A father was arrested after his 12-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter were found slain in their Lancaster home after a report of a gas leak Friday, officials said.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to the 45000 block of Century Circle about 7:50 a.m. for a possible gas leak and found the children dead inside. They notified the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who responded and secured the area, officials said in a news release.
The victims appeared to have suffered “some type of a sharp trauma” from “either a stabbing or slicing device,” said sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean.
Officials have not released their names.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told the Los Angeles Times that both victims were decapitated, calling the incident “pretty brutal.”
A neighbor said a stench had been coming from the home for days, and he remembers recently hearing screams coming from the residence.
“It’s been going through my head,” he said. “Is there something I could have done? Should I maybe have reported it earlier?”
A man, woman and two other children who were also at the location were questioned by homicide investigators, officials said. One of the adults was taken to a hospital with breathing difficulties.
Deputies later said they arrested 34-year-old Maurice Taylor Sr. on suspicion of murder. He was being held at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station on $2 million bail, authorities said.
Parris told the Times he believes the gruesome deaths are related to the stress of the pandemic.
“The social fabric of the country and the world has been shredded, and we are starting to see the aftermath,” he said. “What I’m seeing is more and more people feeling desperate, and that can only have one result.”
Anyone with information can call the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500, or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-222-TIPS (8477).