One of the most shocking crimes in American history has finally found closure after over three years of investigation.
In February of 2010, the McStay family of Fallbrook, California disappeared without a trace. After being reported as missing by the patriarch’s brother, police launched an investigation that uncovered several strange clues and led to a number of frightening theories. The way it was resolved will shock you.
In mid-February of 2010, after trying for days to contact his brother, Joseph, Mike McStay went to his house and forced his way in. when he gained entry, he found two bowls of uneaten popcorn on the sofa, a carton of eggs sitting on the counter in the kitchen, and the McStay family dog in the back yard. The dog had not been fed for days and there was no sign of Joseph, his wife Summer, or their two young sons, Gianni and Joseph Jr. anywhere.
Mike McStay immediately contacted the local police and they launched an investigation.
They were able to determine that the last time anyone had seen the family was on February 4. They also found that the family’s car had been towed from a shopping center parking lot in San Ysidro, a suburb of San Diego near the Mexican border, on February 8.
This led investigators to review surveillance video from the border crossing, where they spotted a clip of what appeared to be a family of four matching the McStay’s descriptions casually strolling across the border into Mexico.
Over the next couple of years, witnesses would occasionally come forward to claim they had seen the McStays in Mexico, which caused the police to believe that they had simply left their lives in the United States voluntarily.
But family members did not agree with the official narrative, saying that Summer McStay was too fearful of the Mexican drug war to allow her children to live there.
An alternate theory forwarded by Joseph’s business partner, Chase Merritt, was that Joseph had been in fear of his wife and that she might have been trying to poison him. Chase Merritt was also the last person known to have been in contact with the family.
Some amateur detectives and researches thought this plausible and suggested that Summer McStay may have killed her family and then taken her own life in a bizarre murder-suicide.
The family rejected this idea as well, refusing to believe that Summer would have killed her own children.
A huge break came three years later on November 11, 2013, when a motorcyclist discovered two shallow graves with the remains of four humans near Victorville, California.
Two days later, it was confirmed that the remains of the two adults belonged to Joseph and Summer.
Medical examiners from San Bernardino County determined that all four had been killed by blunt-force trauma to the head.
With this news, the McStay family gave up hope of finding them alive. It did disprove any theories that the family had been killed by Summer.
Shortly after, the investigation reopened and focused on Joseph’s partner, Merritt. After looking into his affairs, they saw that in the days after the disappearance of the family Merritt wrote a number of checks totaling over twenty thousand dollars from Joseph’s business account.
Further, they reexamined the family’s car and found Merritt’s DNA all over the vehicle. They believe Merritt parked their car in the shopping center to throw off the investigators.
Merritt was charged with the murders and lesser charges and are seeking the death penalty.
Since being arrested in November of 2014, Merritt has been through five lawyers and is awaiting trial.