The owner of a Southern California surf school told investigators he stabbed his young children to death with a spearfishing gun because he believed the kids—aged 1 and 3—were “going to grow into monsters,” according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court.
Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, was detained Tuesday when he attempted to re-enter the United States one day after the bodies of his children were found at a ranch near Rosarito in Baja California. He had taken them over the border to Mexico without telling his wife where he was going.
In an interview with FBI agents, Coleman “explained that he was enlightened by the QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories and was receiving visions and signs revealing that his wife...possessed serpent DNA and had passed it onto his children,” the complaint states. “Coleman said that he was saving the world from monsters.”
Agents then asked Coleman if he knew what he did was wrong. Coleman “stated that he knew it was wrong, but it was the only course of action that would save the world,” according to the complaint.
Hiram Sanchez, Baja California’s attorney general, told reporters that the 3-year-old boy was stabbed 12 times. The 1-year-old girl was stabbed 17 times. A blood-stained wooden stake was found at the scene, said Sanchez.
When Coleman was booked into the Santa Ana County Jail on Tuesday, an officer asked Coleman why he had a band-aid on his hand. He had cut himself while “hurting his children,” Coleman allegedly answered. Coleman’s wife never suspected her children were in any danger, according to the complaint.
Coleman and his wife, Abby, run the popular Lovewater Surf School in Santa Barbara. Sanchez said that concerns about Coleman’s whereabouts were raised over the weekend when Abby Coleman reported to Santa Barbara police that her husband and their two children missing.
Mexican authorities said they have video footage showing Coleman and the children checking into a Rosarito hotel on Saturday. The footage is then said to show the three leaving in the early hours of Monday before Coleman returns alone that morning to check out.
In the time between Coleman’s appearances on the footage, a farmworker discovered the mutilated bodies of the two infants. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents were waiting for Coleman when he tried to re-enter the country at the San Ysidro checkpoint on Tuesday, and he’s now in federal custody after being arrested on suspicion of murder.
Patrick Woods, a local surfer who works at the Surf Country surf shop in Goleta, California, said he was shocked by the news.
“He surfed out at one of the local breaks near UC Santa Barbara,” Woods told The Daily Beast. “I’ve surfed with him a couple of times and I’ve never had any problems with him, he seemed pretty cool. He seemed like he had it together, seemed all there mentally—definitely not someone to, like, travel somewhere and then murder his kids. It’s a total mindbender.”
Another member of the local surf scene told The Daily Beast he trusted Coleman enough that he “would have handed him my own kids in a second, to take them surfing. I’ve never heard of one parent complain about his program. So...it just doesn’t make any sense.”
ABC7 reports that Mexican and U.S. authorities are working together to return the children’s bodies to their California home. Coleman is reportedly expected to face charges of aggravated murder in Mexico.
The FBI said in a statement: “A joint investigation is underway among the Santa Barbara Police Department, the FBI in Los Angeles, and San Diego, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Mexican authorities.”
Lovewater Surf School’s website shows several photos of the Coleman family together. Coleman’s biography states that he taught high school for several years before founding the surf school.
The surf instructor posted about his Christian faith online, wondering in a November 2020 Facebook post whether “there is a type of Great American Renaissance following the years of Covid, censorship, and political divisiveness... that will empower each person’s heart to come alive and explode with innovative ideas, new business models, new music sounds and never seen ways to build an amazing community?”
Just a month earlier, Coleman had celebrated the birth of the couple’s youngest child, Roxy Rain, in an Instagram post.
“While waiting for her to come, I kept feeling this sense that she was going to be born at a very pivotal time in history and that she would represent a dawn, or even awakening, to years of great blessing for our family and nation,” he wrote. “Another picture that came to me was of God reaching down into a river bed and picking up a small stone (rock), examining it intently. Just as David had done before slaying Goliath, God examined the stone and was confident that it was just the perfect one for the battle. Although it was small, smooth and somewhat harmless looking, he knew that it would become great when placed into the palm of a skilled hand. My declaration over Roxy Rain is that she has been hand picked by God to slay the giants in the land.”