A Los Angeles-area personal trainer was charged Tuesday, December 8, with murdering his 12-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter by allegedly decapitating them, then forcing their younger brothers to look at the corpses.
Maurice Jewel Taylor, Sr. has been charged with two felony counts each of murder and child abuse under circumstances likely to cause great bodily injury or death, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office announced.
According to local news, deputies were called out to Taylor's home in Lancaster, Calif., Friday morning, where they found 12-year-old Maurice Taylor, Jr. and 13-year-old Maliaka Taylor decapitated and sporting lacerations and stab wounds on their bodies.
Officials also discovered and questioned two boys, aged 8 and 9, and an unidentified woman in the house thought to be Taylor's wife. Prosecutors allege the boys were the slain children's younger brothers, and that Taylor had them observe their dead siblings before shutting them in their rooms without any food. The child abuse charges he faces stem from these reported actions toward the younger boys.
Taylor worked at a physical therapy center in Santa Monica, which is about an hour's drive from Lancaster, but during the pandemic had been holding sessions via Zoom. When he failed to sign in for several of his appointments, his clients contacted authorities out of concern, which led to the discovery of the slain children.
A friend of Taylor's mother-in-law started a GoFundMe to assist her with legal funds to hopefully get custody of her surviving grandchildren. She noted that the children's grandmother had been cut from their lives by Taylor, and that she had been left completely in the dark as to their wellbeing. She was shocked to find out about the deaths and abuse.
"She had spoke to me personally about being taken from the children's lives by a controlling son-in-law," the friend detailed. "She has made pleas for any information, any knowledge, any information that she could find to know that her grandchildren were okay."
Taylor is currently being held on $4.2 million bail and is set to appear in court December 21. If he is convicted as charged, he faces a potential state prison sentence of 57 years and four months to life.