A Santa Barbara father has been charged with taking his two young children away from their home to Rosarito, Mexico, over the weekend and at some point stabbing them to death, authorities said Wednesday.
Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, was charged with foreign murder of United States nationals for the slayings of his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter on Monday in Rosarito, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a news release.
Authorities first learned about the family on Saturday, when Coleman’s wife contacted the Santa Barbara Police Department and reported that her husband left with them in a Sprinter van and she did not know where they had gone, the DOJ said in a news release.
The following day, Coleman’s wife filed a missing persons report.
According to the investigation, Coleman and his children checked into a Rosarito hotel on Saturday. Surveillance video showed the father and his children leaving before dawn on Monday, authorities said.
Coleman later returned alone later that morning to the hotel, then he left for good back toward the U.S.
According to the DOJ, Coleman’s wife was able to determine by using a computer application that Coleman’s phone had been in Rosarito on Sunday afternoon. That same phone-locating service was used again on Monday and showed that Coleman’s phone was near the San Ysidro Port of Entry at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The FBI dispatched colleagues in San Diego to contact Coleman, who entered the United States in the Sprinter van without the children,” the DOJ said in a statement. “When the children were not found, FBI agents contacted law enforcement officials in Rosarito and learned that Mexican authorities that morning had recovered the bodies of two children matching the description of Coleman’s children.”
Authorities said the bodies of the children were found Monday morning by a farmworker at a ranch near Rosarito.
Coleman’s infant daughter was stabbed 12 times, while his 2-year-old son was stabbed 17 times, Mexican authorities said. A blood-stained wooden stake also was found nearby.
Coleman, who founded a surfing school in Santa Barbara, was taken into custody by FBI agents.
He is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
The case remains under investigation by the FBI, the United States Customs and Border Protection, the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública Municipal de Rosarito.