Oregon man accused of killing his family captured in Mexico after tip to FBI

Tuesday, January 15th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) _ A fugitive put on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list after being accused of killing his wife and three children has been captured, thanks in part to a tip by a tourist.

Christian Longo, 27, was arrested Sunday in Tulum, Mexico, a resort town about 60 miles south of Cancun. A Canadian woman who met him called the FBI after returning home and recognizing his photo on the agency's Web site.

Longo is accused of killing his wife, MaryJane, 34, and children, Zachary, 4, Sadie Ann, 3, and Madison, 2, then dumping their bodies into two Oregon inlets.

Longo had been on the run since the bodies of his wife and children were found in December. After the tip, authorities determined that Longo had left Cancun on Jan. 7 and he was tracked to Tulum.

Longo agreed Monday to return voluntarily to the United States, and was flown by the FBI to Houston, where he was jailed while he awaits his return to Oregon to face aggravated murder charges.

By volunteering to return to the United States, Longo apparently avoided the sometimes sticky issue of extradition from Mexico and the death penalty. Mexico has no death penalty and does not extradite fugitives who might face a death sentence.

A spokesman for Longo's parents in Indianapolis said the couple was pleased their son had been found.

``As these events have unfolded over the last couple of weeks, the only thing more difficult than the answers has been the uncertainty,'' the statement read. ``Perhaps now the family can begin to understand what happened, and we may be able to have some kind of closure.''

Tourists who stayed with Longo at a Cancun youth hostel said he seemed like a cheerful tourist eager to learn Spanish. He told roommates he was divorced with no children.

``He was always smiling,'' said Laura Valle, desk clerk at The Mexico Hostel.

But some things about Longo stood out. He always wore the same plaid shirt and had little luggage, Valle said. He often went to the supermarket and cooked his own food in the hostel's communal kitchen.

The hostel was the cheapest place to stay in Cancun, charging 80 cents a night for a bath towel and $1 a night for a sheet.

Longo told the other guests that a thief had stolen his wallet and identification, said Juan Manuel, a 27-year-old Argentine lawyer who did not give his last name. Longo went by Mike, his middle name.

Juan Manuel said he had asked Longo if he had ever been married. ``I had a wife for four years, but now I'm divorced,'' Longo told him. ``I never had any kids.''

Longo said he was moving to Tulum to improve his Spanish.

``There are too many Americans in Cancun,'' he once said, according to Juan Manuel. ``I can't practice my Spanish here.''

In Longo's cabana at the Tulum beach camp, police said they found one of MaryJane Longo's credit cards and a notebook filled with comments about his visits to the local Mayan ruins.

Lincoln County District Attorney Bernice Barnett said Monday she won't reveal her decision on whether to seek the death penalty for Longo until he appears in an Oregon court.

Longo was arrested without incident by about 20 Mexican law enforcement officers and FBI agents from the American Embassy in Mexico City.

MaryJane's mother, Susan Lowery, in Trinity, Ala., said she was not surprised Longo fled to Mexico.

``In some ways he's very predictable,'' she said. ``They used to vacation down in Mexico.''