Family missing for 3 years found buried in the desert – along with murder weapon
New UK|January 17, 2022
Loved ones had clung to hope after the McStays vanished without a trace
GAIL SHORTLAND
A carton of eggs and half-prepared vegetables sat on the kitchen counter in the McStay family’s suburban home. There were two small bowls of popcorn on the sofa and their two dogs, Bear and Digger, were wandering around in the back yard. But there was no sign of Joseph and Summer or their children Gianni, four, and Joseph Jr, three. It was also clear they hadn’t been there for some days and loved ones hadn’t heard from them either. It looked as though the McStay family had just upped and walked out... but why?

It was February 2010 and Joseph, 40, and Summer, 43, had only moved into their home in Fallbrook, California, four months earlier. Joseph ran a decorative water fountain business, called Earth Inspired Products, with the help of his business associate, Charles ‘Chase’ Merritt – a welder who helped with the construction.

Summer was a licensed real estate agent and devoted mum. They worked hard and raised their family with fun and laughter.

On February 15, the concerned family visited their home and there was no sign of them. The last time they had been seen was on February 4, when Joseph had met Merritt. He was the last person Joseph had called as well. There was no sign of forced entry or any sign of a struggle to suggest they’d been taken against their will.

The family were declared missing. Soon after, the McStays’ car, a white Isuzu Trooper, was found parked at a shopping mall near the US-Mexican border and CCTV showed a similar-looking family walking into Mexico. On their computer, investigators found searches looking up what type of documents kids might need to travel in Mexico and it looked like someone had researched Spanish lessons. Had they gone to start a new life in Mexico? No one could think why they would. They hadn’t packed anything and there was over $100,000 untouched in their accounts.

Joseph’s mum, Susan Blake, helped Merritt access money to keep the business going but the company couldn’t work without Joseph at the helm. Susan sent Joseph emails begging him to get in touch.

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