Matthew Coleman Left Behind a 'Shrine' to His Children in Hotel Before He Allegedly Killed Them

Matthew Taylor Coleman allegedly confessed to killing his two children in August 2021

On the afternoon of Aug. 7, 2021, Matthew Taylor Coleman was packing for a family trip with his wife, Abby. Suddenly, authorities say, he put his two kids — Kaleo, 2, and Roxy, 10 months — into his van and drove away from their Santa Barbara, Calif., home.

Crossing the border into Mexico, Coleman ended up at the City Express Hotel in the coastal city of Rosarito. While at the hotel, Coleman and his kids kept a low profile, staying in their room. Although one guest recalled seeing the family in the lobby; they didn't interact with anyone.

Colmean stayed in the hotel for two days before, authorities allege, he took Kaleo and Roxy to a nearby ranch and killed them with a spearfishing gun.

Authorities say that Coleman left the children's bodies in a remote part of the ranch — but a farmer stumbled across them just hours after they were killed. Before Coleman was able to cross the border into the U.S., authorities on both sides of the border were looking for him. He was apprehended as he tried to enter California.

Matthew Taylor Coleman
Matthew Taylor Coleman/instagram

A manager helped authorities enter Coleman's room at the City Express Hotel. It had not yet been cleaned by housekeeping, and it's believed that Coleman was the last person inside the room. According to two sources — one in law enforcement and one at the hotel — Coleman's room was cleaned out of all personal effects, except for three things.

Two stuffed animals sat on a table, with a family portrait propped against it. Next to it: a Gideon Bible opened to Psalm 127, which says, in part, "Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior's hands."

"The page was folded so that it was the first verse you could see," says the law enforcement source. "It may all mean nothing. But it felt like a shrine. It felt significant."

According to an FBI criminal complaint obtained by PEOPLE last year, Coleman allegedly told police he was motivated by the QAnon conspiracy theory, which falsely claims former U.S. President Donald Trump has secretly been battling a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles at the highest levels of political power and influence.

Matthew Taylor Coleman
Kaleo and Roxy Coleman. Matthew Taylor Coleman/instagram

In a subsequent 30-page search warrant application released earlier this year, Coleman's alleged conspiratorial thinking are detailed even more. The affidavit alleged that Coleman was fascinated by conspiracy theories like QAnon and Illuminati, and was interested also in Strong's numbers, an index of every word in the Bible.

Coleman allegedly told agents that while he was in Mexico, he had laid in bed "seeing all the pieces being decoded like The Matrix, and that he was Neo."

"He said visions and signs revealed that his wife, A.C. [Abby Coleman], possessed serpent DNA (M. COLEMAN mentioned that he was not sure if his wife was a shapeshifter) and had passed it onto his children and that all things were pointing to the idea that his children have corrupted DNA that will spread if something is not done about it," reads the affidavit.

The affidavit states that Abby Coleman told authorities that she had also researched QAnon with her husband, but said he "became significantly more paranoid that people around him were involved in a conspiracy."

Coleman has been charged with two federal counts of murdering U.S. nationals on foreign soil. His attorney has not returned PEOPLE's calls for comment. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bond.

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