On or about February 4, 2010, Joseph and Summer McStay and their two sons, 4-year-old Gianni and 3-year-old Joseph Jr. vanished abruptly from their home in Fallbrook in San Diego County, California. Evidence at the home suggests they left suddenly, without planning or packing. A neighbor's security camera was triggered at 7:47 pm on Thursday, February 4, 2010, when what appeared to their family vehicle, a white 1996 Isuzu Trooper, left the neighborhood. Cell phone records show a call of one minute duration at 8:28 pm that same evening, made by Joseph McStay to his business partner, Chase Merritt. Countless theories were offered in explanation.
And now the bodies have been found.
Authorities in San Bernardino County confirmed Friday that the human remains found buried in shallow graves in a remote desert area were those of a San Diego area family that vanished years ago.
The remains were discovered Monday, when a off-road motorcyclist riding through the area came across a smattering of bones. The location was about 50 yards from a dirt road.
Authorities said it appeared that animals had dug into the one- to two-foot graves, and had scattered some of the remains.
Autopsies are expected to be completed Friday. San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said that the deaths have been ruled as homicides but the cause of death will not be released because of the ongoing investigation.
Now that the mystery of where the family ended up has been answered, a whole new investigation into how they got there has begun.
"We've only spent a day or two looking into this, and we have a lot of work to do to get up to speed," McMahon told reporters at a Friday news conference at sheriff's department headquarters.
"It's not really the outcome we were looking for," said Joseph's brother, Michael McStay, having to pause at the podium as he began to cry. "It gives us courage to know they're together and they're in a better place."
"It's been a tough road," he said, as he asked for time and space to "go through the grieving process."
Now he desperately wants answers. "If it's the last thing I do, I want to, I just want to know when it's over."
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