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Crime News

Man Allegedly Killed Mom, Uncle In Attack That Unfolded As Victim Was On Zoom Call With Co-Worker

Robert Cotton has been charged with two counts of murder, with the victims reportedly identified as his mother, Carol Brown, and uncle, Kenneth Preston.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Dr Carol Brown Handout

Two adult siblings were killed during a Zoom work call this week, and the woman’s son has since been arrested in connection to the double murder.

Deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department responded to a home in Altadena on Monday afternoon to investigate a report of a possible kidnapping in progress, but instead arrived to find a murder scene, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release. In the driveway, deputies found a dead Black male who’d sustained stab wounds; inside the home was the second deceased victim, a Black woman. Authorities later learned that the female victim had been on a Zoom call with a co-worker, who saw what was happening and promptly called 911.

Dr Carol Brown Handout

Reports vary on whether the colleague in the Zoom call witnessed the actual attacks; while KTLA reports that they witnessed both attacks, the Pasadena-Star News says that the caller, an employee at Pasadena City College, did not.

Authorities have stated that the co-worker on the call saw a man getting dragged out of the house, KTLA reports.

“The person that the lady was still talking to on the Zoom with when the male was dragged out of the house … alerted her and the suspect went inside and attacked her,” Lt. Barry Hall of the Sheriff’s Department told KTLA.

The female victim also sustained fatal stab wounds, according to the outlet.

During the course of their investigation, the suspect, later identified as 32-year-old Robert Cotton, returned to the home driving a vehicle that authorities had noted earlier was missing from the house, the sheriff’s department said in their release. Officers arrested Cotton, who also lived in the home, and he has since been charged with two counts of murder. His bail has been set at $2 million, and he's scheduled to next appear in court on Thursday.

While authorities initially did not name the victims, they have since been identified as 67-year-old Carol Brown and 69-year-old Kenneth Preston, according to the Pasadena-Star News. Brown was Cotton’s mother, and Preston was his uncle and Brown’s brother, according to the outlet. 

In a statement shared on their Facebook page, Pasadena City College shared their condolences for Brown and Preston’s loved ones.

“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating this violent crime, and they have a suspect in custody. More details may be made available as appropriate. In the meantime, please know that the college is doing everything it can to assist law enforcement, respond to Carol’s family and loved ones, and mourn this terrible loss,” PCC President-Superintendent Erika Endrijonas said.

Brown worked as a co-coordinator for the school’s Black STEM program, college officials said. She also held a number of other roles with the college that focused on giving back and helping students in need during her more than decade-long career at PCC, the Pasadena-Star News reports.

A motive for the killing has not been released. The sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Oxygen.com.