A California father accused of killing his two children because he thought they had "serpent DNA" has been indicted, federal officials said in a press release on Wednesday, September 8.
Last month, Matthew Taylor Coleman allegedly traveled to Mexico and killed his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter.
The 40-year-old was charged with two counts of foreign first-degree murder of United States nationals. The charges are eligible for the death penalty, but the Attorney General will decide whether or not to seek the death penalty at a later date, the press release noted.
Coleman allegedly stabbed both of his children with a spearfishing gun and left their dead bodies on a ranch. According to police, he then went back to his hotel room and tried to cross the border back into the U.S., which is where he was then taken into custody.
The surf school owner's wife contacted Santa Barbara Police on August 7 and filed a missing person's report.
Coleman allegedly claimed in an interview with the FBI that he was "enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories." According to FBI special agent Jennifer Bannon, Coleman believed that he was receiving "visions and signs" that his wife has serpent DNA that was passed onto their children.
"M. Coleman stated that he believed his children were going to grow into monsters so he had to kill them" and said he was "saving the world from monsters," Bannon said in the criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court on Wednesday, August 25.
Last month, it was reported that Coleman was undergoing psychological testing in order to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial. He is being held at an undisclosed federal prison following his arrest.
A pal that used to work out with Coleman told PEOPLE that he would talk about "the basic stuff you'd expect of a guy with a newborn and a toddler," but later got into some "weird stuff."
The friend said that Coleman never said anything that suggested he was a danger to himself or others. "We're all pretty conservative, and this was not just conservative political talk. This was just out there. Stuff that made zero sense to me," the pal explained.
"There are no words to describe the profound grief that envelops an entire community when a child is murdered," Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in the press release. "The Department of Justice is determined to achieve justice for these victims and their loved ones."
"The murder of a child is difficult to understand under any circumstances," Kristi K. Johnson, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said. "I’m proud of the quick investigative efforts by FBI Agents, the Santa Barbara Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and our Mexican counterparts which led to the arrest of Mr. Coleman as he entered the United States, and I look forward to delivering justice for the young victims and their family."
Coleman could face death or life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.