LANCASTER – A man was charged Tuesday with murdering his 12-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter — who were decapitated — in Lancaster last week.
Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., a 34-year-old personal trainer, was charged with two felony counts each of murder and child abuse under circumstances likely to cause great bodily injury or death. He could face up to 57 years and four months to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Taylor was ordered to be held in lieu of $4.2 million bail while awaiting arraignment Dec. 21 in a Lancaster courtroom.
The children’s deaths were reported around 7:50 a.m. Friday, Dec. 4, in the family’s home in the 45000 block of Century Circle in Lancaster, according to sheriff’s Deputy Eric Ortiz, who said both children had apparent “lacerations and stab wounds.” The victims were identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office as Maurice Taylor Jr., 12, and Maliaka Taylor, 13.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told the Los Angeles Times that the youngsters were decapitated, and the District Attorney’s Office confirmed that account on Tuesday.
Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean confirmed that Taylor’s wife and their two younger children were inside the home when authorities discovered the bodies; and they were questioned by homicide detectives. The child abuse charges pertain to the younger children — boys, ages 8 and 9.
Taylor worked at a physical therapy center in Santa Monica but had been conducting training sessions via Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some of his clients contacted authorities when they could not reach him for scheduled appointments in the week leading up to the discovery of the victims.
UPDATE: According to a news release by the District Attorney’s Office, Maurice Taylor allegedly killed his 12-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter on Nov. 29. His other two boys “ages 8 and 9 were allegedly shown their murdered siblings and were forced to stay in their bedrooms for several days without food.” Read the LADA news release here.
Previous related story: Two people dead in Lancaster; investigation underway