December 19, 2001. Waldport, Oregon. The body of a young boy was discovered floating in a pond. No one knew who the boy was and there were no missing persons reports for a child. Three days later, divers searched the pond, looking for clues on the boy’s identity. There was a highway bridge over the pond, and it was suspected that a car with the child’s family may be in the pond. Divers found the body of a girl with a rock tied around her ankle. The media ran the story asking for help finding the children’s parents. A babysitter stepped forward and identified the children. From there, the authorities searched the children’s residence. It was evident that someone had packed up the personal belongings. But the father, mother, and younger sister of the children were missing. Divers searched the water nearby and found two suitcases. Inside were the bodies of the mother and the baby girl. Four out of the five members of the Longo family were dead. Mary-Jane and her children Zachary, Sadie and Madison had been murdered. Christian Longo was no where to be found.
The story of the Longo family is truly horrific. Stories such as these remind us all that there are dangerous people in the world. Even a person that you love and trust could be the person that ends that your life. But True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa is not just about the murdered Longo family.
Michael Finkel lives in Montana and is a writer for the New York Times. He had recently written a story that was not entirely true and was terminated for it. So when he gets a call from a journalist at The Oregonian, Finkel expects the call to be about his disgrace. Instead, the newspaper writer asks him about his reaction to Christian Longo being arrested after claiming to be Michael Finkel from the New York Times.
And so begins the bizarre relationship between the accused murderer and the disgraced journalist. Longo calls Finkel from prison on a weekly basis. They exchange letters. Finkel even drives to Oregon to visit him a few times. And Michael Finkel is in the court room during Longo’s trial.
An interesting story of murder, deceit and redemption. True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa is a must read for true crime fans and for those interested in human behavior. It is available in print and in audiobook.
There is also a movie based off of the book. True Story was released in 2015. It stars James Franco as Christian Longo and Jonah Hill as Michael Finkel. True Story is available on DVD from the library.