumped the spear fishing gun and bloody clothes near a creek, while he stripped off his own blood-soaked clothes and threw them in a dumpster in Tijuana. Mexican authorities recovered the murder weapon, bloody clothes, and a baby’s blanket on Wednesday. Mexican officials say Roxy had been stabbed 17 times while her brother was stabbed 13 times.
Coleman remains detained without bail; meanwhile, authorities on both sides of the border are trying to bring the children home for burial, according to the FBI.
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