Criado case heads to grand jury; health of suspect uncertain

A grand jury today will hear the case against Jordan Criado, accused of killing his wife and four children and setting their west Medford home on fire July 18.

Criado, 51, faces 36 counts of aggravated murder, murder, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree arson. The grand jury will hear evidence presented by Jackson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Beth Heckert and decide on which counts to indict Criado, Heckert said.

When Criado initially was arraigned on the charges Friday afternoon, he sat with his head lolling to the side, kept his eyes closed and made a mumbling request for a lawyer and a pastor as a judge explained Criado could be facing the death penalty. Criado had spent more than two weeks in a local hospital after suffering smoke inhalation in the fire.

A man who spent a recent night in jail said he saw Criado walking unassisted with Jackson County sheriff's deputies.

Mike Niehaus, 46, said he was placed in a holding cell next to Criado after being arrested in downtown Medford for disturbing the peace at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Niehaus said he had been shouting about police harassment at the bar and kept on shouting throughout the night in jail about being "handcuffed next to a murderer in America."

"I just kept yelling and going on," Niehaus said.

Jail logs confirmed Niehaus was lodged on Saturday.

Niehaus said staff checked on Criado regularly and his cell remained lighted at all times, which Niehaus suspected was a suicide watch. "They're paying attention," Niehaus said.

Saturday morning, before Niehaus was released on $100 bail, he said he saw Criado walking unassisted with sheriff's deputies.

"He looks like kind of a frail being right now," Niehaus said, adding Criado appeared to have been coming from the shower area.

"His hair was wet," he said. "He was just walking around like he's going to be in jail for a long time."

Jackson County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Andrea Carlson declined to release information about Criado's medical condition, where he is being housed or whether he was on suicide watch, citing privacy laws.

Criado's 30-year-old wife, Tabasha Paige-Criado, died of stab wounds to the neck and abdomen, according to autopsy results. Sons Andrew, 5, and Isaac, 6, died of stab wounds to the neck and probable carbon monoxide poisoning from the arson fire. Elijah, 7, and Aurora, 2, probably died from carbon monoxide poisoning, which will be determined through pending toxicology tests.

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.