Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Trials of Christian Longo

The Unthinkable

Later that same day, December 19, 2001, 4-year-old Zachery's body floated up in Lint Slough. After Sadie's body was found, police distributed posters with the children's retouched photographs, and the Longos' Newport babysitter immediately recognized the children. She and her husband went to the morgue and identified the two Longo children. The autopsy report said that the cause of death was "consistent with drowning."

When police went to the Longos' condominium, they found it empty.

The first people the police wanted to question were the parents, but they were not to be found. And where was the baby?

Dr. J. Reid Meloy
Dr. J. Reid Meloy

J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist and author of The Psychopathic Mind and Violent Attachments, says that family murders occur as the result of a build-up of anger and frustration, which threatens to crush the father's already-fragile ego. They can't take failure or humiliation. With no way to relieve stress, they let the frustration and anger build until it explodes into violence. A defenseless family is usually an easy target and convenient outlet for the rage. Once it's over, these fathers, if they don't also kill themselves, often feel much better.

Book cover: The-Psychopathic Mind
Book cover: The-Psychopathic Mind

Two days after Christmas, divers raised two dark green suitcases from Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon, mere yards from the Longos' expensive apartment at The Landing. In one was the body of 110-pound MaryJane Longo, 34, forced into a fetal position and crammed into the suitcase. She had suffered a blunt trauma to the head and had been strangled. In the other was 2-year-old Madison, wearing only a diaper. She, too, had been strangled.

Book cover: Violent Attachments
Book cover: Violent Attachments

That same day, Christian Longo boarded a flight in San Francisco, headed for Cancun, Mexico.

He'd been in San Francisco for a couple of days, long enough to apply for a job at a local Starbucks. He put the Newport Starbucks down as a reference. When the San Francisco manager called Newport, Newport employees called the police. The stolen van was found in the airport parking lot.

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