Medford claimed as its own a 30-year-old mother of four killed earlier in the week along with her young children in a stabbing and house fire. The killings, the worst in the city's history
More than 300 people filled Medford's Hawthorne Park for a candlelight vigil to remember Tabasha Paige-Criado and her four youngsters -- Elijah, Isaac,
Andrew and Aurora -- stabbed and left to die in their burning home on July 18. Paige-Criado's older brother, Jesse Adams, and his wife, Heidi, praised
rescuers for their efforts to save their loved ones, and thanked mourners for remembering the family.
They planned to meet in person for the first time at an August barbecue in Medford.
Paige-Criado's other plans weren't as solid.
She became a fixture at the Thursday evening belly-dancing class at her local YMCA.
She spoke of going back to school to get her college degree, of moving to New Orleans, of returning to Bakersfield. She had concrete plans to leave, said Potts, but with four children, no money and few prospects, leaving wasn't a slam dunk.
"I just assumed that it was the regular, 'We had a good run and it just kind of ran its course' breakup," Potts said.
Now Potts wants other women to learn from her friend's story.
"Tabasha was a tough girl. It is not her place to ever... let anyone think that she was a victim.
"Knowing now what she was silently struggling through, maybe that was a mistake."
In February 2010, she still referred to him as "my hubby." In April, they lost the three-bedroom rancher on Vista Drive to foreclosure, records show. By May 11, she wrote, "sometimes I think I might run away just me and my daughter!" and by October she referred to Criado as the "not-so-efficient-mechanic-ball-n-chain-village-idiotic-king."
But in December, the family arranged to rent-to-own the 1925 house on West 10th, a two-bedroom fixer-upper on a fifth of an acre, without water or electricity.
The spent the winter crowded into a borrowed motor home in the backyard while working on the house. Neither Criado nor Paige-Criado had steady employment.
She took pride in the renovation, posing before a newly papered accent wall just inside the front door.
In January, she was reunited online with her biological father. "Still in shock," she wrote on Jan. 16. "He's a swell guy!"
stubborn resistance, she said.
"That's when Jordan said he had to get her out of Bakersfield because I was too close to my daughter," she remembered.
Moving to Oregon
The family left sometime after 2004. In 2008, at the height of the real estate market, they bought a three-bedroom home in Central Point. The family had grown to three boys, two with severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and one Paige-Criado described as "low-scale autistic," with a daughter on the way.
By 2009, she had taken to social networking, posting happy family photos on her Facebook page and sharing her zest for life and quick wit.
She grew close to Cherilyn Potts, a blogger and mom from Louisville, Ky., the two bonding online over a shared love of natural hair styles and 1980s music.
"She was like your personal life cheerleader," Potts, 30, said. "She was probably a better friend to others than they were to her."
She kept loved ones at arm's length, offering glimpses of a troubled marriage with a controlling man, but refusing to reveal details.
"It bothers me to say I would just accept the brushoff," Potts said.
In time, Paige-Criado took down the happy family portraits. Her words turned sharp at mention of her husband.
Paige-Criado looked forward, not backward. "She didn't hold somebody's past against them," Adams said.
"She wanted to have stability and she was going to give him that and he gave her that in return."
The couple were married by a justice of the peace. He worked as a mechanic, she waited tables.
But when her mother, Gwen Crowles, delved into Criados past, the crimes shook her.
"When I first met him, I thought he was all right ... until I learned that he was a child molester," Crowles said.
In short succession, the couple had two sons. Crowles' warnings met
He served nearly 11 years and confessed his crimes not long after they began dating, her brother recalled.
Vigil in Medford for murder victims Tabasha Paige-Criado and her four children
Hundreds gather in Medford to pay their respects to Tabasha Paige-Criado and her four children, allegedly murdered by Jordan Adam Criado, husband and father.
She enrolled in a community college in Bakersfield, where in 2003 she met Jordan Criado.
He was 21 years her senior, a loner with an unhappy childhood and a criminal record.
"He was adopted. He didn't have any family, and she bounced around so much. We had a tough childhood. When they met each other, she and Jordan found common ground," Adams said.
Criado had had a family once, when he was living in Sacramento in the 1980s. In December 1989 his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Janeen, admitted to an assistant district attorney that Criado had sexually abused her for five years.
It began subtly at first when she was 7, according to a story in The Sacramento Bee in 2007.
"After awhile there was not a night I was left alone," said the victim, then the mother of a 7-year-old herself.
Criado was convicted of eight counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Always a character
Paige-Criado was born in Bakersfield, Calif., a hardscrabble city of dust and oil set at the choke point of the lush San Joaquin farming valley and the implacable Sierra Nevada.
The third of six children, she moved repeatedly in her youth: to Denver, then Phoenix and back to California. She was a clever, independent kid, a cheerful troublemaker who made the most of even miserable situations.
"She was always a character, Adams said. She could get in trouble and be grounded but she made it fun.
"That was her gift: No matter how bad things got, she found the positive side of things."
After she graduated from high school, she enlisted in the Navy in 2001 to learn a trade, but her military career ended after five months and 19 days.
The Navy wasn't a good fit for the bon vivant.
Tabasha Paige-Criado came to southern Oregon to find just such a community, said her eldest brother, Jesse Adams, a 32-year-old contractor from Buckeye, Ariz. Her husband, 51-year-old Jordan Adam Criado, remains unconscious in an area hospital with smoke inhalation from fires police suspect he set after stabbing Paige-Criado, Elijah, 7, Isaac, 6, Andrew 5, and 2-year-old Aurora Elizabeth at the familys rented West 10th Street bungalow.Read more at www.oregonlive.com