Police suspect a 51-year-old Medford father stabbed his wife and four children and set their house on fire Monday morning in the largest homicide case in Jackson County history.
Dozens of firefighters and police desperately tried to resuscitate 30-year-old Tabasha Paige-Criado and her four children, three boys ages 7, 6 and 5, and a 2-year-old girl before they were pronounced dead at local hospitals from stab wounds and smoke inhalation.
July 18, 2011: The Criado family killings. A mother and four children are stabbed, then their house is set on fire at 1027 W. 10th St.
Sept. 1, 1974: The Cowden family murders. Richard and Belinda Cowden and their two children are murdered in the Applegate area. The killer hasn't been caught.
April 26, 1984: The Gilley family murders. Billy Gilley Jr. killed his parents and his youngest sister. He was sentenced to life in prison.
"When I first saw it, all I could do was cry," said Jennifer Backes, a 37-year-old neighbor, as she watched firefighters wearing respirator masks carry one victim after another out of the smoky house. Three or four firefighters and police performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and gave oxygen to each victim on the front lawn of the home at 1027 W. 10th St.
Police are holding the father, Jordan Criado, in connection with the deaths. He was listed in critical condition from smoke inhalation Monday night at Rogue Valley Medical Center.
"It's a very sad case," said Medford police Chief Tim George. "At least in my 34 years of memory here, I can't remember five homicides at one time."
George said police don't believe there are additional suspects involved.
Fire officials are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire, which they believe was deliberately set. Autopsies will be performed on the mother and children, District Attorney Mark Huddleston said.
"It's an extremely tragic situation," he said, adding three attorneys would be placed on the case from his office.
The four children were transported to Rogue Valley Medical Center, the mother to Providence Medford Medical Center. They were pronounced dead within an hour and a half.
Police had responded to the house earlier that day, when the husband reported his wife missing at 5:30 a.m. Paige-Criado was located at the corner of 10th Street and Oakdale Avenue at about 7:45 a.m. George said she didn't indicate any concern for her safety and wanted to return to her home. George said the couple spoke briefly outside the house, and there didn't appear to be any indication that something was wrong.
"She didn't express any fear," George said. "They both talked. He seemed calm."
At 9:28 a.m., a neighbor called to report smoke seen inside the Criados' residence. Police arrived within a few minutes, but couldn't enter the house because of heavy smoke.
Medford firefighters used fans to clear the smoke and when they entered the home, they found the victims unconscious inside and called for backup as they realized the magnitude of the crisis. Up to 40 firefighters and additional responders from throughout Jackson County arrived on the scene.
Medford fire Deputy Chief Gordon Sletmoe said three to four responders worked on each victim. None appeared to regain consciousness as they were loaded into waiting ambulances.
But responders held out hope that some of the younger members of the family could be revived.
Police cordoned off the crime scene with yellow tape, but onlookers gathered just across the street on the sidewalk.
Calvin Kennedy, a 64-year-old neighbor, said he approached the house before the firefighters arrived, seeing smoke coming up under the chimney area. But he didn't notice any flames.
"I knocked on the door three or four times, then I called the fire department," he said, adding he didn't hear any sounds from a smoke detector.
Kennedy watched from across the street as responders worked on the family. "I just hope they're all right," Kennedy said.
Like most neighbors, Kennedy didn't notice any problems with the family, who had moved into the house less than a year ago.
"They're a very tight-knit family," Kennedy said.
Debra Gates, a 58-year-old neighbor, said she'd never seen any problems at the house.
"The dad was playing with the kids a lot in the front yard," she said. "I never saw the police come by."
But Nancy Hanon, who rents out a house next door to the victims, said she called Medford code enforcement recently to report trailers and other debris in the backyard.
"We just wanted them to clean up the mess," said the 68-year-old Eagle Point resident.
Hanon said a code enforcement officer called her to say the family was cooperative and appeared to want to comply with the cleanup.
Gloria Oliva said she knew the family only casually, saying she spoke to the mother and saw the children playing.
"I would never expect to see this," said the 40-year-old neighbor. "They're really in bad shape."
Looking on at one young boy being loaded into an ambulance, she said tearfully, "He's still not moving."
George said many of his officers who tried to resuscitate the family were sent home early today. They will be offered the chance to speak to a chaplain or talk to a counselor.
Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said investigators likely won't know the full extent of stab wounds on the victims until today.
Other details will come out as the investigation continues, he said.
"We haven't been able to positively I.D. the children yet," Hansen said Monday evening. "The difficulty is we don't have parents to talk to."
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.