Former YouTube star accused of abusing her adopted kids dies
Phoenix - An Arizona woman accused of abusing her adopted children who starred on her popular YouTube channel has died, authorities said Wednesday.
Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said Wednesday that Machelle Hobson died Tuesday at a Phoenix-area hospital. Alvarado had no information on the circumstances of Hobson’s death.
Hobson was accused of using pepper spray on a child’s genitals, applying a lighter or stun gun to a victim’s genitals, arm or other body parts and causing them to suffer malnourishment.
Authorities have said Hobson locked up children in a closet for days without food, water or access to a bathroom.
YouTube terminated Hobson’s channel after determining the channel violated its guidelines.
Episodes featured skits about children stealing cookies and a boy with superpowers.
A spokeswoman for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, the agency prosecuting Hobson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
KNXV-TV reported that the office planned to wait for an official death certificate before dismissing charges against Hobson but would pursue her assets, including “more than $100 000 in cash” that would go to her children now in state custody.
A judge in August declared Hobson incompetent to stand trial, the Arizona Republic reported. Hobson’s criminal case was on hold while authorities worked to restore Hobson to competency to stand trial.
Police have said the children were taken out of school so they could keep filming the video series and hadn’t been back for years.
Hobson’s biological daughter, who is an adult, alerted police of the abuse, prompting officers to visit Hobson’s home in the city of Maricopa, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Phoenix.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety removed the children from the home.