Christian Martin, a pilot for an American Airlines subsidiary and former decorated Army Major once the subject of previous legal controversy, now stands accused in the triple murder of a Kentucky woman and two men, one of whom was a popular local musician.
Martin, 51, who is sometimes known as “Kit Martin,” was arrested at the Louisville airport on May 11, 2019 and accused of murdering Calvin Phillips, Pamela Phillips, and Edward Dansereau in Christian County, Kentucky. According to WKDZ Radio, in a story on the murders in 2018, “Calvin Phillips was listed as a potential witness for the prosecution and the defense in the case of Major Christian Martin, who was charged with sexual assault and mishandling classified information.”
Then an Army Major, Martin was indeed accused in a series of other charges in 2016, including misuse of classified materials, but he was only convicted of a couple of lesser offenses. Even back then, Martin was named as a person of interest in the deaths of the couple and Dansereau, but he had some intense defenders online, who argued the allegations were the product of a high-conflict marital situation.
“Martin faced child rape charges, accusations he beat his step-son and charges he mishandled classified information. That information on CDs and laptops had been discovered by Calvin Phillips. He was Martin’s next door neighbor, who was murdered before he could testify against Martin,” reported Fox 17 Nashville in 2016.
“If someone killed a federal witness, it’s not just an attack on our family. This is an attack on the entire legal system,” Matt Phillips, the couple’s son, said in 2017.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Say Christian Martin Committed Triple Murder & the Pilot Was Arrested at the Airport
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced that on May 10, 2019, a Christian County grand jury “indicted Christian Richard Martin for the 2015 murders of Calvin and Pamela Phillips and Edward Dansereau.”
Martin was indicted “on three counts of murder; one count of arson; one count of attempted arson, burglary in the first degree; and three counts of tampering with physical evidence. The indictment was sealed until Martin was taken into custody,” according to the AG’s statement.
“He was arrested early Saturday morning in Louisville, at the Louisville International Airport, with help from the United States Marshall’s Service, Christian County Sheriff’s Office and Louisville Metro Police.”
Authorities say that, after the murders, “Mr. Martin moved from Christian County, Kentucky, and was living in North Carolina at the time of the indictment.”
Martin spoke out to WSMV-TV in a lengthy video interview before the murder charges and said he knew the victims; the victims had once asked him to go to a festival. “And then it didn’t work out.” He said he got a bad vibe. “I said I don’t want anything to do with these people,” he alleged, claiming he hadn’t seen them for a long time before the deaths. He said that “Ed, directly across from me here, was a good guy.” He made a series of allegations about his former ex-wife.
He denied killing the three. “I don’t know why anybody would want to do something to them.”
2. One Victim Was Shot & Two Others Were Located Inside a Burned Car abandoned in a Corn Field
The indictment “stems from events that occurred on or about November 18, 2015, in which Calvin Phillips was found shot to death in his home located in Pembroke, Kentucky,” the AG’s press release states.
Dasereau was the neighbor to the other two victims.
“The bodies of Mr. Phillips’ wife, Pamela, and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau, were found a few miles away in a corn field in a burned up car owned by Mrs. Phillips.”
Calvin Phillips was found shot to death in the basement of his home.
According to their obituary, “Calvin Lee Phillips (59) & Pamela J Phillips (57), passed away Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, in Pembroke.”
“Cal filled his time on earth with a zest for life and laughter. He traveled the world both in the military as well as a private citizen, having seen numerous continents, countries and people all over the US and the world. Never ceasing to be amazed at nature, god’s beauty or simple things that make the world great,” said the obit.
“Pam made the most of her time as a mother, coworker and citizen. She spent a near decade devoting her time as a stay at home mom, then reentered the workforce with vigor. She was active in the community and often spent with her free time to better those who are in need.”
3. Christian Martin Was Accused of Downloading a ‘Hit List’ While Serving in the Army Along With Other Charges
The charges that Martin faced in 2016 were very serious, but he was acquitted of some of them.
When it comes to the classified information accusation, Martin was accused of downloading information “such as emails and even a kill list, to his personal laptop while stationed in the Middle East,” according to The Leaf Chronicle.
He was socked in 2016 with a series of charges, according to the newspaper, including “violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for sexual assault, other assault charges, conduct unbecoming an officer, mishandling classified information and communicating a threat.”
“The kill list was one that named various targets and who would authorize whether U.S. forces could shoot on sight or capture the individuals,” the newspaper reported, adding, “Martin was found guilty by the court-martial on lesser charges of two counts of mishandling classified information and two counts of simple assault.” He ended up receiving three months in jail and dismissal from the U.S. Military, Fox 17 reported.
According to the newspaper, Martin’s marriage to wife Joan Harmon dissolved in a high-conflict manner. The defense argued that she “was already married to a man in Tennessee” and “pleaded guilty to bigamy in a Kentucky court,” according to the Leaf Chronicle. Kentucky.com reported that “Martin’s former wife, Joan Harmon, had turned over to the FBI some military discs labeled ‘secret.’”
In 2015, the National Coalition of Men put out a press release defending Martin. “Major Christian ‘Kit’ Martin is a highly decorated Apache helicopter pilot assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell Kentucky. He has an unblemished 27-year military record, several combat deployments, numerous awards, no criminal record, not even a speeding ticket,” the press release indicated.
At his trial on the earlier charges, relatives also defended Martin. “Major Chris Martin is innocent. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind,” Stacey Johnson, Martin’s ex-wife and the mother of his three children, said, according to Fox 17.
Martin received other support online before the murder charges, including from a site called Save Our Heroes Project. It provides some bio information on him, saying, “his father, a Vietnam Vet, served more than three-decades in the USAF and his sister was a career USAF nurse. Kit was an Eagle Scout and served in the Army for 30 years, since he was 17. He was a Calvary Scout, Ranger, Signal Officer, and later a Master Aviator and Apache Helicopter Pilot.”
The site added, “After 9/11, he left a very successful civilian career and returned to active duty in order to defend his country. Within eight years, he completed several combat deployments on the ground and in the air, placing himself in harm’s way almost every day. He earned three Bronze Stars, an Air Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.”
With news of murder charges, family members of the murder victims expressed an “overflowing of emotion, sincere relief, and absolute gratitude to all those who have worked diligently on this case,” states the AG’s release.
“Nov. 18, 2015, Cal Phillips, Pam Phillips and Ed Dansereau were brutally extinguished – beyond recognition from family. Every day, we are haunted by what was done to them and haunted further that someone was still free to do as they wish, beyond the civility of mankind or laws of our nation,” the family members of the victims said in a statement released by the Attorney General.
“We are overwhelmed with this positive step towards resolution for people we love dearly; Cal and Pam Phillips and Ed Dansereau, and the hundreds of friends, family, neighbors, coworkers and others deeply affected by their brutal end. We look forward to justice in court, and we look forward to a verdict to bring an end to this terror, and a fresh start at healing.”
Attorney General Andy Beshear said he met with the family’s son, Matt, “nearly two years ago when Matt was worried that the case had stalled and that justice would not come. Based on that meeting, Beshear accepted a request from the local commonwealth’s attorney to appoint a special prosecutor from the AG’s office to handle the case. After two years of hard work, Beshear announced the indictment.”
“I hope this is a day that brings some justice to these families,” said Beshear. “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
4. American Airlines Confirmed That Martin Was a Pilot for its Subsidiary & Insisted Background Checks Were Conducted
“All of us at American Airlines and PSA Airlines are deeply saddened to have learned about these allegations from 2015,” American Airlines said in a statement.
“Our team was made aware of the indictment this morning after his arrest at Louisville International Airport. We have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members, and we will provide any investigative assistance possible to law enforcement throughout their investigation.”
The airline sought to assure the public that “pilots undergo a criminal background check and recurrent vetting for any derogatory information. In this specific case, Christian Martin was subject to this recurrent vetting without any criminal history that would disqualify him from being a commercial pilot. Martin has worked for PSA Airlines, as a Bombardier CRJ First Officer since January 2018.” Martin has been placed on “administrative suspension pending the outcome of the investigation/court proceedings, which includes the suspension of all travel privileges.”
According to its website, PSA Airlines “is a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines and operates an all-jet American Eagle fleet.”
It’s not clear why Martin was hired due to his past convictions. Heavy left a message with the after-hours line for American Airlines’ public information office seeking answers to that question. “Per your inquiry, all pilots undergo thorough criminal background checks as well as recurrent vetting for any derogatory information. In this case, Christian Martin was subject to the recurrent vetting and no criminal history was found that would disqualify him from being a commercial pilot,” responded Lanesha Gipson, of American Airlines Corporate Communications.
5. Ed Dansereau Was a Popular Local Musician
Ed Dansereau was well-known in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area. “He was a local musician who many people remember from the Parakeet, which is now Tidball’s. He was a piano player, and he would come in and entertain during dinner,” local musician Ernie Small said to The Bowling Green Daily News.
“That was probably in the mid-1970s. He was a fixture in the music scene in and around Bowling Green and played with many groups and people.”
In 2016, a celebration of his life was held in Bowling Green. “Anyone is welcome to join us as we celebrate Dad’s life with love and music,” the Facebook event page read.
Andreas Koch wrote on the page, “I am terribly shocked and so sad to hear that Ed recently passed away. I will never forget him and his wonderful music and I am proud that I met him many years ago. I still hear his great rendition of the beautiful song Bluesette.”
Wrote another man, “The world sure misses this treasure of a man. Party on, Sir Dansereau, party on.” His eulogy, published on the page, read in part, “We’re all aware of Ed’s gift of music. When on stage, he sought to win over everyone…When cooking, Ed sought to fill you with amazing food prepared with love…Ed appreciated tradition and culture more than most.”