Kidnapping witnessed on Zoom call leads to discovery of 2 bodies in California

ALTADENA, Calif. — A California man was arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing his mother and uncle at their home on Monday after a colleague participating in a Zoom call with the woman witnessed the attack and called 911, authorities said.

>> Read more trending news

Robert Cotton, 32, of Altadena, was charged with two counts of murder, the Altadena Police Department said in a news release.

According to police, the bodies of Carol Brown, 67, a Pasadena City College administrator and educator, and her brother, Kenneth Preston, 69, were discovered by deputies, the Pasadena Star-News reported.

Brown was participating in a Zoom call with other college employees when part of the incident was caught on camera, Sheriff’s Lt. Barry Hall, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, told the newspaper.

The colleague did not see either stabbing, Hall said.

“When (deputies) arrived, they found an elderly male deceased in the driveway,” Hall told reporters. “They checked inside of (the) house and found an elderly female dead.

“The person that the lady was still talking to on the Zoom with when the male was dragged out of the house, that alerted her and the suspect went inside and attacked her.”

It was unclear what Cotton’s relationship was to the victims, NBC News reported.

Neighbors of the victims said they were stunned.

We are beyond sad to have lost an incredible person--Dr. Carol Brown was a true advocate and caring educator for our...

Posted by Cynthia Olivo on Tuesday, March 23, 2021

“We just can’t believe it,” Darlene Thomas told KCBS. “We cannot believe it. We are in total shock.”

“It just shows how quick your reality can change in a snap, you know?” another neighbor, Ailyne Charles, told KNBC. “I’m at tennis having fun. Come home, this is happening.”

A knife was found at the scene, Hall said. Deputies learned that one of the three vehicles at the home, a Lexus, was missing. Cotton hid the vehicle in the neighborhood, then walked up to the home, the Star-News reported.

Cotton was arrested, and bail was set at $2 million, the newspaper reported.

Erika Endrijonas, college president and superintendent at Pasadena Community College, said in a statement that the school had “suffered a terrible loss.”

Brown worked for nearly two decades at Pasadena City College in various departments, including financial aid and working with students who had gone through the foster care system, according to Cynthia Olivo, a student services official at the school.

“We grieve with her family and we hold them in our hearts as we reflect on her life, mourn her loss, and carry on her legacy through our actions,” Olivo wrote in a Facebook post.

Cotton is scheduled to appear in Pasadena Superior Court on Thursday, according to the Star-News.