PORTLAND, Ore. — Christian Longo — on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for allegedly killing his wife and three children and dumping their bodies into coastal waters — was arrested at a grass-hut camp at a beach resort in Mexico, the FBI said Monday.
Longo surrendered peacefully to about 20 FBI agents and Mexican police Sunday night at the grass-hut camp in Tulum, about 60 miles south of Cancun, the FBI said.
The 27-year-old Longo, who has a history of petty crime and debt, had been on the run since the bodies of his wife and children were found in shallow areas of the Oregon coast in December.
Authorities were able to track him down on a tip from a vacationer who returned to her home in Canada and recognized the fugitive’s picture on the FBI’s Web site, said Charles Mathews, the agency’s special agent in charge for Oregon.
Longo was placed on the Most Wanted list on Friday.
Longo agreed to return voluntarily to the United States, and was flown to Houston accompanied by FBI agents on Monday, Mathews said. He is jailed in Houston pending arraignment on federal charges and a return to Oregon.
He is accused of the December murders of MaryJane Longo, 35, and their children: Zachary, 4, Sadie Ann, 3, and Madison, 2. Their bodies were found in Alsea Bay near Waldport and at a marina at Yaquina Bay at Newport, both on the central Oregon coast.
Authorities will not say how they died. Longo is charged with aggravated murder.
Longo was arrested at a place described by Mathews as “a beach camp of very modest resources” in Tulum. Famed for its Maya ruins, Tulum caters to a wide range of tourists — from beach campers to big spenders.
Longo’s fate was sealed on Dec. 27, when he met a woman from the Montreal area at Hostel Mexico in Cancun. Longo identified himself as Brad but later said his name was Mike, Mathews said.
The Canadian woman, who has not been identified, returned home on Dec. 29.
Longo later moved to the Tulum beach camp using the name Michael Longo, and was staying in what Mathews called a “grass hut” with another person who didn’t know Longo was wanted.
Publicity about the search for Longo prompted the Canadian woman to check the FBI’s Web site, which shows the agency’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
She recognized Longo and called the FBI, Mathews said.
By volunteering to return to the United States, Longo apparently voids the sometimes-sticky issue of extradition from Mexico and the death penalty. Mexico does not extradite fugitives who might face a death sentence since it has no such penalty of its own.
District Attorney Bernice Barnett of Lincoln County, where the murdered bodies were found, said Monday she has decided whether she will seek the death penalty. But she refused to disclose what her decision is.
Longo drove a stolen vehicle to San Francisco and flew from there to Cancun on Dec. 27, using the stolen identification of a Newport man, the FBI said.
Longo was asked to leave the Hostel Mexico in Cancun on Jan. 7 after some money was reported stolen, Mathews said, although the theft apparently was not directly associated with Longo.
Mathews said Longo is to be arraigned on federal charges of illegal flight to avoid prosecution and then will be turned over to Texas authorities for extradition to Oregon.
When Longo returns to Oregon will depend on whether he fights extradition, Mathews said.
The body of Zachary Longo was found in a coastal inlet near Waldport on Dec. 19. The body of Sadie Ann was discovered in the same shallow inlet three days later.
Divers found the bodies of Mary Jane and Madison two days later in a marina in Newport. Authorities launched a nationwide manhunt.
A Dodge Durango that Longo allegedly stole from an Oregon car lot was found at the San Francisco airport, and Longo had been spotted in San Francisco twice in late December.
Longo, who owned a construction cleaning business in Michigan, is named in six lawsuits seeking more than $30,000 and is wanted on two warrants in Michigan for probation violation and a larceny charge. When the Longos moved west last year, they reportedly left behind $60,000 in debts.
The Longo family moved to Oregon from Ypsilanti, Mich. about three months earlier.
Mathews said the woman who turned Longo in did so before Saturday night’s broadcast of “America’s Most Wanted” featured the fugitive but said she was asked to watch the program to confirm whether it was indeed Longo that she had seen.
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