PORTLAND, Ore. – Christian Longo is on death row for one of the most notorious crimes in Oregon history, killing his wife and three children along the coast then fleeing to Mexico.
KATU News has exclusively obtained revelations from the mind of this murderer written in his own words.
Longo always wanted to be writer. When he was arrested in 2002 at a beach resort in Mexico, the tourists he'd befriended thought he was a journalist for the New York Times. That's what he'd told them.
It is, perhaps, a reflection of the life he wishes he would have had. The man he might have been instead of the man he became – a husband with a wife, three children, and diminishing resources to provide for them.
It was not quite Christmas that year, 2001, when he strangled his wife, Mary Jane, and their 2-year-old daughter, Madison, then stuffed them into a suitcase and tossed it off the docks in Newport. He drowned Zachary and Sadie, dropping them off a bridge into Alsea Bay with rocks tied around their ankles.
Ten years later he's now writing about his dead family. In a letter obtained by KATU News, Christian Longo tells a woman he says he loves, how he's come to terms with his crimes.
He talks about the trial: "I got up on the stand and essentially blamed my wife for everything. I was still stuck in a phase where I couldn't fathom the thought of me being capable of doing what I was convicted of."
He writes that he eventually began "studying what a psychologist said I was and came to terms with it, almost totally agreeing that he was right ... his conclusion was the narcissistic personality disorder which he called 'compensatory' -- basically self-centeredness related to a damaged core sense of self."
Longo has told KATU News from prison how it was a woman outside the confines of his cell – a close friend – who inspired him to take up the cause of organ donation. He thought, why not make these life-saving organs available from inmates? Especially those like him, who are condemned to die.
He writes about the idea extensively and passionately in the letter, and about how the Will Smith movie “Seven Pounds” inspired him to want to donate to specific people based on the productivity of their lives, as Smith's character did in the film.
He admits that sounds "kind of like a God complex – but to me it seemed like an extreme version of Ty Pennington saying, ‘move that bus,’” a reference to the host of ABC’s Extreme Makeover series.
Longo says his organ donation campaign is also a way for him to stay sane. He writes: "When I let myself think about what I did I can barely operate. I've gone through chunks of time where it took every ounce of motivation I had to get to the toilet 3 feet away. I had to force myself to eat and brush my teeth. And I don't think that it was out of a depression so much as shock. …
"Of course I wish I could go back to the moments before, to be honest, and express my failing or pick up the phone to ask for help … or be a man. But I can't. So I'm doing what I do instead and trying to avoid thinking too much about it. Because the thoughts are horrible.
"I dream a few times a week about my daughters. They're usually happy and playing and it's pleasant. But my mind, even in the dream, knows the reality. And it always switches to an image of my son that haunts me for the rest of that dream state. Sometimes, I get back to sleep, a lot of times I don't. And unless I get distracted pretty quickly, the image sticks and I'm haunted throughout the day until it fades. I rarely dream of my wife and I don't know what that means. I think it's from a detachment from her long before the end -- which I know sounds callous, but I'm being honest."
The end of Christian Longo's story still waits to be written. Whether it will have an epilogue about the lives his organ donation program saved remains a mystery. It’s a life stranger than fiction and a death, even now, he's desperate to control.
The Oregon Department of Corrections has so far rejected Longo's proposal to set up an organ transplant program involving death row inmates. He authored a book about his idea earlier this year which is for sale online.