A well-respected California college employee and her older brother have been identified as the two people who were stabbed to death in a brutal attack on Monday, which police say was carried out by the woman’s grown son and was witnessed by her colleague live on a Zoom call.
The double homicide took place at around 2.45pm in the Altadena neighborhood, with Dr Carol Brown, 67, and her brother, 69-year-old Kenneth Preston, being pronounced dead at the scene and their car reported missing.
Brown’s son, Robert Cotton, 32, was arrested by police an hour later when he returned to the scene of the crime in his family’s Lexus SUV.
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Dr Carol Brown, 67 (left), a veteran educator, was fatally stabbed inside her Altadena, California, home along with her brother. Her eldest son, Robert Cotton, 32 (right), was arrested at the scene and charged with two counts of murder
Brown was attacked at her home on Marengo Avenue during a Zoom call with her colleague
Brown, who worked as a coordinator of Pasadena City College’s Black STEM Program, was on a Zoom call when the attack started, and her frantic colleague dialed 911 thinking that a kidnapping was happening when the woman was dragged off the screen.
‘The lady was still talking on the Zoom when the male was dragged out of the house,’ Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Lt. Barry Hall told KCAL.
‘That alerted her and then the suspect went inside and attacked her.’
When deputies arrived at the scene in the 3100 block of North Marengo Avenue, they found Preston dead from multiple stab wounds in the driveway.
His sister was discovered suffering from stab wounds inside the house and was pronounced dead.
Cotton was taken into custosy after he returned to the scene of the crime in his family’s stolen Lexus SUV
Police believe Cotton first attacked his uncle while his mother was on the Zoom call, then stabbed Brown.
The woman’s co-worker saw her being dragged away by a man but did not witness the stabbing, according to police.
A knife that may have been used during the attack was recovered at the scene.
Police arrested Cotton after he arrived at the residence in the Lexus SUV belonging to one of the victims, an hour after deputies were called.
Cotton, who identified himself as a resident of the home, was charged with two counts of murder and ordered held in the county jail on $2million bail. He was scheduled to be arraigned in Pasadena Superior Court on Thursday.
‘We just can’t believe it,’ neighbor Darlene Thomas told KCAL. ‘We cannot believe it. We are in total shock.’
Deputies responded to a report of a potential ‘kidnapping in progress’ after Brown’s colleague saw her being dragged off screen during a Zoom call
No motive has been given for the attack, which started with Preston’s stabbing and was followed by his sister’s killing
The motive for the murders remains unknown.
In a Facebook post, Pasadena City College President and Superintendent Erika Endrijonas described Brown’s death as a ‘terrible loss.’
Brown, a mother of three grown children, had worked at Pasadena City College for about two decades in various capacities, including starting a shelter for homeless students and offering assistance to students who had gone through the foster care system, reported Pasadena Star News.
‘So many memories about Carol and the amazing work that she did with so many of our students and the incredible spirit she had that was so positive, uplifting and helpful,’ Dr. Cynthia Olivo, vice president of student services, told KCAL.
This is not the first time someone has been attacked or killed while on a Zoom call since the pandemic began.
A photo on Brown’s Facebook page shows her two sons and daughter (center)
Brown, had worked at Pasadena City College for about two decades in various capacities, most recently as coordinator of the Black STEM Program
In May, 72-year-old Dwight Powers of Amityville, New York was on a Zoom call for Alcoholics Anonymous when he was allegedly stabbed to death by his son, Thomas Scully-Powers.
Scully-Powers appeared naked on the Zoom feed after the slaying and evaded cops after fleeing through a window before they caught up to him.
Other people on the Zoom did not realize something was off until Powers fell during the feed, WABC reports.
Scully-Powers was charged with 2nd-degree murder.