What a horrible end to an unceasingly disturbing story.
Machelle Hobson has died. You may not recognize the name, but you may well be familiar with the crimes of which the 48-year-old was accused.
As a foster mother, Machelle (also known as Machelle Hackney) found a novel way of making money off her seven adopted children — she made them act in YouTube videos.
The Fantastic Adventures YouTube channel featured the kids engaging in scripted hijinks like Nerf battles, cookie thefts, and food fights — and garnered over 800,000 subscribers and 250 million views along the way, earning Machelle thousands of dollars in ad revenue.
However, in March the foster mom was arrested after a tip from Hobson’s adult daughter led to a welfare check — which confirmed the children were “malnourished” and complaining of hunger.
Later they told authorities they had been abused regularly, mostly to keep them appearing in the videos.
[Trigger Warning: Child Abuse Details]
One child alleged she had been locked in a closet with no food, water, or bathroom breaks for days. Hobson was accused of beating the kids with hangers and belts and giving them painful ice baths. They also said she sometimes used pepper spray on them; one young girl said Hobson had pepper-sprayed her vagina, causing several days of pain afterward. One boy said his foster mother had pinched the tip of his penis until it bled.
In all Hobson faced 30 charges of child abuse, unlawful imprisonment, and kidnapping. Her adult sons were also initially arrested, but charges were dropped after they corroborated the children’s stories.
The alleged crimes, it seems, will forever go unpunished.
According to Scottsdale police, eight months later, Hobson has died of unidentified “health conditions.” A lengthy investigation is not expected.
Just two weeks after her arrest, Hobson appeared in court in a wheelchair; according to reports at the time she had suffered a brain injury in prison; according to a source close to the family, she had a brain aneurysm. This Summer, doctors had assessed she was unfit to stand trial, though attorneys hoped she would recover, and justice could be served.
The Pinal County Attorney’s Office told local affiliate ABC15 they will officially dismiss criminal charges only after they’ve received a death certificate. However, they will continue to seek restitution from Hobson’s assets, which reportedly include over $100,000 in cash.
Wait, in cash?? Whoa! Who has 100k in cash sitting around??
Per prosecutors, any money recovered will go to the children. So that’s something good at least.
BTW, YouTube terminated the Fantastic Adventures channel after Hobson’s arrest, saying it violated the community guidelines on “child safety.”
[Image via Pinal County Detention Center.]
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