This article appeared in our local paper, the Salem Statesman Journal, this morning:
Jury sentences Longo to death
The convicted killer weeps and praises his wife after the verdict.
The Associated Press
April 17, 2003
NEWPORT — After being sentenced to his death, Christian Longo was finally able to speak the truth.
In a 23-minute post-verdict statement to his former sisters-in-law, Longo stopped short of recanting his earlier testimony that his wife, MaryJane, was responsible for the deaths of their two older children.
But at several points Wednesday he seemed to accept responsibility for killing his wife and three children and dumping their bodies into the murky waters off the Oregon Coast at Christmastime of 2001.
“We tried so hard to protect our kids from everything,” he said. “It turns out that I’m the one the family needed protection from.”
Speaking directly to MaryJane’s sister, Sally Clark, Longo said he had been, “selfish to sit on the stand for three days, to talk about negative aspects of MaryJane that in many cases weren’t true.”
“I feel remorse, which is something that I haven’t felt before,” Longo added. “My acts are something that I can’t blame anyone else for. I won’t pretend that I’m cured or that I’m walking a straight and narrow path, but I will say that this has been a tremendous wake-up call if nothing else.”
The call was delivered by the same Lincoln County jury that convicted him for the murder of his two older children, 4-year-old Zachery and 3-year-old Sadie. Longo had previously pleaded guilty to strangling MaryJane and their youngest daughter, 2-year-old Madison.
Before formally imposing the death sentence, Judge Robert Huckleberry told Longo that it was “impossible, in my judgment for you ... to either atone for these crimes or expect absolution.
“The facts of this case reach a level of perfidy beyond anything I have ever experienced,” Huckleberry said.
Huckleberry also said Longo lied about his wife killing the couple’s two older children, but “the jury saw through it, just as I saw through it, and they held you accountable.”
At that, the judge formally imposed the death sentence on Longo. Sheriff’s deputies then handcuffed Longo’s hands behind him and led him out of the courtroom. He now becomes the 27th convicted murderer on Oregon’s death row.
During the trial, prosecutors described Longo as a cold-hearted man with a taste for fine wine and cars the family could not afford. They said he killed his family so he could enjoy a more uninhibited lifestyle.
The Lincoln County jury of eight women and four men deliberated more than six hours before recommending that Longo be executed by lethal injection.
After the verdict, MaryJane’s sister read a prepared statement to the court in a steady voice.
“It was most disturbing to hear MaryJane’s good name dirtied by one of the people she loved the most,” Clark said.
“MaryJane was a very private person. It hurt to hear the details of her life made public, and her love for her children questioned. The only thing she is guilty of is trying to be a good wife and mother.”
MaryJane’s other sister, Penny Dupuie, also delivered a post-verdict statement in which she choked back tears as she said the death penalty is a fitting sentence for Longo.
“Chris deserves his punishment and so much more and yet it will never be enough,” Dupuie said. “He murdered and threw away those that he should have protected and cherished.”
Longo’s address to the court was mainly a rambling, repeated apology that came close to an open admission of his guilt.
“I know I will never be able to do anything that is going to bring anybody back,” Longo said. “I know that you have cried, the community has cried, and wondered how anyone, much less a dad could do anything so horrible. I can’t answer that.”
Longo’s mother, Joy Longo, left the courtroom in tears after the sentencing. Longo’s adoptive father, Joe Longo, called the slayings “unspeakable” crimes, but said he still loves his son and hopes he will repent.
“We hope this will be a turn for the better for him,” Joe Longo said.
Longo and his wife and children moved to Oregon from Michigan in 2001, leaving behind a string of bad checks and forgery charges.
The bodies of MaryJane and her children were discovered at the end of December 2001 in shallow coastal inlets over a one-week period.
Longo fled to Mexico after the murders, where the FBI caught him at a beach resort in Tulum.