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Federal agents have arrested a California surfing instructor after he allegedly took his two young children to Mexico and murdered them with a speargun last week, allegedly after becoming convinced his wife had passed them serpent DNA.
Matthew Coleman, 40, has been accused of killing his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter, according to a statement by the Department of Justice.
Coleman’s wife contacted the Santa Barbara police on Aug. 7 to report that Coleman left in a van with their children, the department said. Using an app on her phone, Coleman's wife, who the DOJ did not name, determined that he was in Rosarito, Mexico, on Aug. 7, 2021, according to the statement. The same app helped the FBI track Coleman at the U.S.-Mexico border on August 9 as he tried re-entering the country at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
At that point, authorities found Coleman in the van without his children.
Earlier that day, Baja, California prosecutor Hiram Sanchez Zamora announced that a farmworker had discovered two bodies matching the description of the child and infant, according to Los Angeles’s ABC-7 News. The girl was stabbed 12 times while the boy was stabbed 17 times.
Authorities said that a “ blood-stained wooden stake” was found at the scene, according to The San Francisco Gate.
“To be honest, I teared up,” said the man who found the children’s bodies, according to Border Report. “I was scared and sad because these are tiny children who don’t know any better.”
Coleman confessed to killing his children with a spearfishing gun, according to an FBI affidavit cited by ABC-7. They said he claimed conspiracy theories had motivated him to kill the children.
“[Coleman] explained that he was enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories and was receiving visions and signs revealing that his wife, A.C., possessed serpent DNA and had passed it onto his children,” the FBI affidavit stated. “[Coleman] said that he was saving the world from monsters.”
QAnon is a widespread mass delusion that alleges Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles sought to undermine former U.S. President Donald Trump during his time in office.
Coleman, the owner of Lovewater Surf Co. surfing school in Santa Barbara, had driven down to Rosarito with his children and checked into a City Express hotel, according to The San Francisco Gate. Video footage showed the three leaving the hotel before dawn on Aug. 9 — the same morning of Coleman’s arrest.
Coleman told FBI agents that the two-year-old “did not die right away,” according to the affidavit cited by ABC-7. He told them that “he had to move the spear around” to ensure the boy’s death.
Prior to the murders, friends and family considered Coleman to be a doting father who had loved his family.
“It just doesn’t compute,” his friend, Rachel Woodby, told People. “This is not the man I know. But it’s absolutely disgusting. It makes me sick to my stomach. I’m horrified. I thought he was a good person. He had no warning signs that he was capable of doing this.”
Another friend claimed that Coleman began to change at the beginning of the year.
“The conversations were pretty typical,” the friend, who the magazine did not name, told People. “Feedings, diapers, the basic stuff you’d expect of a guy with a newborn and a toddler. But he was so happy, so excited about his family.”
In the following months, Coleman talked more about conspiracy theories and what he’d read online.
“It was like he was starting to believe them,” the friend said. “And he spent a lot of time looking at these conspiracies. He devoted a lot of brainpower to them. It became clear to me that he believed in some weird stuff.”
Coleman remains in federal custody and is being charged with the foreign murder of U.S. nationals. He has not yet entered a plea and it is unclear if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.
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