AP NEWS

Stepson remembers pilot charged with murders as ‘evil, evil tyrant’

May 15, 2019

An American Airlines pilot who lives in Raleigh was arrested on Saturday at Louisville’s International Airport in the murders of three people in Kentucky in 2015.

Fifty-one-year-old Christian Richard Martin is accused in the deaths of a married couple and their neighbor. He was in uniform and his plane was on the tarmac when authorities took him into custody a day after he was indicted by a Christian County grand jury in the November 2015 deaths of Calvin and Pamela Phillips of Pembroke, Kentucky and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau.

Two of the bodies were found in a car that had been set on fire.

“They were brutally murdered, and to let that go is unacceptable,” said Matt Phillips. His mother and father were two of the victims.

Martin moved from Christian County after the slayings and was living in Raleigh at the time of the indictment, a jail spokesman said. After his arrest, Martin was being held without bond in the Christian County Detention Center on murder, arson and burglary charges along with tampering with physical evidence.

Police said Calvin Phillips, 59, was found shot to death in the cellar of his home. The bodies of Pamela Phillips, 58, and Dansereau, 63, were found a few miles away in a cornfield inside her burned car.

“It was like something you would totally see in a movie,” said Ashley Martin, a woman on the Louisville to Charlotte flight that was canceled Saturday because of Martin’s arrest.

Ashley Martin and her mother, Frances Wise, were staying in a hotel in Charlotte after their Saturday morning flight was delayed.

“It’s startling,” Martin said. “It’s scary to think this happened so long ago, and they’re just now getting around to catching the guy.”

Matt Phillips says his father was set to testify against Martin in a child abuse case in military court two weeks before the murders.

Justin Harmon, Martin’s stepson at the time, says he was the victim in the case.

“He would abuse me, beat me, all the time. He’d smack me around, punch me, whatever,” Harmon said. “I was out mowing the lawn one day, and I made the line a little too crooked, and he started smacking me around for it and told me I was doing it wrong.”

WDRB News learned Martin is a first officer for PSA airlines, which is owned by American Airlines.

“All of us at American Airlines and PSA airlines are deeply saddened to have learned about these allegations from 2015,” an airline spokesperson wrote in a statement. “We will provide any investigative assistance possible to law enforcement throughout their investigation.”

American Airlines said Christian Martin is on administrative suspension pending the outcome of the investigation and court proceedings. When he was hired, the airline said, a criminal background check found no “criminal history that would disqualify him from being a commercial pilot.”

Martin faces a possible death sentence.

Harmon said that would be appropriate punishment.

“I hope that you get the worst punishment available to you,” he said. “You don’t deserve to be on the streets, and you are an evil, evil tyrant.”

CNN News contributed to this report.