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On February 4, 2010, a family of four vanished from their home. Joseph Mcstay was 40 at the time he went missing and his wife Summer was 43. They had two kids; Gianni was 4 and Joseph Jr. was 3. The family's home was searched after they disappeared and there was a carton of eggs left on the counter and two bowls of popcorn left on the sofa. It was obvious that the family left in a hurry. Were they running from something, someone?
One February 9, 2010, Joseph McStay's father received an email from McStay's business partner, Chase Merritt, stating that he hadn't heard from the family in a few days. During the investigation, Merritt was the prime suspect in the family's disappearance. Phone records show that Joseph called Merritt on the night of February 4, 2010 but the call went unanswered as Merritt was watching a movie. Chase Merritt did admit to spending an hour with the family the morning they went missing but claimed to have no contact with the family after that.
During the investigation, the McStay's family computer was searched and extensive searches for online Spanish lessons were found as well as a search for, “What documents do children need for traveling to Mexico?” This led investigators the belief that the family ran away to Mexico in a hurry. The family's SUV was found in a strip mall close to the border and this further support the theory.
A few theories floated around the internet and through the investigation: was the family was murdered, had they fled to Mexico to avoid financial problems, or took a trip in the desert and got lost? Three years after the family's disappearance, one of these theories proved to be correct. On November 11, 2013 a motorcyclist found two shallow graves near Victorville, California. All four bodies found were confirmed to be the McStay family.
All four people died of blunt force trauma to the head caused by a three pound sledgehammer found near the graves. Joseph was struck four times and had an extension cord wrapped around his neck and was wrapped in a white towel. Four year old Gianni was struck seven times.
After the bodies were found, cops turned to their original suspect, Chase Merritt. Merritt's DNA was found in the families SUV on the steering wheel and the gear shift. Merritt claimed he never drove the family's car. During the interviews, Merritt also referred to the family in past tense saying things like, “He was my best friend.” Chase Merritt also wrote a check to himself out of McStay's business account for $21,000 a few days after the family went missing.
Today, no one has been arrested and the case remains cold.