Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Trials of Christian Longo

Desperation Takes Hold

Map of South Dakota with Sioux Falls locator
Map of South Dakota with Sioux Falls locator

With MaryJane and the kids in the Montana and Chris in the rental truck, the Longos headed west. In a couple of days they reached Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Chris rented a large storage locker, drove the rental truck half full of their household possessions inside, paid a month in advance, then jumped into the van with MaryJane and the children. 

Longo children
Longo children

They continued west as far as they could go: the Pacific Ocean. They reached Yachats, Oregon, on September 12, 2001. Chris never considered it running away. He considered it making a change for the better. He'd make good on all those debts. He just needed a little breathing room.

The family stopped at Ocean Odyssey Vacation Rentals. Chris said he'd been transferred to a new job in Oregon, that his wife and children were beat from traveling, and that they needed to find a short-term rental. He'd pay cash.

He had cash, because he'd just pawned MaryJane's wedding ring.

According to Carlton Smith of Willamette Week, the people at Ocean Odyssey felt sorry for the Longos. An exhausted MaryJane held the baby on her lap and said almost nothing. The two older children were quiet and well-behaved. The Longos rented a modest house in Waldport for $300 a week. They pulled that off for a couple of weeks, but eventually, the money ran out and they had to move to a $22 a night motel in Newport. Chris hated it. He hated having his family live in a "roachy" place and eat noodles for dinner. It went against every idea he had of himself, and how he would provide for his family. He'd get paid on Friday and be out of money by Tuesday, according to an interview published in The Oregonian.

"And now we're, we are pulling pennies out of the ashtray," Longo said. "Ah, to where that was almost empty. So it just, it never got any better. It never got any better." "I mean, we could get bread and ramen noodles," Longo said. "Which killed me. I mean we are used to eating whatever, going to the grocery store, spending $200 and not even thinking about it. And now we are trying to figure out how we can do it for five bucks."

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