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Airline pilot arrested in Kentucky for 2015 triple homicide

Louisville, Ky. — A pilot for an American Airlines subsidiary was arrested Saturday and charged for the 2015 shooting deaths of three people in Kentucky, the state attorney general announced.

Christian R. Martin was arrested Saturday at the Louisville airport, a day after he was indicted by a Christian County grand jury and accused of killing Calvin and Pamela Phillips of Pembroke and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau, in November 2015, Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a news release.

Beshear said Martin was indicted on Friday on three counts of murder and one count of arson. He also faces charges of attempted arson, burglary and evidence tampering.

Kentucky Slayings-Pilot Charged
A photo provided by the Christian County Detention Center shows Christian R. Martin.  Christian County, Kentucky, Detention Center via AP

Martin moved from Christian County after the slayings and was living in North Carolina at the time of the indictment, the statement said.

American Airlines said in a statement it is cooperating in the investigation. The airline said Martin has been a pilot for subsidiary PSA Airlines since January 2018. Martin's jail mugshot shows him wearing a pilot's uniform.

A criminal background check conducted on Martin found no "criminal history that would disqualify him from being a commercial pilot," the airline said.

It wasn't immediately known whether Martin has an attorney who could comment on the charges. Martin was being held without bond in the Christian County Detention Center.

Police said Calvin Phillips, 59, was found shot to death in the cellar of his home. The bodies of Pamela Phillips, 58, and Dansereau, 63, were found a few miles away in a cornfield inside her burned car.

Authorities have not given a motive for the slayings or said what led them to believe Martin was responsible.

Beshear said he met nearly two years ago with the couple's son, Matt Phillips, who was worried the case had stalled. Beshear accepted a request from the local commonwealth attorney to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case.

"I hope this is a day that brings some justice to these families," Beshear said. "There are many steps from here, but we hope this is one example of when you never stop seeking justice, when you never give up, that we can truly get important results for these families."

Relatives of Calvin and Pamela Phillips had offered a $100,000 reward to help solve the case. Family members of the victims expressed gratitude toward the law enforcement officials who stayed with the case over a multi-year period.

"Every day, we are haunted by what was done to them and haunted further that someone was still free to do as they wish, beyond the civility of mankind or laws of our nation," the family members of the victims said in a statement. "We are overwhelmed with this positive step towards resolution for people we love dearly ... We look forward to justice in court, and we look forward to a verdict to bring an end to this terror, and a fresh start at healing."

The statement said relatives of the victims expressed an "overflowing of emotion, sincere relief, and absolute gratitude to all those who have worked diligently on this case."