MARICOPA, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- A Maricopa, Arizona woman is accused of abusing seven adopted children in her home, including using pepper spray on them and locking them in a closet.


On March 13, Maricopa police became aware of the alleged child abuse after Machelle Hobson's 19-year-old daughter reported the allegations to officers at the Maricopa Police Department. She told officers children in the house were pepper sprayed and left in a locked closet for days with no food, water or bathroom. 


When officers checked on the house, a child was found in an unlocked closet, which had a locking mechanism, wearing only a diaper.

At the same time, officers came in contact with six other children who appeared to be malnourished and underweight. Court paperwork indicates the children told officers they were thirsty and hungry.

While officers were speaking with one of the children, he drank three bottles of water within 20 minutes. He told officers he was pepper sprayed several times as punishment by Hobson.

[RELATED: Scottsdale couple who filmed YouTube videos with allegedly abused kids 'in shock']

[VIDEO: Maricopa mom accused of abusing 7 adoptive children]

Another child told officers she was extremely hungry and thirsty. Maricopa police officers gave her a bag of chips. According to police, the girl was scared to eat because she did not want her mom to smell chips on her breath.

On March 13, Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) removed seven children from Hobson's custody.

[RELATED: Arizona woman accused of child abuse was on pace to make $1 million]


A search warrant was eventually granted to search the house. Authorities found two cans of pepper spray in Hobson's room. The closet, where the children were reportedly held in, was located in the mother’s master bedroom with a deadbolt lock and tile floor. There were no windows, furniture, clothes or toys in the closet.

DCS assisted in making sure all of the children were interviewed and had a physical exam. One of the children told investigators that Hobson kept her locked in a closet for “multiple days at a time with no food, water or restroom.” She went on to say Hobson would pepper spray all of the children, spank them, and force them to take ice baths. When children resisted ice baths, Hobson would reportedly force their head underwater and make them stand in the corner with their arms above their head.

According to court documents, Hobson also touched one of the children inappropriately several times and sprayed pepper spray in the vagina of one of the girls. The girl told investigators she was in pain for four to five days.


All of the children participated in their mom’s YouTube channel, where she has over 700,000 followers with over 242 million video views.

The videos showed the adopted children in different scenarios. Court paperwork indicated if the children did not want to be in the videos or did not recall their lines, they would be punished.

The children told investigators they were taken out of school to perform in the videos. They told police they have not been in school for “years.”

YouTube confirmed the channel was demonetized once they were made aware of the arrest. They also said with allegations so serious in nature, they would terminate the channel immediately upon conviction, guilty plea, etc.


On March 15, Hobson and her two adult sons, Logan and Ryan Hackney were arrested at their home. Logan and Ryan reportedly admitted to knowing about the child abuse. Ryan would reportedly sneak food into the closet so the juveniles could eat.

The mother told police her closet was never used for punishment, denied using pepper spray and ice baths. She told police she only used standing in a corner, spankings and being grounded as forms of punishments.

Logan and Ryan Hackney were booked into Pinal County Jail for seven counts of failing to report abuse of a minor.

The mother was booked into jail for two counts of molestation of a child, seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and five counts of child neglect.

One of Hobson's neighbors told us that he thought it was strange that the children never got to play with other kids.

"We've met them," said neighbor Bruno Schlueter. "I took my children down there to introduce them to their children. My children wanted to play with them but whenever my children wanted to play down there, they never got to play."

"I never really understood why they couldn’t play," continued Schlueter. "I just assumed they didn’t have any interest playing with my kids."

Schlueter says his kids knew about the family's YouTube videos. 

"We learned they did YouTube videos, which was pretty exciting," said Schlueter. "My children thought that was pretty exciting; they started watching the videos."

The details about the alleged abuse at the home have shocked Schlueter, who said he had no idea.

"I'm blown away that was going on down there," said Schlueter. "I have six kids myself and I can't even imagine doing something like that happening to these poor kids. I just wish I would’ve been able to pick up on that."

Note: Pinal County Superior Court clarified Machelle Hobson's last name. Pinal County Sheriff's Office mistakenly had her last name as Hackney.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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(12) comments

Just Mee

Wheres my post?

Just Mee

Shame on all parties involved including DCS , this makes me sick! I dont know what form of punishment would be enough to say that Justice was served. These poor children and the trauma they have gone thru and so much more. D.C.S is just as GUILTY! My children were sexually abused , 3 boys, in the group home they were placed in and D.C.S not only kept it hidden for almst a year but tried to lie about it when I was informed and confronted them. The emotional, mental damage that any child has from incidents like these is heartbreaking and awful especially when the children dont get the proper help and support to overcome such trauma. I wish the there was more awareness for the ongoing issues that are still being swept under the rug and or being looked over with D.C.S!!! The may have changed there name to FOOL many but they are still evil, corrupt, and Child Abductors themself!!!! I mean come on these children had not been in school for some time and for the supposeably NEW director who made his long heartless and only excuseing DCS wrong doing of a statement not once did speak about praying for all the innocent children other than how the should speak up and not be afraid, HELLO HOW CAN THEY? , WHEN THE ONES WHO PUT THEM IN THESE PLACES THEMSELVES CANT BE TRUSTED!! Speaking from experience , THERE IS FAR MORE THAT MEETS THE EYE! Arizona wake up! We need to help save our children you want to seek Justice? How about revieling the Truth abut what is happening with the innocence of thousands and thousands of our children across the state! And actually putting a stop to it not just a New Name and faces! DCS!!!! If only all the stories were made New headlines, this is just one awful sad preventable case and it shouldnt still keep happening!

Save Our Children Arizona! Our Jewels......


So much of our money is spent on pond scum, but why? Why do we keep animals like this alive? Personally I think she should be locked in a closet with no food or water till she dies. That's all I'd say she's worth. For the children I hope they can get the help they need to overcome this.


Death is too easy for anyone involved in abusing or exploiting these or any kids. What is wrong with people today?


I am heartbroken for the children who would do something like this? I know Machelle and this is not a shock at all what is a shock is that the State of AZ and CPS allowed her to care for foster children and then adopt. I am thankful for her daughter calling the police and turning her in. I pray that they lock her up and lose the key and that the children are placed in a good loving home and are allowed to be children and go to school. Every child is a gift if you are not a person that can love and care for a child then WALK AWAY don't hurt them because your the lowest form of a person......


Maybe since you knew , you could of done some reporting yourself. But you also chose to turn a blind eye, we could do with fewer of you as well.

Halal Bacon

This vermin does not deserve 10 or 20 years in prison. If she gets that time, the children she abused will grow up, and end up paying taxes to support this evil creature. She should be put to death for what she's done. Barring that, put her in with the general population and make sure they know why she's there.

JF Conlon

This article states that the children were ADOPTED by this pond scum. That's quite a bit different than being fostered, isn't it? Either way, she should have never been in charge of children . . .even her birth children. The 'system' really broke down in all sorts of ways.


I hope the mental damage isn't irreversible for these children. Bravo to the daughter for doing the right thing and having the police show up. As for the foster mom, if this is all true, she needs a couple decades in prison. This one can't be a wrist slap.


My heart hurts for these poor children. I will be honest, much more comes to my mind after reading this story besides how evil this pathetic excuse for a female is. We have to wonder how long this female and the other adults living in home have been fostering children. Sadly, many never disclose abuse, and it sounds like there are likely more children who’ve dealt with these terrible experiences. Also, the system... Most people are sad to find out how overwhelmed and understaffed the child welfare systems are. However, it would appear there were many potential red flags which should have been spotted by any of the various agencies who are responsible for checking on foster kids. For instance, all the social media activity? Seriously? Foster kids should never be taped and put online like some freak show. I believe this matter deserves a separate investigation for a number of issues to figure out why all the different professionals never figured out something was wrong. Has the State increased funding for the overburdened child welfare system in Arizona? Cases like these are inexcusable.


She is the lowest form of scum of the earth.


So much evil...

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