Posted: Fri, July 13 2012 at 8:37 PM, Updated: Fri, July 13 2012 at 8:53 PM
It’s been nearly a year since the tragedy on 10th Street, the largest homicide in the history of the Rogue Valley. Four children and their mother killed by a husband during what officials say was a domestic dispute.
Now Tabasha Criado’s father is coming out to the public ...with his side of the story.
Marzuq Johnson admits he wasn’t the perfect father...or person.
He served time in a California prison for voluntary manslaughter after a gun went off in his home..killing a man.
That time in prison was partly responsible for the fact he never met Tabasha Criado and his four grandchildren face to face.
But now, he’s hoping to change the past by protecting other’s future
Marzuq Johnson is an imperfect father, "I wish I could have been there they're whole life," he says. He also has an imperfect past, "I spent 12 years in jail." Now --after the death of his daughter, Tabasha Criado, and four children he carries a message. "That's the reason why I want to do something to stop it. I can't go on taking it."
July 18th of last year police arrived to a reported house fire -- only to find Tabasha Criado and her four children moments from passing. Officials say her husband Jordan Criado, stabbed Tabasha and two of the kids. They say he then set the home on fire and attempted to commit suicide.
"I just talked to her 10 hours before it happened. I told her at that time I wanted to spend time with them. She told me, 'Dont worry daddy, it's going to happen.'" Marzuq tells us.
For Marzuq, the news came as a shock. He had never met his 30 year old daughter and grandkids as Tabasha's mother he says, left while still pregnant.
What made the event even more painful was his plans to meet with her the next month for the very first time, "Everyone was really excited we were finally getting together, next thing i know they're dead."
However, this isn't the first encounter with domestic violence for Marzuq. He tells us, "I grew up watching my sisters being raped. This was prior to Martin Luther King, and no one gave a damn about a black child being mistreated, by his own especially."
He says two of his sisters died
because of abusive relationships.One of them, Elnora, an older sibling, murdered by her husband months before relatives knew.
"Some one finally went from school to house asking where mother was," he says. "They asked the kids where's your mother. One of the kids said she's in the backyard. The person went to back yard didn't see a body. He pointed at the ground and said she's right over there ... the sucker had killed her and buried her."
Now, Marzuq is staying in Medford. looking for ways to help others find options before they become a victim or victimize another.
" I want to see what programs we have to help people," remarks Marzuq, "... and how we can promote them."
He's in contact with United Way, and works a small plot at Access Community Gardens in honor of Tabasha and the children.
"I try to plant five of everything, one for each of them," he states.
Tending the garden waiting to attend the trial of Jordan Criado this coming February.
And he says amongst his many regrets, one that haunts him --he never got to meet his only granddaughter, two year old Aurora Criado.
"My favorite memory was a word from my only granddaughter," he tells us. "She came up with her own word for me, Brampa. I look at her picture sometime and I say 'Brampa loves you.'"
Remembering those he's lost, those he never got to love.
"Your going to lose everything you have, one day you give up even that body that's yours. I'm grateful for the time God gave to talk with my daughter and grandkids."