LANCASTER – The mother of a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl who were decapitated in Lancaster last year was arrested in Arizona this week in connection with their deaths, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday.
Natalie Brothwell, 44, was taken into custody Tuesday at her home in Tucson, Arizona, on two counts each of murder and child endangerment, and will remain behind bars at the Pima County Jail pending extradition to California, according to the sheriff’s department. Sheriff’s officials did not release details about Brothwell’s role in the murders or why she wasn’t arrested sooner.
The children’s father, Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., now 35, was arrested last Dec. 4 and was subsequently charged with two counts of murder involving his 12-year-old son, Maurice Jr., and 13-year-old daughter, Maliaka, along with two felony counts of child abuse under circumstances or conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death involving his 8- and 9-year-old sons.
He is set to be arraigned Nov. 10 in a Lancaster courtroom.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that the two older children were decapitated and that the two younger boys were shown their slain siblings and forced to stay in their bedrooms for several days without food.
The victims were stabbed Nov. 29, 2020, and their bodies were still inside the family’s home in the 45000 block of Century Circle when authorities arrived five days later on Dec. 4, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Eric Ortiz.
Taylor worked at a physical therapy center in Santa Monica, but had been conducting training sessions via Zoom due to the COVID-19 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 children’s bodies.
Without naming Taylor, District Attorney George Gascón noted last December that a defendant charged in a “horrific case in Lancaster” could face “more than a half a century” behind bars if he’s convicted.
The murder charges against Taylor do not include special circumstance allegations that could have made him eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Taylor faces a potential state prison sentence of 57 years and four months to life if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
It was not immediately clear whether Brothwell could face the same potential life prison sentence if she is convicted as charged.
The district attorney said last year he has heard about the “hue and cry” about how the filing decision may “somehow provide less safety for our community in the case.”
“What would be the utility to take somebody that is probably going to spend the rest of his life in prison to continue to add years and waste taxpayers’ money on additional litigation?” Gascón asked soon after being sworn into office.
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