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Cult experts discuss alleged conspiracy theory-believing dad accused of killing kids

Posted at 4:55 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 18:21:38-04

(KGTV) — Questions remain about what ideology may have led a Santa Barbara man to admit to murdering his children in Mexico, after reportedly awakening to QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory which alleges that a cabal of satanic pedophiles is operating a child sex trafficking ring.

"I'd consider it a psychological operation. It's very sophisticated," said Susan Pease Bannit, a licensed therapist whose been counseling cult victims for more than 20 years.

Matthew Coleman, 40, appeared in court on Wednesday after being detained while trying to cross back into the United States. His wife reported that he and their two young kids disappeared last weekend and his phone was traced to Mexico. Investigators said that he confessed to killing the kids.

RELATED: Santa Barbara dad accused of killing kids in Baja California detained at border

When questioned, he said he was "enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracies" and believed his wife has serpent DNA that she passed on to their children so "he was saving the world from monsters".

"QAnon, in this instance, is a variation or repackaging of some pretty old misogynistic narratives about women and fear of women that have then led to lethal action," said Rutgers University professor and QAnon expert Jack Bratich.

He called QAnon a militant spiritual movement, in part.

"What I was reminded of was the very long history of the attack and even murder of women who were thought to consort with the devil or some demon. We have that in some of our origin stories about Eve consorting with the devil and such," he added.

Investigators said that Coleman's wife said that she did not believe that her husband would harm the kids.

It raises doubt about whether she knew the extent of his ideology.

"Ironically, sometimes the closer you are to someone, the less you might see it because of an investment in maintaining that attachment," said Pease Banitt.

It begs the question, of whether there are so-called warning signs.

"[If] someone is now saying that they've been filled with a mission and a zealotry about something, it might be worth paying attention to," said Bratich.

Pease Bannit told ABC 10News, "Sometimes when people commit these acts, it's very impulsive and they may not give a sign until they're actually in action with it."

Coleman is now charged with murdering U.S. nationals on foreign soil.