Machelle Hobson was accused of abusing seven of her children. She died in hospital yesterday morning
Machelle Hobson pleaded not guilty to charges she beat, starved, pepper sprayed and even locked her seven children to make them take part in clips for her Fantastic Adventures channel.
The 48-year-old was due to face a trial on 24 counts of child abuse, five counts of kidnapping and one count of aggravated assault.
But she died at hospital in Scottsdale yesterday morning, Ricardo Alvarado, a spokesman for Maricopa Police Department said.
No details were given of Hobson’s cause of death, according to AZCentral.com.
Hobson, who goes by her maiden name but is also known as Hackney, operated the YouTube channel Fantastic Adventures, which had 800,000 subscribers and more than 250 million total views.
She 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 the children to become malnourished.
Authorities previously said Hobson locked up the children in a closet for days without food, water or access to a bathroom.
Police say Machelle Hobson used cruel methods to force her adopted children (above) to perform in YouTube videos, including forced ice baths and pepper spraying their genitals
The videos featured the children (above in a clip) perform in whimsical scripted scenarios and Nerf battles for the YouTube channel that had 250 million views
She was also alleged to have hit them with a clothes hangers and made them take ice baths.
The child’s ages ranged from six to 15, and they were seen performing in a variety of whimsical scripted adventures often involving Nerf battles and ending with the children facing the camera and asking viewers to ‘like and subscribe’.
The channel could have taken in roughly $2.5 million in total ad revenue, according to some estimates, of which YouTube would have typically kept $1.125 million and the rest potentially going to Hobson.
When police raided the home one hungry child was found to be fearful of eating a bag of chips that police gave her because she did not want Hobson to smell them on her breath.
The adopted children told police that Hobson beat and locked them up if they failed to remember their lines or perform as demanded in the videos.
Investigators also said the children were taken out of school so they could keep filming the video series and had not been in education for years.
The adopted children told police that Hobson beat and locked them up if they failed to remember their lines or perform as demanded in the videos
Hobson’s two adult biological sons, Ryan (left) and Logan (right) Hackney, were initially charged with seven counts of failing to report child abuse, but the charges were later dropped
Hackney used pepper spray on the kids’ faces and bodies, the children told police.
‘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 police in a probable cause statement.
Hobson’s biological daughter, who is an adult, alerted police of the abuse on March 13, prompting officers to visit Hobson’s home in the city of Maricopa, about 35 miles south of Phoenix.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety removed the seven children from Hobson’s custody and they’re now in foster or group homes.
YouTube has since terminated Hobson’s channel, which featured skits about children stealing cookies or a boy with superpowers, after determining the channel violated its guidelines.
Her two biological sons, who were arrested over the allegations, will not be charged in the case, police later confirmed.
Logan and Ryan Hackney were arrested soon after the allegations came to light for allegedly failing to report their mother’s abusive behavior toward five of her seven adopted children.