By JEFF BARNARD
MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — The man accused in the slayings of his wife and four young children was arraigned Friday on aggravated murder charges, slumped in a wheelchair as he recovered from the fire that authorities say he set after stabbing his family.
Jordan Adam Criado, 51, of Medford, did not enter a plea via video from the Jackson County jail, a day after he was released from a hospital where he had spent three weeks being treated for smoke inhalation. His hair disheveled and his eyes cast downward, Criado asked in a barely audible voice for an attorney and to speak to his pastor.
Judge Lorenzo Mejia ordered him held without bail, saying an attorney would be appointed who is specially qualified to handle aggravated murder cases. He noted the charge can be punished by death by lethal injection.
A deputy wheeled Criado away from the video camera. Neither the jail nor the hospital commented on his health or mental condition, citing privacy laws.
Criado was charged with four counts of felony murder, four counts of manslaughter, and four counts of arson, along with 24 counts of aggravated murder alleging various scenarios in the slayings. Chief Deputy District Attorney Beth Heckert said prosecutors have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
Criado is accused of stabbing his wife, Tabasha Paige-Criado, in the neck and abdomen multiple times, as well as two of their children, and setting fire to their single-story house on July 18.
Friends and family have said Paige-Criado wanted a divorce. Her postings on Facebook refer to Criado as her roommate, and suggest she held him in contempt.
Criado reported his wife missing a few hours before the fire. Police officers found her at a convenience store and gave her a ride home.
Police Chief Tim George said investigators spoke with Criado, but would not divulge what they asked or what Criado answered.
“The investigation is far from over,” George said outside the courtroom. “There is still a lot of work to be done.”
Family members have said Criado met his wife at a community college in Bakersfield, Calif., and they married, even after she discovered he went to prison for sexually abusing three girls in Sacramento County, Calif.
He moved them to Oregon to get away from her family, family members have said.
Paige-Criado and her four children — Elijah, 7; Isaac, 6; Andrew, 5, and Aurora, 2 — were buried in Bakersfield, where Paige-Criado’s mother lives.