NEWPORT, Ore. - Wiping away a tear, Christian Longo pleaded guilty yesterday to killing his wife and 2-year-old daughter, but pleaded innocent in the deaths of his two other children.
In a surprise move, Longo admitted that he murdered his wife, MaryJane, 34, and their daughter Madison on the Oregon coast in December, 2001.
His lips trembling and taut, Longo responded to questions by Judge Robert Huckleberry with short answers.
When asked whether he killed MaryJane and Madison, he replied: “That's correct.”
But Longo pleaded innocent to the deaths of his two other children - Zachery, 4, and Sadie Ann, 3. A trial on those charges is scheduled to begin March 10.
The bodies of all four were found in coastal waters - Zachery and Sadie Ann on Dec. 19, 2001, and MaryJane and Madison on Dec. 27. Longo was arrested in Mexico about three weeks later. The couple was married in Ann Arbor, Mich. and the family once lived in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Longo had owned a construction cleaning business in Michigan. When the family moved west from Ypsilanti, he was wanted for a probation violation and a larceny charge, and left behind $60,000 in debts.
For several months in the summer of 2001, the family lived in Toledo, departing after police questioned Longo about a stolen vehicle he had in his possession.
Judge Huckleberry told Longo that he can still receive the death penalty for the murders of his wife and daughter, as well as for the deaths of the two older children.
“The plea the defendant made today was not based on any plea negotiation or bargain,” said Bernice Barnett, the Lincoln County district attorney. “I'm not going to speculate on why they did this.”
Longo's attorney, Ken Hadley, left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Reached on his cell phone by the Eugene Register-Guard, Mr. Hadley said: “I think it will get clearer as we get further into the trial.”
Longo had fled the Oregon coast by the time sheriff's divers found the bodies. He traveled to a Mexican resort, where he snorkeled, partied, and lived with a German woman.
A tip from a Canadian tourist prompted his arrest Jan. 13, 2002, by the FBI and Mexican federal police.