Father charged in decapitation of son, daughter in Lancaster

A man was charged on Tuesday with murdering his 12-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter -- who were decapitated -- in Lancaster last week.  

Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., a 34-year-old personal trainer, was ordered to be held in lieu of $4.2 million bail while awaiting arraignment Dec. 21 in a Lancaster courtroom on two felony counts each of murder and child abuse under circumstances likely to cause great bodily injury or death.  

He could face up to 57 years and four months to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.  

The children's deaths were reported at 7:50 a.m. Friday in the family's home in the 45000 block of Century Circle in Lancaster, according to sheriff's Deputy Eric Ortiz, who said both children had apparent "lacerations and stab wounds."

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The victims were identified by the Los Angeles County coroner's office as Maurice Taylor Jr., 12, and Malaka Taylor, 13.  

The District Attorney's Office confirmed that the children had been decapitated.  

A woman -- presumably the mother of the victims -- and two other children at the home were questioned by homicide detectives, according to the sheriff's department.

The child abuse charges pertain to those boys, ages 8 and9.   Taylor worked at a physical therapy center in Santa Monica but had been conducting training sessions via Zoom due to the coronavirus 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 victims.