SAN DIEGO — A California surfing school owner was arrested on suspicion of stabbing to death his two young children in Mexico, authorities said Tuesday.
Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, of Santa Barbara, was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents while crossing into the United States from Mexico at the San Ysidro checkpoint and remained in federal custody, Mexican authorities said.
The arrest came after the bodies of two children, a 3-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy, were found Monday morning by a farmworker at a ranch near Rosarito in Baja California, said Hiram Sanchez, Baja California’s attorney general.
The girl had been stabbed 12 times, and the boy was stabbed 17 times, he said. A blood-stained wooden stake also was found, authorities said.
"They lived in Santa Barbara, California and were brought to Rosarito without the mother's consent," Sanchez said, in Spanish, during a press conference, according to Telemundo 20 in San Diego.
Coleman and the children had checked into a Rosarito hotel on Saturday, but video footage showed them leaving before dawn on Monday, authorities said.
The man later returned alone later that morning and then left the hotel for good, authorities said.
The attorney general added that the suspect had a master's degree in Spanish and would have attempted to flee the United States through the international border of San Ysidro.
"You see a prepared person; hence it is very clear about the intentions of the acts that were being carried out," Sanchez said.
Coleman founded a surfing school in Santa Barbara, northwest of Los Angeles, authorities said.
Police in Santa Barbara said Coleman’s wife had reported them missing and said she was concerned for their well-being.
Coleman could face Mexican charges of aggravated murder.
The case is being investigated by the FBI in Los Angeles and San Diego, the Border Patrol and the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Efforts to reach Coleman were unsuccessful Wednesday. It was unclear if he had an attorney.