Authorities on Friday, November 7, 2014, announced that they have arrested a 57-year-old business partner on suspicion of murder in the deaths of Joseph McStay and his family, whose remains were found in shallows graves last year on the edge of the desert in Victorville.
At a news conference hosted by the San Bernardino County district attorney and the Sheriff’s Department, authorities said Charles “Chase” Merritt had been arrested on suspicion of killing Joseph and Summer McStay and their two young boys
The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma. Investigators said they believe the killings took place at the family’s home in Fallbrook in San Diego County, but did not release a motive.
Merrit was arrested Wednesday and will be eligible for the death penalty, Dist. Atty. Mike Ramos said.
“I don’t need to tell you this is a cold and callous murder on an entire family,” Ramos said.
The McStays disappeared without a trace in 2010, their car found abandoned in the parking lot of a mini-mall near the Mexican border.
In November 2013, investigators identified the remains of four people found in two desert graves as those of Joseph and Summer McStay and their two boys, Joseph Jr. and Gianni. At the time the family went missing, Joseph Jr. was 3 and Gianni was 4.
The family’s remains were found by a motorcyclist riding through a remote area off the 15 Freeway outside Victorville.
It was a tragic end to what had been long-running missing persons case that befuddled investigators and family.
Investigators, alerted by concerned relatives, found no sign of a struggle in the McStay’s Fallbrook home after they were reported missing in February 2010.
Neighbors said they hadn’t seen them for days and started feeding the family’s dogs.
Investigators said at the time that the family’s life appeared normal and then one day they simply vanished.
The case was initially handled by San Diego County sheriff’s officials, but the investigation is now being led by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
(via The LA Times)