Santa Barbara

Jury Indicts Surf School Owner Accused of Shooting His Children With Spear Fishing Gun

The bodies of the suspect's 2-year-old boy and 10-month-old girl were found in a ditch about 35 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Fiscalía General Del Estadio de Baja California

Warning: This article contains graphic content.

A Santa Barbara surf school owner was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday for taking his two young children, ages 2 and 10 months, to Mexico and killing them.

Matthew Taylor Coleman. 40, of Santa Barbara, allegedly killed his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter on Aug. 9. The indictment filed Wednesday charges him with two counts of foreign first-degree murder of United States nationals. 

The charges make him eligible for the death penalty, if convicted. 

“There are no words to describe the profound grief that envelops an entire community when a child is murdered,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “The Department of Justice is determined to achieve justice for these victims and their loved ones.”

A Santa Barbara surf school owner is accused of shooting his two young children with a spear fishing gun. Angie Crouch reports for the NBC4 News at 4 p.m. on Wednesday Aug. 11, 2021.

Coleman told authorities in an interview after his arrest that he “believed his children were going to grow into monsters so he had to kill them,” according to a criminal complaint filed by federal authorities. 

He also admitted to shooting them with a spear fishing gun, according to the nine-page criminal complaint. The complaint went on to say Coleman stated that 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 on to his children and was trying "to save the world from monsters."

“The murder of a child is difficult to understand under any circumstances,” said Kristi K. Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

An affidavit in support of the criminal complaint states that Coleman’s wife on Saturday contacted Santa Barbara police to say her husband left their home in a Sprinter cargo van. She filed a missing persons report the next day and, using a computer application, determined Coleman’s phone was in Rosarito Sunday afternoon, according to the affidavit. 

Security camera video showed Coleman checking into a Rosarito motel Saturday with the two children, according to the Baja California Attorney's General Office.

The FBI dispatched agents to the U.S.-Mexico border, who found Coleman had entered the U.S. in the Sprinter van without the children, according to authorities. They were later informed by law enforcement officials in Rosartio that the children’s bodies had been found Monday morning about 35 miles south of the border.

Coleman had been charged with the same crimes in a federal complaint filed in Los Angeles. Prosecutors plan to dismiss that complaint.

The suspect is scheduled for initial court appearance on the indictment Thursday.

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