Timeline: What Happened in the Case of a Santa Barbara Father Accused of Killing His Kids in Mexico

Here's what we know about the investigation that led to the arrest of a Santa Barbara man on charges he killed his two children in Rosarito, Mexico, with a fishing spear

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A father from Santa Barbara, California, has been charged with murder after he allegedly took his 10-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son to Baja California, Mexico, and killed them with a fishing spear because he "believed his children were going to grow into monsters," according to federal prosecutors.

Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, has been charged with foreign murder of U.S. nationals, a federal charge given by U.S. prosecutors when an American citizen is killed in another country.

According to a federal complaint, Coleman admitted to the brutal killing of his two children in a Mirandaed interview, where he referenced conspiracy theories from QAnon and the Illuminati.

He told investigators that killing his children "was the only course of action that would save the world" because his wife "possessed serpent DNA" and had passed it on to his children, according to the complaint.

"Serpent DNA" is an apparent reference to the "lizard people" conspiracy theory, which falsely purports that reptilian aliens secretly run the world and have taken over important positions in government, banking and Hollywood, according to NBC News.

Here's what happened from the moment Coleman's wife reported him and their two children missing until now:

According to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, Coleman unexplainably left his Santa Barbara home with his two children on Aug. 7, 2021.

His wife, identified in the complaint solely as A.C., called Santa Barbara police after she was unable to get a hold of Coleman.

A.C. told a Santa Barbara police officer that their family had planned to take a camping trip. Instead, Coleman took off in their van with their two kids and without telling her where he was going. He was also not answering her text messages, the complaint said.

At this time, Coleman's wife did not believe her children were in danger. She did not believe that Coleman would harm them and thought he'd eventually return home, the complaint said.

No official missing persons report was filed.

8:00 p.m. Coleman checks into the Hotel City Express in Rosarito, Mexico with two toddler children. He does not have a reservation and asks for a stay for one night, according to Mexican authorities citing surveillance video of his arrival.

7:00 p.m. The next day, A.C. called the police again. At 7 p.m., an officer came to the family's Santa Barbara home and took an official police report, and Coleman and the two children -- a 10-month-old girl and a 2-year-old boy -- were officially reported missing.

According to the complaint, A.C. told police that they had not had any problems or any argument before he left. She was still unable to reach him by phone.

The officer suggested attempting to locate Coleman via the "Find My iPhone" locator app, the complaint said. A.C. agreed and saw that he was in Rosarito, Mexico -- a city about 20 miles south of the border with San Diego County -- at about 2:30 p.m. that day. It was his last known location.

With the missing persons now believed to be in Mexico, the case was handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Fiscalía General del Estado de Baja California
Surveillance video captured the suspect checking into City Express Rosarito, authorities said

The FBI alerted authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego County to be on the lookout for Coleman and his two children.

3:00 a.m. Coleman is seen leaving the Hotel City Express with bags and his two children, according to surveillance video obtained by Mexican authorities.

6:30 a.m. Coleman returns to the hotel alone.

7:30 a.m. Mexican authorities receive a report that two lifeless children have been located at the Rancho El Descanso ranch about 20 miles south of the hotel. The ranch owner called police after a farm worker discovered the two young bodies. He told Mexican officials his dog led them to the crime scene.

Their bodies were covered with dozens of stab wounds, Mexican authorities said.

9:30 a.m. Coleman checks out of his hotel alone.

Fiscalía General del Estado de Baja California
Surveillance video shows a man believed to be Coleman leaving the hotel at 3 a.m. with bags and two children, authorities said

1:00 p.m. According to the criminal complaint, Santa Barbara police inform the FBI the Find My iPhone locator app has provided a new pinpoint for Coleman -- the San Ysidro Port of Entry, a land border crossing south of San Diego.

Coleman arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border inspection point, alone. This prompted an FBI agent to contact Mexican authorities to report two U.S. citizen children missing.

Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducted a search of the van. The criminal complaint said a CBP officer discovered what appeared to be blood on the van's registration paperwork and alerted the FBI.

Mexican authorities told the FBI the bodies of two young children were found earlier that morning. Investigators believed the descriptions matched those of Coleman's two children.

A photo of Santa Barbara surf instructor Matt Taylor Coleman, who is accused of killing his two children in Rosarito, Mexico.Instagram/lovewater_surf
A photo of Santa Barbara surf instructor Matt Taylor Coleman, who is accused of killing his two children in Rosarito, Mexico. This photo is from his surf school's Instagram account.

Coleman is pulled into an inspection room where he is read his Miranda rights by an FBI agent, according to the criminal complaint. Coleman agrees to speak with authorities anyway in a recorded interview.

The FBI agent said during the interview, Coleman confessed to killing his children because his children were going to "grow into monsters." According to the complaint, Coleman described using a fishing spear to puncture his two children repeatedly and gave the location of their bodies -- all of which coincided with evidence found at the scene. Coleman also told authorities where the weapon was located.

During the interview, Coleman referenced QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories, the complaint said. He said he was receiving visions that his wife possessed serpent DNA and had passed it on to his children.

When asked whether he knew what he did was wrong, Coleman told authorities that he did "but it was the only course of action to save the world."

Coleman is arrested.

FBI agents transported Coleman from the San Ysidro Port of Entry to the Santa Ana jail where he faced charges of foreign murder of U.S. nationals.

Later that day, Mexican officials recovered the murder weapon, bloodied clothes and a baby blanket.

Coleman made his first court appearance at the U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles. He was ordered detained by a federal judge and is in custody. He is scheduled to be arraigned on charges on Aug. 31.

Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, was charged with two counts of foreign first-degree murder of U.S. nationals. By law, the charges are eligible for the death penalty, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a release.

Coleman will appear in the United States District Court in San Diego, where the case will be prosecuted. The date has not been released.

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