In December 2020, Los Angeles Fire Department resoonded to a potential gas leak in Lancaster, California. Nothing could have prepared them for what they discovered in the suburban home: two children, decapitated, in separate rooms while the rest of their family sat inside the property.
The father of the two children, fitness instructor Maurice Taylor Sr, 35, was taken in by police for questioning on 4 December and charged with the murder of his children Maliaka Taylor, 13, and Maurice Taylor Jr, 12.
According to prosecutors, Mr Taylor Sr was accused of decapitating the youngsters and making his other children, who were 8 and 9Â years old at the time, look at the bodies.
The murdered children were discovered five days after they had been beheaded inÂ theirÂ CaliforniaÂ homeÂ on 29 November, 2020.
This week, the case unfolded further as the mother of the children, Natalie Brothwell, was arrested at her home in Tucson, Arizona, on two counts of murder.
Ms Brothwell, 44, is being held at the Pima County Jail before her extradition toÂ California.
In a release given at the time regarding the discovery of theÂ bodiesÂ during the callout for a suspected gas leak, Los Angles County Sheriffâs Department Information Bureau said: âFire personnel responded and made entry into the location, at which time they saw a male and a female deceased inside the location. Both appeared to be suffering from lacerations and stab wounds.â
Mr Taylor Sr, a formerÂ fitness instructor, remains in custody, with a bail of $4.2 million.
It is so far unclear as to why theÂ policeÂ have arrested Ms Brothwell so long after the fatherâs arrest, and what her role was in her childrenâs deaths.
Ms Brothwell has separately been charged with two counts of felony child endangerment. Her children wereÂ allegedly forcedÂ to stay in their rooms without food for several days, according toÂ prosecutors.
During Mr Taylor Srâs arraignment, he explained that he wanted to ârepresent himselfâ and did not agree to an attorney. âGod is telling me to represent myself in this matter,â heÂ saidÂ after he was appointed a state attorney, âI feel disrespected that the council wonât respect my decisionâ.
After being asked about his education he said: âIâm with the American College of Sports Medicine as a personal trainerâŚ itâs the top examination you can get for being a personal trainer.â Taylor could face up to 57 years to life in stateÂ prison.
A former neighbour of theÂ familyÂ told Dailymail.com in December, âI remember when each of the four kids were born and I remember the excitement there was surrounding them.
âAs they grew up, it was obvious they had a sense for adventure and new experiences, even at a young age. Maliaka was very smart, very adventurous and observant. She really would have grown to reach her potential.
âMo Jr. looked up to his bigÂ sisterÂ and admired all she did. Iâm sure they stuck very close to each other as they grew older and I know they were together in the end. I will always remember their smiling faces.â
Lynn Mullineaux, a friend of the childrenâs maternal grandmother, Debra Brothwell, told ABC7 news that extended members of theÂ familyÂ were pushed away due to a controlling father.
They were âtaken from their lives by a controlling son-in-law,â she said. âShe has made pleas for any information, any knowledge, any information that she could find to know that her grandchildren were OK,â said Ms Mullineaux of the grandmother.
Several clients toldÂ The LosÂ AngelesÂ TimesÂ that Mr Taylor Sr was a diligent and hardworking trainer. Howard Kern, an attorney, had seen the trainer for several years.
âThink of the nicest person that you know, then multiply that by five,â Kern said. âHe worked so hard to support himself. Unfortunately, weÂ donât knowÂ enough to say what happened or what didnât happen,â he said.
Mr Kern had witnessed phone arguments between Mr Taylor and hisÂ partnerÂ Ms Brothwell. âIt was embarrassing â you could hear her yelling at him,â said Kern. âHeâd be very apologetic and sheâd be yelling at him.â
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