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Santa Barbara man allegedly told investigators he killed his children because they were “growing into monsters”

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A Santa Barbara man who was arrested Tuesday has been charged in federal court for the deaths of his two young children.

Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, is accused of killing his 2-year-old son and his 10-month-old daughter in Rosarito, south of Tijuana, Mexico early Monday morning.

The bodies of Coleman's two young children were found by an employee at a Mexican ranch. The two children were killed after being stabbed more than a dozen times each. A federal criminal complaint states a spear fishing gun was the murder weapon.

In Santa Barbara, Coleman's wife first reported her husband and two children missing on Saturday. She told Santa Barbara police that he left the couple's home in a Mercedes Sprinter van and his wife did not know where they went. She told police she did not believe her children were in danger or that Coleman would harm them.

An officer attempted to contact Coleman by phone on Saturday, but he did not answer.

The following day, Coleman's wife filed a missing persons report. She also used the "Find my iPhone" app to track her husband's cell phone to Rosarito, Mexico near Mexico's Baja California coast.

The same application later tracked Coleman to the San Ysidro Port of Entry at the U.S.-Mexico border where he was attempting to reenter the country. Law enforcement intercepted Coleman and discovered that his children were not with him. FBI agents contacted law enforcement in Mexico and learned that the bodies of two young children matching their descriptions were found.

Coleman was arrested and taken into FBI custody.

On Wednesday, Coleman was formally charged with "foreign murder of United States nationals."

Security footage from a Mexican hotel appears to show Matthew Taylor Coleman along with his children hours before they were found dead. (Univision)

According to a document filed in United States District Court, Coleman admitted to killing both children by shooting a "spear fishing gun" into their chests. He discarded the weapon and his bloody clothes off the side of the road in Tijuana and then began his return to the United States, according to the court filing.

Coleman allegedly told federal investigators that he believed his children were "growing into monsters" and he needed to kill them. He told investigators he was "enlightened" by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories and he was receiving visions and signs. He told investigators he believed his wife was possessed with "serpent DNA" which she had passed onto their children.

He said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but told investigators he was saving the world, according to the court documents.

The FBI, United States Customs and Border Protection, the Santa Barbara Police Department, and the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública Municipal de Rosarito are investigating the case.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office both said he has no previous record.

Coleman was identified by Mexican officials as the owner of a Santa Barbara surfing school. A man with the same name is listed as a co-owner of Santa Barbara’s Lovewater Surf business along with his wife. The school teaches children and other beginners how to surf. Pictures on the business' website show two children matching the descriptions used by law enforcement.

Coleman appeared in federal court by video Wednesday afternoon. He is due back in court for arraignment on Tuesday, Aug. 31. He remains in custody without bail.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said there is a chance the trial could move to Mexico, but it will remain in Los Angeles for the time being.

Several members of the surfing community say they knew Coleman. He was known to have his classes along the Rincon, at Santa Claus beach, Leadbetter Beach and Campus Point at UC Santa Barbara.

No one wanted to do an on camera interview about Coleman or the crimes he faces at this time.

One person said Coleman was usually positive in person, and forward about his religion.


The complete court filing can be found below.

Warning: the content of the document includes graphic depictions of violence. It should be viewed with caution.

To read the complete complaint, click here.

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Travis Schlepp

Travis Schlepp is the Digital Content Director for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Travis, click here.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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