Christian Longo Pleads Guilty To Killing Wife, Daughter
February 14, 2003
By KOMO Staff & News Services
NEWPORT, ORE. - Christian Longo pleaded guilty Friday to killing his wife and 2-year-old daughter, but pleaded innocent in the deaths of his two other children.
At a plea hearing, Longo said he killed his wife, 34-year-old MaryJane and daughter Madison, on the Oregon coast in December 2001.
At the same hearing, however, Longo pleaded innocent in the deaths 4-year-old Zachery and 3-year-old Sadie Ann. A trial on those charges is scheduled to begin March 10.
Longo entered the plea after Judge Robert Huckleberry amended the three counts to remove the names of Zachery and Sadie Ann from the indictment.
Longo brushed a tear from his eye as he admitted to killing his daughter and his lips were taut and trembling.
Huckleberry said the same jury will handle Longo's sentencing in the deaths of his daughter and wife and hear the case against him in the deaths of Zachery and Sadie Ann.
The judge told Longo he can still receive the death penalty for the deaths of his wife and daughter, as well as for the deaths of the two older children.
Longo's plea was the latest development in a case that has transfixed Oregon since the first body washed up off the Oregon coast in mid-December 2001.
The case unfolded in rapid succession around Christmastime, as sheriff's deputies found bodies weighted with rocks in shallow coastal waters and Longo fled Oregon, leaving behind a tangle of lies and women's and children's clothes in a dumpster.
The first body to float ashore in Lint Slough was Zachery on Dec. 19. The next grim discovery was the body of Sadie inside a sleeping bag, with a weighted floral-print pillow case tied to her ankle.
Even as a large-scale investigation picked up, Longo reported for work at a Starbucks in a Fred Meyer store in Newport, attended a holiday pizza party and met a co-worker for lunch.
But Longo had fled the Oregon coast by the time sheriff divers plucked the bodies of MaryJane and the youngest child, Madison, from the Newport Marina on Dec. 27, stuffed in two large, dark green suitcases.
Longo traveled first to San Francisco, then to Mexico on a ticket bought with a stolen credit card number.
He snorkeled and partied in Tulum, a beach resort near Cancun, and reportedly lived with a German woman who was traveling on holiday - and apparently unaware of Longo's recent past.
Longo told tourists he worked as a travel journalist who wrote under the byline "Mike Finklestein."
A tip from a Canadian tourist prompted his arrest Jan. 13, 2002, by FBI agent Daniel Clegg and Mexican federal police.
On a flight to Houston, Longo confessed to killing his family, Clegg testified later in court, but declined to discuss details of how he did it. Clegg said Longo told him: "I sent them to a better place."
"Mr. Longo openly admitted he killed his wife and three small children," Clegg said in a court document.
The murders were the worst crime in Lincoln County in more than a decade.
Longo's court-appointed attorney, Ken Hadley, filed more than 20 pretrial motions, questioning the details of Longo's arrest, extradition from Mexico and indictment and requesting a change of venue.
Judge Huckleberry dismissed most of the defense requests, including the change of venue.
The Longos reached Oregon last fall after fleeing a trail of bad checks and fraud convictions stretching back to Michigan. In 2000, the Jehovah's Witness Church expelled Longo after he was convicted for passing $30,000 in bad checks.
The Longos were married in 1993 in Ann Arbor, Mich. MaryJane managed a doctor's office and worked in the University of Michigan dental school before staying home to raise the children.