AP NEWS

Airline pilot living in Raleigh charged with killing 3 in Kentucky in 2015

May 12, 2019

A pilot for an American Airlines subsidiary was arrested Saturday in the 2015 shooting deaths of three people in Kentucky, the state attorney general announced.

Christian R. Martin was arrested Saturday at the Louisville airport, a day after he was indicted by a Christian County grand jury in the November 2015 deaths of Calvin and Pamela Phillips of Pembroke and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau, Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a news release.

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.

Authorities have not given a motive for the slayings or said what led them to believe Martin was responsible.

WSMV News 4 in Nashville reported in 2016 that Martin, then a major in the U.S. Army, was detained by military investigators immediately after the murders but never charged.

Joan Harmon, Martin’s ex-wife, told WSMV that she feared for the safety of her children and that Martin had been abusive.

After she moved out of their home, Harmon told WSMV, she took a concealed carry class, and the Phillipses and Dansereau were classmates.

Beshear said he met nearly two years ago with the couple’s son, Matt Phillips, who was worried the case had stalled. Beshear accepted a request from the local commonwealth attorney to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case.

Relatives of Calvin and Pamela Phillips had offered a $100,000 reward to help solve the case.

“I hope this is a day that brings some justice to these families,” Beshear said. “There are many steps from here, but we hope this is one example of when you never stop seeking justice, when you never give up, that we can truly get important results for these families.”

The statement said relatives of the victims expressed an “overflowing of emotion, sincere relief, and absolute gratitude to all those who have worked diligently on this case.”

American Airlines said in a statement it is cooperating in the investigation. The airline said Martin has been a pilot for subsidiary PSA Airlines since January 2018. Martin’s jail mugshot shows him wearing a pilot’s uniform.

A criminal background check conducted on Martin found no “criminal history that would disqualify him from being a commercial pilot,” the airline said.

It wasn’t immediately known whether Martin has an attorney who could comment on the charges.