A California surf instructor confessed to killing his two children with a spearfishing gun after kidnapping them, telling investigators that his belief in the conspiracy theories known as QAnon prompted him to do so, authorities said on Wednesday. .
The father, Matthew Taylor Coleman, of Santa Barbara, drove his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter to Mexico over the weekend and shot them dead Monday, according to an FBI investigator.
In a nine-page criminal affidavit filed Wednesday in U.S. court in Los Angeles, the FBI’s special agent wrote that Mr. Coleman had told authorities he knew what he was doing was wrong, but that it was the only course of action was that would save the world.
“M. Coleman stated that he believed his children would grow into monsters, so he had to kill them,” wrote the special agent, Jennifer Bannon. Coleman explained that he was enlightened by conspiracy theories from QAnon and Illuminati and received visions and signs revealing that his wife, AC, possessed snake DNA and passed it on to his children.”
Coleman described himself as a supporter of QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy movement whose followers falsely claim a cabal of Democrats and coastal elites engage in pedophilia and Satan worship. The conspiracy movement has been the subject of warnings by the FBI that its followers may resort to violence.
Coleman, 40, was charged Wednesday with the foreign murder of US citizens and remains in federal custody, authorities said.
A federal public defender that Mr. Coleman represented at a detention hearing on Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, where he was ordered to be held without bail, but did not immediately respond to a request for comment. mr. Coleman is scheduled for arraignment on August 31.
Mr. Coleman is the founder of Lovewater, a surf school in Santa Barbara that offers private and group lessons in addition to surf therapy. A biography on the company’s website described him as a champion surfer and youth mentor who enjoys spearfishing and sailing. The website features photos of Mr Coleman with his wife and two children.
Investigators said Mr Coleman’s wife first contacted the Santa Barbara Police Department on Saturday, the same day Mr Coleman drove off with the couple’s children in their Mercedes Sprinter van and did not say where he was going. . The family was due to go camping and Mr Coleman did not respond to his wife’s text messages, authorities said.
Using the “find my phone” feature on her laptop, Mr Coleman’s wife learned Sunday that he was in Rosarito, Mexico, a beach town about 15 miles south of the border city of Tijuana, according to the criminal affidavit.
On Monday, it emerged that Coleman was still in Mexico, near the San Ysidro Port of Entry, where another FBI agent was interviewing him as he attempted to return to the United States, authorities said. There was no trace of his children, according to investigators, who said they found blood on the vehicle’s registration papers.
The bodies of the two children of Mr. Coleman — identified in court records only by their initials: the girl was RC and the boy was KC — were found in a ditch by Mexican authorities, and they had large stab wounds to their chest cavity, the FBI said. In the affidavit, investigators wrote that Mr. Coleman had told them he’d thrown the spearfishing gun in a creek and his bloodied clothes in a trash can on the side of a road in Tijuana.
Researchers said that Mr. Coleman told them that his son was still alive after shooting him with the spearfishing pistol and that he continued to move the spear. He told an FBI agent he shot the spearfishing rifle into his daughter’s heart, authorities said.