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When Abby Coleman first contacted the police in Santa Barbara last Saturday, she said she wasn’t worried about her children’s safety.
Her husband, Matthew Coleman, 40, had taken their 2-year-old son Kaleo and 10-month-old daughter Roxy without her, even though they had been planning on going on a family camping trip together.
She told a police officer who returned her call that “she did not believe that [her husband] would harm her children, nor did she believe her children were in any danger.”
But two days later, a farmhand found the bodies of Kaleo and Roxy in the undergrowth near a ranch in Mexico. Both children had been stabbed more than a dozen times.
Hours later, the FBI apprehended Matthew Coleman as he crossed the border back into the U.S., and he soon confessed to killing his children.
His reason? QAnon and other conspiracies had “enlightened” him, and he believed his children were going to “grow into monsters.” Coleman told the FBI agent interviewing him, that he felt the only way to “save the world” was to murder his own children.
The horrific and tragic murders of two young children has rocked the community in Santa Barbara where Coleman lived and worked.
He was a well-known figure at surf camps at Santa Clara beach, just east of Santa Barbara, where he taught children ages eight to thirteen how to surf, interspersed with bible study sessions.
Among other projects, the surf school he launched with his wife had even started an initiative to teach young victims of human trafficking, most of them teenage girls, how to surf.
Members of a Christian surfing group told VICE News that Coleman did not attract any suspicion during a paddle-out memorial service for a deceased friend several weeks ago, and seemed normal.
On Wednesday, at Calvary Santa Barbara, a church Coleman was associated with, the pastor, Tommy Schneider addressed the community. “He's taken care of your children, walked in your circles, been the best man at some of your weddings,” Schneider said. “This is a person that we know. It feels like a betrayal because it is a betrayal. It's a heartache past what we can understand.”
Schneider then addressed the conspiracy theory Coleman says inspired him to commit this horrific crime.
Who is Matthew Coleman?
Coleman was born and raised in Santa Barbara, according to a biography posted on the website of his surf school called Lovewater Surf Co.
It says he learned to spearfish and sail as a boy, but fell in love with surfing and competed on the surf team for Point Loma Nazarene University as an undergrad.
Coleman then moved to Spain before travelling to more than 20 countries on a “surf mission.” He returned to Santa Barbara where he married his wife in 2017, and set up his surf school.
There is nothing on Coleman’s public social media accounts that would suggest an interest in QAnon or any other QAnon conspiracies. His Instagram profile is filled with images of what appears to be an idyllic life, showing him as an attentive father and loving husband.
In a post from the end of May marking his 40th birthday, Coleman is seen in a picture surrounded by friends on a boat, with the caption: “Couldn’t be more excited for the next 40 years to come.”
The QAnon conspiracy theory, which has millions of adherents across the U.S., posits that a secret group of elites is operating a global child sex-trafficking ring and that former President Donald Trump is working to unmask it.
Abby Coleman told police that she and her husband were planning a family camping trip last weekend, but instead on Saturday, Matthew Coleman left the family home in Santa Barbara with the two children in his Mercedes Sprinter van without saying where he was going.
Matthew Coleman did not respond to calls or text messages from his wife, so hours later she contacted the police to seek assistance in getting in touch with her husband. When the police officer who called was unable to help, Abby Coleman said “she did not believe that [her husband] would harm her children, nor did she believe her children were in any danger.”
But 24 hours later, Abby Coleman rang the police again and officially reported the three missing. Using the ‘Find My iPhone’ app on her laptop, Abby was able to see that her husband’s phone had registered on a network 250 miles away, in Rosarito, a resort city on the Pacific coast in Mexico, just south of the U.S. border.
On Monday, a new search located Matthew Coleman’s phone near the Mexico-U.S. border, at which point the FBI sent an agent to intercept him as he crossed back into the U.S. in his van, without the children.
When it was discovered that Coleman was travelling alone, the FBI contacted authorities in Mexico who told them that a farm hand working at a ranch near Rosarito had discovered the bodies of two children matching the descriptions of Kaleo and Roxy on Monday morning.
In an interview with FBI agents later that day, Matthew Coleman confessed to murdering his two children.
Why did he do it?
Coleman confessed to killing both children by shooting them through the chest with a spear fishing gun, according to a nine-page affidavit filed by FBI agent Jennifer Bannon to the court on Wednesday. Mexican authorities told AP that Roxy had been stabbed 12 times, and Kaleo was stabbed 17 times.
Coleman said he had left the house without informing his wife on Saturday and because he didn’t have a car seat for his infant daughter, he put her in a box.
Coleman had checked into a hotel in Rosarito on Saturday, where he stayed for two nights. CCTV footage shows him leaving before dawn on Monday with his children, but returning hours later alone.
Coleman told the FBI that his son didn’t die right away, so he “had to move the spear around, thereby cutting his hand in the process.”
On Wednesday the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California charged Coleman with foreign murder of United States nationals. He is due back in court again on August 31.
When asked why he killed them, Coleman told the agents that he “believed his children were going to grow into monsters so he had to kill them.”
He continued 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 onto his children.”
Coleman said he was “saving the world from monsters.”
When asked if he knew what he was doing was wrong, he told the agents “he knew it was wrong, but it was the only course of action that would save the world.”