Picture of a knife, not the one in story.
Example of a knife. Photo via Pixabay

A murder suspect was charged Wednesday with fatally stabbing his mother and uncle at their Altadena home while she was on a Zoom call with colleagues from Pasadena City College — one of whom witnessed part of the attack.

Robert Cotton, 32, is set to be arraigned Thursday at the Pasadena courthouse on double murder charges stemming from the Monday afternoon killings of Carol Anne Brown, 67, and her brother, Kenneth Wayne Preston, 69.

The charges include an allegation that he personally used a knife in the commission of the crime.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies from the Altadena Station went to a residence in the 3100 block of North Marengo Avenue about 2:45 p.m. Monday on a report of a possible kidnapping in progress, Deputy Tracy Koerner said.

Brown, a Pasadena City College employee, was in her living room on a Zoom call with a colleague who saw part of the attack on Preston and called 911, according to sheriff’s Lt. Barry Hall, who said the tipster saw a man dragging another man into the living room but did not see either victim being stabbed.

When deputies arrived, they found Preston, who had been stabbed several times, dead in the driveway and Brown dead inside the home and learned a Lexus SUV belonging to one of the victims was missing from the residence.

While investigators were canvassing the crime scene, Cotton showed up on foot and identified himself as a resident of the home, sheriff’s officials said. He had allegedly ditched the Lexus in the neighborhood.

A motive for the stabbings was unknown.

Pasadena City College President-Superintendent Erika Endrijonas posted a message on the school’s social media site in which she wrote that “our PCC family suffered a terrible loss. Dr. Carol Brown, who most recently served as a co-coordinator of the Black STEM program, was the victim of a violent crime where she and her brother lost their lives. The attack did not occur on the campus. The incident occurred during a remote conference call with other college employees.”

Endrijonas said counseling services were being made available to help her colleagues cope with the tragedy.

“More information about how we can come together in response to this tragedy and remember Carol will be forthcoming,” she said Tuesday. “I am completely shocked and horrified by what has happened.”

Cotton has remained behind bars since his arrest, jail records show.

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