MARICOPA — A Maricopa woman who became nationally known for abusing her adopted children in making social media videos has died, police said.

Machelle Hobson, 48, who was accused of 29 counts of child abuse after she allegedly punished her adopted children while making episodes for a YouTube channel known as “Fantastic Adventures,” died at a hospital in Scottsdale Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., Ricardo Alvarado, public information officer for the Maricopa Police Department, said.

Alvarado had no information on the circumstances of Hobson’s death.

Scottsdale police have ruled Hobson's death natural. Officer Kevin Watts said Wednesday there is no indication of a crime in connection her death at a Scottsdale hospital.

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. Meanwhile, episodes featured skits about children stealing cookies and a boy with superpowers.

While police reports indicate Hobson’s two older sons may have known about the abuse, they have not been charged. Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer said he was not confident enough in a reasonable likelihood of conviction on any charges against her sons, although that could change if his office received new information in follow-up investigations.

Alvarado confirmed that the Maricopa Police have been working with the county attorney's office on the investigation into the brother's role in the case since Hobson's initial arrest.

The case received national attention, in no small part because of the YouTube channel Hobson ran, which featured adventure videos starring the children she allegedly abused. It was a popular channel with more than 800,000 subscribers and videos that were viewed more than 200 million times. The channel reportedly generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hobson.

YouTube terminated Hobson's channel after determining the channel violated its guidelines.

Due to extreme health issues, was transported from the Pinal County Adult Detention Center to an area hospital on May 25, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Based on her diagnosis, the decision was made by the PCSO and the Pinal County Attorney's Office to release Hobson from custody on June 12.

On Aug. 28, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Delia Neal declared Hobson incompetent to stand trial but restorable.

Hobson was not present in court, and defense attorney Josh Wallace said at the time she was at a medical facility where she had been held since being removed from jail for health reasons.

Her condition was not made public.


Jim Headley is a reporter covering breaking news, crime and justice around Pinal County. He can be reached at