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Horror mom who beat and starved her seven adopted children for YouTube videos dies during trial

Machelle Hobson forced her children to take part in clips for her "Fantastic Adventures" channel and allegedly beat, starved, and pepper-sprayed them so they would adhere to her demands.
UPDATED FEB 20, 2020
(Police Department)
(Police Department)

A mother has reportedly died after being accused of abusing her seven adopted children while forcing them to perform in lucrative YouTube videos. Machelle Hobson forced her children to take part in clips for her "Fantastic Adventures" channel and allegedly beat, starved, and pepper-sprayed them so they would adhere to her demands, AZ Central reports.

The 48-year-old pleaded not guilty to 24 counts of child abuse, five counts of kidnapping and one count of aggravated assault and was due to face trial when she suddenly died at a hospital in Scottsdale on Tuesday morning, according to Ricardo Alvarado, a spokesman for Maricopa Police Department. The cause and manner of death are yet to be revealed.

Hobson's YouTube channel had over 800,000 subscribers and more than 250 million total views. In order to make sure her children performed in the videos as asked, the horror mom allegedly used pepper spray on a child's genitals, applied a lighter or stun gun to a victim's genitals, arm or other body parts, and even caused them to become malnourished.

Hobson locked up the children in a closet for days on end without access to food, water, or a bathroom, authorities previously revealed. Furthermore, it was found she also hit them with clothes hangers and forced them to take ice baths as a form of punishment.

The children were seen performing in a series of scripted adventures on YouTube, involving Nerf battles and concluding with them asking viewers to 'like and subscribe' the videos. According to some estimates, the channel could have taken in more than $2.5 million in total ad revenue.

Authorities raided Hobson's residence to find one hungry child who wouldn't accept a bag of chips offered to her fearing her mother would smell them on her breath. Speaking to police, the children revealed how Hobson beat and locked them up if they failed to perform as per her demands in the videos.

According to investigators, the children had not been in education for years after they were taken out of school so they could keep performing in the video series.

Furthermore, Hobson also used pepper spray on the kids' faces and bodies if they forgot their lines or did not comply with her demands. "I either get beat with a hanger or belt...or a brush...or get pepper-sprayed from head to toe," one of the kids told officers in a probable cause statement. 

On March 13, Hobson's biological daughter, who is an adult, alerted authorities of the abuse and urged them to pay a visit to Hobson's residence in Maricopa, south of Phoenix.

The seven children were subsequently removed from Hobson's custody by the Arizona Department of Child Safety. They are now in foster care or group homes. YouTube took down Hobson's channel soon after the charges surfaced, saying it violated the company's guidelines.