Authorities found the bodies of the missing McStay family one hundred miles from their house across the Californian border in the Mexican desert. Further reports noted the family was slain in their house before being moved to the desert by a man familiar with the family.
San Bernardino County Sheriff, John McMahon, and fellow investigators believe Joseph McStay, 40, his wife, Summer, 43, and their 4-year-old and 3-year-old sons, Gianni and Joseph, were bludgeoned to death at their San Diego County residence located in Fallbrook, on Feb. 4, 2010.
Joseph McStay’s business associate, Charles “Chase” Merritt, 57, has been charged with four counts of murder. Merritt has served time in prison before for burglary and receiving stolen property; he did not enter a plea bargain during his initial court appearance; and was due back to court in November. Merritt’s attorney, Robert Ponce, failed to immediately respond to calls and emails regarding his client.
Authorities haven’t discussed a motive or any details of the family’s murder. Information regarding evidence found at the house or at the site of the graves haven’t been released to the public. The family’s remains were found by an off-road enthusiast late last year near Victorville and Interstate 15.
There wasn’t a “smoking gun” to help investigators draw any conclusions for the case. After years since the murder, a private agency re-examined 4,500 pages of evidence, served 60 search warrants, and conducted 200 interviews. Further evidence collected at the gravesite also helped settle the prolonged case.
Joseph McStay designed and installed home water features for a living. Investigators say Merritt, who was an owner of a waterfall company, met with McStay at a restaurant the night the family was murdered.
The investigation began when the family vanished from their home without previous notice and was reported missing. Investigators found their dogs unattended and malnourished, eggs rotting on the counter, and bowls of popcorn around the house. Four days after their disappearance, the families white Isuzu Trooper was located at a shopping center a walking distance from Tijuana, Mexico. Surveillance tapes showed what investigators thought was the family walking across the border, but that evidence was later disproved.
Charles Merritt was arrested on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. Distraught family members received some peace of mind, but remained troubled with unanswered questions. “Joseph was a great brother, a great father,” said Michael McStay, the brother of Joseph as he choked back tears. “He would have done anything to protect those boys and Summer and he tried to help Chase and provide work for this guy and this is how he was repaid… He’ll get what he’s got coming to him.”