MEDFORD, Ore. » Police believe a 51-year-old Oregon man stabbed his wife and their four young children and set fire to their house on Monday, killing all five victims. The man was hospitalized as authorities tried to piece together the frantic scene.
Firefighters using CPR tried to revive the family members, and managed to get a pulse from at least two of the children as they lay on the lawn in front of their home, said Police Chief Tim George.
"The front yard looked like it was a plane crash or something, the people working on those folks," George said.
Rescuers quickly realized it wasn’t just smoke inhalation they were dealing with and rushed the 30-year-old mother and the children — ages 2, 5, 6 and 7 — to the hospital.
But all five died. The father was also taken to the hospital, where he was sedated in stable condition and under police guard, George said. Police believe he killed his family, but did not immediately charge him.
"That is the suspicion right now — the fellow we have up at the hospital under guard is responsible," said George.
Though autopsies will not be done for a day or two, it is believe the five dead were all stabbed and suffered smoke inhalation, police said.
Investigators were getting a new search warrant before going back into the house Tuesday to gather more evidence, George said.
The house is a small, plain one-story structure in a working class neighborhood of older homes, some of them undergoing renovation, several blocks from downtown in this city of about 75,000 in Southern Oregon’s timber country.
The father was identified as Jordan Adam Criado, 51, and his wife as Tabasha Paige-Criado, 30. The names of the children, three boys aged 7, 6 and 5, and a 2-year-old daughter, were not immediately released.
Some neighbors said they thought Criado, who spoke with an accent, was a single dad, devoted to his children, and worked as a "shade-tree mechanic," fixing cars out of his home. A maroon minivan sat in the driveway with a broken transmission.
A public records database shows that Criado has had addresses in Medford, and the nearby cities White City and Central Point since 2007. The records also show addresses in Sacramento, Bakersfield and Salinas before 2000, but nothing in the intervening years.
About two weeks ago, Criado and his wife could be heard arguing loudly late at night, said Chris Bennett, 23, an Oregon National Guard infantryman who lives three doors down.
"He just bluntly told her, ‘Hey, you need to calm down, the kids are asleep,’" Bennett said.
"It was always her yelling," said Bennett’s fiance, Shilo Croswell, 22. "Anytime we saw him it was just him and the kids. Then we saw this woman. She kept asking him who we were, and he was not responding because he was talking to us."
Bennett said last year his car broke down in front of Criado’s house, and Criado advised him to check the fuses. One was burnt out and Criado gave him a replacement and wouldn’t take any money for it.
Bennett said the 7-year-old boy was a good student, and once said he hoped to be a doctor.
Earlier in the morning of the fire, Criado called police to report his wife missing, said George. Officers located her a few blocks away at a convenience store, and gave her a ride home, George said.
"They both met and conversed," George added. "What happened between 7:30 and 9:30 in roughly a two-hour time span is what we are trying to figure out right now."
At around 9 a.m., Calvin Kennedy said he and other neighbors saw smoke coming out of the house and contacted police and firefighters, who had to don breathing apparatus to enter the smoke-filled house.
"When I first saw it, all I could do was cry," Jennifer Backes told the Medford Mail Tribune as she watched the rescue efforts.
"Never saw any trouble," Kennedy said. "It’s just sad."