true crime

Machelle Hobson made millions from her 'perfect' family. The truth was more sinister.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of child abuse that may be distressing to some readers.

In 2012, mother of seven, Machelle Hobson posted the first video to her brand new YouTube Channel, Fantastic Adventures

It was a hit, and the timing was perfect, with family YouTube channels growing in popularity. 

In the videos, Hobson's seven adopted children, aged between six and 15, engage in a variety of fun activities, such as nerf battles, superhero role play, and cookie capers. The videos, which always ended with the children asking viewers to like and subscribe, amassed more than 250,000 million views and garnered around 800,000 subscribers. 

Watch the trailer for True Crime Conversations. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

According to estimates, the channel likely brought in more than $2.5 million in advertising dollars, with around half going to Hobson. 

"We're Fantastic Adventures," the channel description said. "We're a family that's full of unique and special kids! We started making these videos for fun, but fell in love with making them and now do it every week for you guys!"

But the reality was far more sinister than the false utopia projected online.

The dark side of Fantastic Adventures

In 2015, Hobson's eldest biological daughter made a disturbing allegation, telling police her adoptive sister was being abused by their mother, who forced the children to film videos via cruel methods. 


"The abuse was described as being pepper sprayed, left in a locked closet for days at a time with no food, water or restroom, and [she] stated her six other siblings [were] being punished in the same manner," police said at the time. 

Police did a welfare check and discovered a child in an unlocked closet, wearing only a pull-up. Six others appeared malnourished with dark rings under their eyes. They were also underweight and pale. 

When speaking with the officers, one of the children said they were scared to eat a packet of chips, because they didn't want their mother to "smell chips on their breath".

Investigators concluded 48-year-old Hobson had orchestrated the money-making YouTube enterprise, projecting a happy family in public, while abusing the children in private. 

As well as starving them and shutting them in a tiled closet for days at a time without access to a bathroom, Hobson was accused of spraying a child's genitals with pepper spray, applying a lighter or stun gun to a child's genitals, arm or other body parts, and causing the children to become malnourished.

She was also accused of hitting them with clothes hangers and making them take ice baths as punishment for what she perceived to be insufficient performances. 

Machelle Hobson. Image: Police/YouTube.


Never held accountable. 

In 2019 Hobson was arrested and charged with 24 counts of child abuse, five counts of kidnapping and one count of aggravated assault. Her two adult sons were also charged, with failing to report child abuse. 

She pleaded not guilty and was remanded in custody, but before she could face trial, Hobson suffered a brain injury, and died a few weeks later. 

The charges against Hobson's sons were dropped, but in 2023, they were charged with multiple counts of sexual misconduct with minors. 

For her adoptive children, they say that while justice wasn't achieved, they're thankful to be safe from Hobson.

"She's such an evil mom," said one adopted daughter. "I want all my brothers and sisters to be in a safe home."

Recently, documents revealed that the Arizona Department of Child Safety was told 11 times between 2011 and 2019 about alleged abuse, neglect, and maltreatment involving Hobson and her children.


Teachers, daycare workers, older siblings, and even the kids themselves told case workers and the hotline, that the children were not safe. Every single time the agency reportedly found the details "unsubstantiated".

The children's attorney and prosecutor said in regards to Hobson's death, that it was bittersweet news.

"When she died, there was a small measure of relief, because I knew I wasn't going to have to put these kids on the stand, they weren't going to have to disclose the most intimate and horrific things that ever happened to them," he noted.

"But we also wanted to hold her accountable. I wanted 12 jurors to look at her and say, 'You did this, you did this.' And then I wanted a judge to say, 'And you're going to spend every waking moment of the rest of your life behind bars for what you did to those kids'."

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. 

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a Queensland-based organisation that helps women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence. If you would like to support their mission to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most, you can donate here.

If this brings up any issues for you, contact Bravehearts, an organisation dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse, on 1800 272 831.

Feature Image: YouTube