A Fallbrook family of four who disappeared and were found dead almost four years later were victims of foul play despite no evidence of that being found during a search of their home, a San Diego County sheriff‘s homicide detective wrote in a search warrant unsealed Friday.
Superior Court Judge Runston Maino ordered the public release of four search warrants in the probe into the deaths of Joseph McStay, his wife, Summer, and sons Gianni, 4, and Joey Jr., 3.
On Nov. 5, San Bernardino County authorities arrested Charles “Chase” Merritt — a Riverside County resident who was Joseph McStay’s business partner in a decorative-fountain business — and charged him with four counts of murder.
According to one of the search warrants, Joseph McStay’s brother, Michael, called San Diego sheriff’s officials on Feb. 15, 2010, saying that his older brother and his family had not been seen or heard from since Feb. 4.
Homicide investigators who entered the Fallbrook home found two small bowls half-filled with popcorn in the living room and a lamp on the floor in the upstairs master bedroom.
In the walk-in closet were several open suitcases with folded clothing inside.
Two family dogs were in the back yard.
Because the McStay family had been missing for almost two weeks, sheriff’s homicide Detective Troy DuGal wrote in one of the search warrants it was his conclusion that “some or all of the McStay family has been kidnapped or killed.”
The bodies of the entire McStay family were discovered in November 2013, buried in shallow graves outside Victorville in San Bernardino County.
A hearing for Merritt was scheduled in San Bernardino County for next Friday.
— City News Service
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