The mystery began less than a week before Christmas, when residents of a trailer park spotted a child's body, small and pale, floating about two feet from shore in a coastal inlet near Waldport.
No one claimed the child, a 5-year-old with blond hair and hazel eyes, so the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department released a retouched photograph and a plea for the public's help.
Within a week, divers would find three more bodies - the boy's sisters and mother. By Christmas, police had launched a nationwide search for the children's father, a longtime Michigan resident with a history of financial trouble and a record of petty crime.
On Friday, police issued a warrant for the man's arrest on four counts of aggravated murder. Autopsy reports showed the children were victims of violence, and Lincoln County District Attorney Bernice Barnett said their father had been seen Dec. 26 in the San Francisco area.
The discovery of the children's bodies shocked Waldport, a town of about 2,000 that relies on logging, fishing, crabbing and tourism to get by. Residents set up an impromptu memorial on a bridge spanning Alsea Bay, where the first two children were found.
On Christmas Eve, a tip led investigators to Michigan, where family members identified the children as Zachary Michael Longo, 5, and 3-year-old Sadie Ann Longo.
Their parents, Mary Jane and Christian Longo, had moved to the coastal city of Newport from Ypsilanti, Mich., about three months earlier, police said. They also had another child, Madison, age 2.
That same day, police in a Portland suburb found the family's empty van outside a car dealership. Then, on Dec. 27, divers found the bodies of Mary Jane Longo, 35, and Madison in a bay about 14 miles north of Waldport.
Christian Longo, 27, was still missing Friday. Authorities say autopsies revealed his wife and three children all died of homicidal violence, and the FBI has obtained a federal fugitive warrant, because Longo is believed to have crossed state lines.
Longo, who owned a construction cleaning company in Michigan, has been named in six lawsuits seeking more than $30,000 and is wanted on two warrants in Michigan for probation violation and a larceny charge.
He was convicted in October 2000 for forging $30,000 in checks from builders in Michigan. He is also wanted on at least two warrants in Toledo, Ohio, for passing bad checks and forgery, as well as stealing construction equipment, police said.
In Newport, neighbors said Christian Longo lived alone - though he was visited by his wife and children - in a condominium near the resort where the bodies of his wife and youngest daughter were found.
He told acquaintances he worked for Qwest Communications as a surveyor, but police say he actually worked for a grocery chain. He told friends he had two children instead of three, neighbors said.
He kept his story pretty good, said Newport resident Sarah Johnson.
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