Arizona woman behind family YouTube channel dies before trial for allegedly abusing 7 adopted children

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MARICOPA, Ariz. — A mother accused of starving and hurting her seven adopted children behind the scenes of the family's YouTube channel died before ever facing trial, according to the Washington Post. 

Maricopa police revealed Machelle Hobson, 48, who court documents previously identified as Machelle Hackney, died of natural causes Tuesday at a hospital in Arizona.

Health issues brought her to a hospital, and, in August, her attorneys were allowed 15 months to get her healthy enough to stand trial.

Her family rose to Internet stardom through the family comedy YouTube channel "Fantastic Adventures," but the adoptive mother of seven faced charges as police unraveled a horrific child abuse case, according to the Washington Post.

On March 20, Hobson was arrested in Maricopa, Arizona, and charged with molestation of a child, child abuse, unlawful imprisonment and child neglect among other charges. She later pleaded not guilty.

The mother ran the YouTube channel which drew in more than 800,000 subscribers. The videos showed the kids engaging in Nerf gun battles or acting in pretend scenarios and stories.

Behind the scenes, however, the children described a house of horrors.

The case began to unfold when Hobsons's adult, biological daughter contacted authorities on March 13, the Washington Post reports.

When police made a welfare check, they reported that the seven adopted children, ranging in ages from 6 to 15, looked malnourished, underweight and pale.

One child quickly drank down three 16-ounce bottles of water in about 20 minutes.

Another child was hesitant to eat a bag of chips, saying that their mother might be able to smell the food on her breath.

Another said she was not allowed to eat for the previous two days.

The children said that they had been out of school for several years to focus on the videos, which police believe are the source of the abuse, according to the Post.

Up until Hobson's arrest, the channel provided an income for the family, though it is unclear exactly how much the successful channel brought in.

The kids said the woman would punish them for forgetting their lines or not performing as they were told.

The children told child safety officials that they had been pepper-sprayed on their faces and genitals. They were locked in a closet for up to a week and sometimes starved.

They say Hobson beat them with belts, brushes and hangers and, on multiple occasions, pinched a boy's genitals until he bled.

They were forced to take ice baths and to stand with their arms raised over their heads all day long.

The Department of Child Safety ultimately removed the children from the mother's custody.

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