Content warning: child harm
Matthew Taylor Coleman was a normal guy. Born in Santa Barbara in 1981, his mother was an artist, and his dad owned a small business. He learned to love the ocean early, and spent his time as a kid sailing, surfing, and spearfishing off the California coast. He earned a BA from San Loma University while “competing on San Loma’s National Championship surf team,” then taught English in San Sebastian, Spain to high school students. After two years of traveling, teaching high school, and working with surfing students, he came back to Santa Barbara to earn a master’s degree in Spanish. His Evangelical faith pushed him to “give back to the community,” and in 2011, hecfounded Lovewater Surf School, a Christian surf camp, known as the #1 surf school in Santa Barbara and Ventura.
Active in the Christian surf community for years, a student of Coleman’s in the early 2010s describes him as “typical Santa Barbara water guy: a sportsman, spearfisher, and surfer. ‘He was always very cheerful and upbeat, sometimes to the point of being a little unsettling.'” He was known as an Evangelical Christian, someone who frequently “preached” about right and wrong.
He showed no warning signs of the chilling crime he’d commit in August of 2021.
In 2017, Coleman married his wife, Abby. “In marriage, we’re given someone that is there to daily celebrate the other in a way that none other can do,” he posted on Instagram on his first wedding anniversary (his Instagram account has since been removed). In October 2018, his son Kaleo (Kah-lee-oh) was born at home; Coleman dedicated him “appointed to bring the sound of heaven’s dove… and a voice that speaks to a generation.” A daughter, Roxy Rain, was born at home in a thunderstorm almost exactly two years later. Announcing her birth on Instagram, he proclaimed that “she has been hand picked by God to slay the giants in the land… she has been born with everything she needs to fully accomplish God’s plan for her life and that she will be a great blessing wherever she goes.”
The last Instagram photo of his children, posted on July 16th, 2021, showed three-year-old Kaleo standing on a surfboard with him. On May 6, he posted a picture of his wife, daughter, and son, calling them “his treasures.”
A mere two months later, he murdered those children in cold blood.
Coleman Flees Home
On August 7th, Abby called Santa Barbara police. While she and her husband were packing for a camping trip, he suddenly drove off in their Mercedes van with both children. They hadn’t been arguing; they’d experienced no marital stress. At first Abby was merely concerned. He didn’t have a carseat. He wasn’t answering her text messages. But she said she believed her kids were “in no danger” and said he would never harm their children. He’d come back to their home eventually, she told police.
She was tragically wrong.
Her husband wasn’t responding to other family members’ phone calls or texts. Police suggested Abby use the “Find My Phone” app, and he was located immediately — in Pabellon Rosita, a Mexican town in the state of Baja California. Why was her husband in Mexico? Mexican police located surveillance photos of him checking into a hotel the day of his disappearance. On August 9th, he left the hotel in the early morning with his two-year-old son and ten-month-old daughter. Later that morning he returned — alone.
Coleman Had Run Off The Rails
Coleman appeared to be a loving father. In July, an anonymous surf instructor said he’d stood on the beach with Coleman as they watched their students. The two men spoke about “being dads and life in general… Coleman seemed his usual cheerful self, speaking in terms of love and God, and of getting to teach his son to stand on a board.”
But Coleman had run off the rails.
A federal affidavit says that Coleman had been “receiving visions and signs” that Abby “possessed serpent DNA and had passed it on to their children.” He said he’d been “enlightened by QAnon [sic] and Illuminati conspiracy theories” and he had to “save the world from monsters.”
Q-Anon, a bizarre conspiracy theory that began in the murky depths of 4chan, alleges that celebrities and Hollywood elite, including the Clintons, Obamas, Chrissy Teigen, and others worship Satan, engage in pedophilia, child murder, and blood-drinking rituals in order to maintain their youth. They take messages from an anonymous “Q,” who leaves allegedly coded clues for true believers to decipher. Trump, they claim, is still a shadow president, and Biden stole the election. Q-Anon adherents were major players in the January 6th Capitol riot.
It’s believed that the “serpent DNA” refers to an older conspiracy theory, which alleges that the government and celebrities are actually lizard aliens.
What Happened In Those Early Morning Hours?
When the FBI contacted their Mexican liason and described the children, they reported that two infants matching their description had been located at approximately 8am that morning. A ranch hand had noticed blood outside his home, and he was “shocked” when his dog led him “to two small bodies.” He teared up, and says that, “I immediately notified my manager to call the police to come investigate. I was scared and sad because these are tiny children who don’t know any better.”
When Coleman returned, sans children, through the San Ysidro Point of Entry, authorities pulled him for extra screening. They discovered blood on his car’s registration papers, and he was arrested.
After his arrest, Coleman told federal authorities that in the absence of a car seat, he had transported his youngest child “in a box.” Obsessed with a certainty of their serpent DNA, he drove his two children out to Rancho del Cielo near Rosarita in Baja California, about thirty miles from Tijuana. There, he stabbed ten month old Roxy with a spear gun 12 times, killing her with a direct hit to the heart. Kaleo was murdered with the same spear gun, but when he didn’t immediately die, Coleman told authorities that he “injured his hand” moving the gun around.
Afterwards, he said, he moved his children’s bodies back into the brush, then drove about two miles and ditched bloody clothes and the spear gun near a creek. He deposited more bloody clothes and a child’s blanket in a blue trash can located near Tijuana.
Reactions to the Coleman Murder
Coleman’s wife remains baffled and “devastated.” A family friend says that “She is confused, stunned and just destroyed inside. She never had any idea he thought all these things. She thinks he just snapped. Something must have happened in his brain.”
Calvary Chapel in Santa Barbara, which had a surf ministry in which Coleman participated, held a special altar call after the events. We’ve seen people get carried away by things like conspiracy,” said Pastor Tommy Schneider. “It can be dangerous, although I’m not sure what that means for Matthew … As Jesus said: Don’t be deceived; walk in love. This walk for Matthew obviously changed course; he lost his focus.”
One surfer said 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.”
Patrick Woods, another surfer in Coleman’s area, 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.”
On August 11th, Coleman was charged with the foreign murder of U.S. nationals, a crime that required the United States attorney general to approve, and retained with no chance of bail. His arraignment is set for August 31st.
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