Jordan Criado's three rambunctious young boys often played for hours outside their west Medford house, and the taskmaster father with a bit of a temper set specific rules he expected them to keep, neighbors say.
The boys, ages 5, 6 and 7, couldn't venture past a driveway fence two doors to the west and not a foot past the front of Jennifer Backes' house three doors to the east on West 10th Street.
"He'd even draw a line with sidewalk chalk and write down STOP so they wouldn't get beyond that line," Backes said.
Police believe Criado, 51, himself stepped violently and tragically past familial lines early Monday when he allegedly stabbed his wife and four children and set a fire in their house.
Pronounced dead at Medford hospitals were Tabasha Paige-Criado, 30, their three boys and their 2-year-old daughter, according to the Medford Police Department.
Police had not positively identified the children late Monday, but several sources said the 7-year-old was named Elijah and the 6-year-old was named Isaac.
Jordan Criado remained in a medically induced coma and in police custody late Monday at Rogue Valley Medical Center, Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said.
Backes watched rescue crews pull the bodies of the Criado children from the smoky home Monday morning as the worst homicide in Jackson County history began to unfold in chaos on the small lawn.
"It's so hard to believe," Backes said. "I just saw those boys playing yesterday, and now they're gone."
Backes said she believed Jordan Criado had a "higher of a temper than most people" and said the couple occasionally argued on the front lawn, but she chalked that up to common marital squabbles.
"They seemed like they were happy," she said.
Court records show Jordan Criado was arrested in November 2005 on an extraditable fugitive warrant and eventually waived extradition. However, electronic versions of Criado's court records do not state where the fugitive warrant was issued and what, if any, related charges were involved.
The couple also was sued civilly in January over a $650 debt to a credit service, records show. One of the Criados had wages at Amy's Kitchen garnished, but the records did not specify which of the two worked there. The couple fulfilled their financial requirements two months later and the garnishment was lifted, records show.
Neighbors said Paige-Criado attended Rogue Community College, regularly walking to the downtown campus.
Records show the family had bumped around the valley since 2007 with addresses listed in White City, Central Point and Medford. Neighbors said they had lived in the small brown house at 1027 W. 10th St. for less than a year.
Central Point School District records show Elijah and Isaac Criado attended kindergarten and transitional kindergarten classes before transferring to Medford's Washington Elementary School in November, Superintendent Randy Gravon said.
While in Central Point, Elijah was enrolled in a special-needs program at Central Point Elementary School for kids in kindergarten up to second grade, Gravon said.
The Criados' block bubbled with kids on bicycles riding past houses with flowers on porches and little gardens planted in plots of earth between the sidewalk and street. Sierra Szabo, 11, was a schoolmate at Washington with Elijah and she recalled regularly seeing the boys play outside while their mother sat on the porch smoking cigarettes.
"They were little kids who were just playing," she said.
Other neighbors described the kids as polite, respectful and full of energy, like most boys their age in a neighborhood full of kids.
"They sounded like a normal, regular family," said Antonio Backes, Jennifer Backes' son.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at email@example.com.