Who killed Joey and Summer McStay – Review of the case, Part Two

UPDATE 11/7/14 – Chase has been arrested for the murder of the McStay family.

I have written many articles on the McStay case.  Please follow the links in the article below or put McStay in the search box above to see them all.

It seems, despite all the evidence that Patrick McStay, Joseph’s father gave to the police that showed that his family did NOT voluntarily leave, the more the police dug in their heels and clung to their theory that they did leave voluntarily.

It’s as thought the police concluded a grainy video, a computer search and the purchase of a Spanish speaking software product confirmed the McStay’s went to Mexico for good.  The hundreds of other facts, like they left their dog behind, left at night, left behind a substantial amount of money in the bank, text messages, and a million other clues was disregarded.  Even a PI who investigated the case, told them there was foul play and he felt the family was dead. There was more evidence that the family disappeared INvoluntarily than voluntarily, but the police decided the latter was what happened. And you couldn’t shake them from that thought no matter how much information Patrick threw at them.

Patrick worked the case over the years and gave the police bank statements showing someone transferring money from Joseph’s bank account via Paypal starting on Feb. 6, way before they were reported missing.  Patrick even found an email from the same person sent from Joseph’s email account to Summer’s that was threatening in nature, stating he would shut down Joseph’s website if he did not pay him money.   The person also used his own grandfather’s account to transfer money from Joseph’s account.

Per Patrick, instead of the police embracing the information, he was told that what the person did was not illegal, because he had the password, which Patrick told them they he was never given, and must have gotten by hacking into the account or some other way.  The threatening email was ignored as well.  That same person was arrested for battery, two years after the McStay’s went missing.

As many know over the course of the years, Patrick has come up with several suspects.  Please note, that Patrick has had suspects in mind since his family first disappeared.  The police never mention a person of interest they were looking at.

I am sure in order to protect himself, Patrick has referred to the people by their initials.

Although the above individual I spoke of before, who transferred money from Patrick’s account and eventually sold Joseph’s fountain website seems like a viable person of interest, it is not the only one, although after what I am about to tell you, you won’t be able to imagine there is anyone else.

The person that Patrick is the most interested in the police talking to is the man that Joseph asked the Child Protection Services to check on in regards to abuse in a home.  (Please note that many people were talked to regarding this case via telephone and not in persons–kinda hard to tell if someone is lying when you are talking to them on the phone.)  When the person found out what Joseph had done, he threatened him.  Summer seemed to be the most worried about the incident and even talked to Little Joseph and Gianni about it and recorded a video of their answers.  The person told Joseph, [approximately] he needed to shut her [Summer] up or he would do it.  The case was dropped by CPS and found unfounded.  This is the most recent event that happened to the family before they disappeared.

Another suspect, as far as social media is concerned is a partner of Joseph’s that he called the day he disappeared and in fact called many, many time over the course of the day.

According to T-Mobile G1 cell phone records for Joseph’s phone, at 7:47 p.m. on Thursday night, he made one outbound call.,  Then at 8:28 p.m., Joseph’s phone called Chase Merritt.  Merritt has said publicly he didn’t answer the phone, and wished he had.  There were no further calls or text from that phone.  Mail Online did an interview with Chase after I wrote this article today.  You can read it here.

And, while we are on the subject of cell phones, lets jump over to Summer’s cell phone.  She received a call at 4:42 p.m. on Thursday, that pinged the same tower as Joseph’s on the night of the disappearance.  Then on Friday, eight text messages were received on her phone, three from Joseph and Summer’s friend.  On Saturday four texts. Those text messages pinged another tower on the opposed site of the San Luis Rey River per Patrick.

What many may not know is that Joseph did pay this individual a lot of money to leave his website alone.  As per the deal he was to no longer bother him, his family or the website, but here he is calling Summer the day after she went missing.  And he also was the one, according to the LA Times, that called the police on Feb. 10, and told them he was not able to reach the family.  Four days later Joseph’s brother, Mike McStay, also called the sheriff’s office to report them missing.

Interestingly, somewhere along the line, a deputy, told the McStay family that “Something bad had happened.”  The McStay family hoped that the statement would help reclassified the case, but the Citizen’s Law Enforcement review board said there was no evidence uncovered to show a crime had been committed to warrant another classification in 2012.

Lastly, there has been mention of a McGyver that may be involved but I have seen nothing but friendship and concern from him and he should not be considered.  Even he has asked why law enforcement did not get his cell phone records in order to help find the McStay’s, and it was left to him to “battle trying to get this from my carrier.”

Tolls and subscriber information is a routine procedure that all law enforcement does and there is even a form used to get this information, that is filled-out and faxed to the cell phone company that has a department that specializes in honoring those requests.   Why the police did not gather McGyver’s cell phone information is a mystery to me, other than they had all they needed from Summer’s records, and dismissed McGyver as involved early on.

You might also like, Did the police rush judgement on what happened to the McStay’s?

McStay:  The 67 inch apart tire tracks

About Missing Persons Admin 4569 Articles
Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.


  1. I also wanted to add that “the abducted from home” scenario also doesn't seem to coincide with that 8:28pm phone call to Chase Merritt. If they had been abducted, why would Joey dial Chase's number instead of 911? Or his mother or brother? I keep repeating this because it bothers me so much: that hasty retreat from home at 7:47pm doesn't fit with that 8:28pm phone call. Unless it was a mistake, that poor Joey was in such a bad state by that time, that he could only press the redial button/last number dialed.

  2. Makes no sense that hey would leave together – where would a kidnapper sit in the Isuzu? I believe Joseph was probably already dead. The best explanation I can think of is the killer using the ruse of Joseph having an asthma attack and needed his spare medication. It's even possible that CM was using Joseph's phone and texting Summer – maybe he texted to say CM was dropping him off at the hospital and then coming by to get her and the medication, and unfortunately the kids. I was even wondering if there is any hospital near Old Bonsall Bridge and that was where he ended up killing Summer and the kids, made his last phone call to his phone which was left back home with his accomplice and then dumped the phones. Took the bodies back to where Joseph's body was and hid the Isuzu in the garage. Next day or day after, took bodies out and buried them and then day after that ditched the Isuzu at the border. At that point, no one was looking for the Isuzu yet so no biggy there. It wasn't until all staging and alibis are set that CM started to raise the flag. If his interview in the Daily Mail is accurate at all then I find him a bit of a psychopath in that he paints himself as a victim, disparages Summer and even tries to paint himself as somewhat of hero in all this – all right after his best friend is found with his family buried in the desert. Just the location of the bodies in relation to this theory makes perfect sense. Just from what I can gather off the internet, I would say most likely CM is your main suspect. Are there any confirmed sightings of Joseph or actual phone conversations with him, besides those with CM, after his meeting with CM on the day they disappeared? Can anyone say for sure he came home from that meeting with CM? I would say that if the answer is no to those questions then it is obvious who the killer is.

  3. @ Anon

    You make excellent points. I checked and there is a Medical Center, Temecula Valley Cardiology Medical Center in Bonsall (right off route 76). It's on Mission Road, not sure how close that is to the Bonsall Bridge. However, there is a hospital that is closer, right in Fallbrook: https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF-8&q=hospitals+in+Bonsall+CA&fb=1&gl=us&hq=hospitals&hnear=0x80dc7827823130c9:0x58dc41a89ebd303b,Bonsall,+CA&ei=ejqQUurCMpLwkQeQhoCoCg&ved=0CJABELYD

    The only issue is that supposedly, no other fingerprints, other than the family's, were found in the Isuzu.

    At the very least, poor Summer and the kids were abducted from the Fallbrook/Bonsall area. Her phone seems to have been disposed of there since it was still pinging on Saturday morning. I think, if anything, they were transferred to another vehicle. More than one person had to be involved in this.

    In regards to the phone calls, that's actually kind of weird. Joey made and received numerous calls that day, from morning until very early afternoon (at least 30 from numerous people, including CM), before his meeting with Chase Merritt. He also checked his voicemal. In any case, after the meeting, the calls start again a little after 3pm, but only to Chase Merritt–there were 4 in total. Joey did check his voicemail twice that afternoon, though, at around 4:30pm. I see that he received 2 texts at 5:47pm but I do not see that he answered those texts–there don't seem to be any outgoing texts at that time.

    I'm curious, does anyone know if police can access the actual text messages themselves and not just the phone numbers from the phone company?

    I'm not sure if anyone can verify that he actually did make it home, but both his truck and the Isuzu Trooper were in the driveway that night. His truck was left unlocked, which I have always found odd. But maybe that's not so odd since the family kept the toys in the back of the Isuzu for at least one night (apparently they were purchased on 2/3), so maybe they felt safe in doing so.

  4. I find it really strange if nobody can say they either saw or talked to Joseph after meeting Chase Merritt. It is quite normal to focus on the last person to see someone alive – it should be the starting point of the investigation because that's when this whole mystery starts… The fingerprints or lack of fingerprints in the Isuzu would mean the killer wore gloves – remember this is someone who went to a lot of trouble to make it look like they disappeared, they wouldn't make an amateur mistake like that. What would be the point of driving all the way up to Rancho Cucomunga for a meeting with someone when you have to keep calling them on the way home? Why wouldn't Joseph call Summer to say he's on his way home? Something seems very fishy already. I don't think the truck being unlocked is all that odd – if the family left it that way, it's because they didn't feel unsafe in their neighborhood. If the killer left it that way, he has no reason to care. I don't know if the truck is very significant. We know for sure the killer drove the Isuzu to the border so that is more of a key piece. Do you know if they tested the Tupperware container that had Joseph's asthma medication for prints? Or how about the kids car seats – I think if it showed only Summer's prints then that could help show that Joseph was not with them when they were taken from the house. I also have a real problem with the fact that at no time does anyone make a call to 911 or anyone nearby that could help if they were in trouble. That means they never had a chance. To me that means Joseph and Summer were most likely not together when they died. I was wondering about text messages also – maybe the NSA records can be searched now that they know a crime has occurred. Whoever did this is probably getting pretty worried right now – I'm sure it won't take long to get him…

  5. I think excluding any theory based on the absence of a struggle is a mistake. If a subject had my child (or my spouse) at gunpoint and ordered me out the door I would do what I was told hoping for either a good outcome or a better opportunity to arise.

  6. I agree. There have been other cases where harm to the children was used in order to inhibit a fight from the parents. In fact the most logical explanation to coinsice with all the facts, is that there was an abduction at the house. It's the only thing that really makes sense. Summer and Joey wouldn't be lured that easily with the kids in tow. Certainly one would have stayed home, while the other went off if someone had tried to get them to meet up somewhere. It was the kids bedtime. It makes more sense that Summer and the children (perhaps Joey then, or maybe Joey later) were quickly removed and the worst of what happened took place elsewhere.

  7. There's really no evidence Joseph came home that day. My theory is that he was already dead and the killer had to get rid of the rest of the family because Summer would have suspected something wrong when her husband didn't come home. But the killer didn't just come in and kill them – he made it look like the whole family just up and disappeared. Why would a killer go to all that trouble? So it is not random. If Joseph never made it home that day because he was killed in Rancho Cucomonga then it makes sense that the killer went back to get the rest of the family, kill them and then bury them all and then place the car at the border. The killer wouldn't know how much time he has before someone notices the family is gone so he has to hurry at this point – that's why the graves are so close to Rancho Cucomonga and why they are so shallow.

  8. Ask yourself who would benefit the most from this family being dead. Follow the money. Whoever is responsible for this tragedy, they were close to the family. The boys were killed because they knew the identity of the killer(s). If it were the Cartel, the bodies would have been found right away. They want bodies to be found to send a message. No disrespect to the family, but I think that family members and close friends need to ruled out as suspects first. I think this was a planned murder. I think the graves were already dug. Can you imagine anyone out there 50 yards from the I-15 freeway which is heavily traveled, with four people they just murdered, digging two giant holes. It took some time to dig those graves, shallow or not. The CHP patrol that area heavily. One more point. I was one of those who donated to the family website. I think that info should be made public. How much was donated, what it was used for, who had supervision over it. Etc. What I thought was odd is that the reward money for info helping find the family never changed. $1000 Just curious. Thoughts and prayers to the family.

  9. Well killing a family of 4 is not easy and the risk is huge if you get caught so it would have to be a huge sum of money and getting it would have to be a sure thing. Threat of a loss of income is practically the same. I think that's what happened at his meeting with Chase. Joseph maybe found out something that he didn't like and went there to terminate the business relationship, things got heated and Chase killed him. You are right about the graves being dug beforehand – it's possible. Based upon the tracks found at the site, my guess is someone was using a trailer with ATVs in it for cover or something similar when they buried the bodies. I also think all suspects need to be ruled out and will be – starting with people close to them, that's pretty standard in any good investigation.

  10. I believe that considering everything that has been said about this case and all the theories that have been submitted, your ideas seem to make the most sense. Follow the money. So true. Who benefits the most. Right on the head. To kill a family of four and bury them is no easy task. This was no spur of the moment crime. It had to be planned. This was personal. Someone was jealous of Josephs success. The life style he was living. They felt like he “kicked them to the curb” From what I understand Joseph and his brother Mike had a business that went belly-up. What was Mike doing for a living before taking over Joseph business after he disappeared. Your comment about the donations is good too. I am sure that a substantial amount was donated. Where is it ? I am curious if Mike has access to that money or has a say on where it is spent/used. All very good practical ideas. I hope you dont think that I am stomping on your insight. Just considered your points,added some suspicions of my own

  11. No, not at all. For the record, I never pointed the finger at any one individual. I never wanted to imply that I felt it was a member of the family. I felt that it was someone CLOSE to the family. Someone they trusted. Any good investigation is going to eliminate family and friends first. I want the family to know that I am so sorry for your loss and that I did not want to add to their grief by accusing any of them of this horrific crime. Mike, when I saw you on Beth Holloway, I cried with you. I felt your pain. Hang in there. The truth will prevail

  12. Wouldn't it be easy to rule Chase Merritt out by checking where his phone pinged during the phone calls that Joey and him made from the end of their meeting to when they went missing….If his phone only pinged near his home then wouldn't that confirm his alibi?
    Meanwhile if his phone pinged near their house, at the bridge or anywhere in between then wouldn't it make him the prime suspect?
    I have no opinion either way at the moment…just a thought I had.

  13. Unless Chase realized that would be the case and knew he needed an alibi so he left his phone at home with an accomplice. I'm wondering if there are any sightings or conversations with Joseph after that meeting with Chase – can anyone say for sure Joseph made it home that day?

  14. From what I understand, Joey deposited a check after their meeting. The bank he used had a branch in that area, near the meeting. I'm not sure if anyone at the bank saw him, though. Or, if they have any surveillance vid from the bank. But a check was deposited. As to anyone verifying if Joey did make it home that night, I honestly don't know. He didn't speak with anyone that evening other than Chase Merritt via phone.

  15. Okay, I have commented recently about how I think it was a planned murder. That the killer(s) were someone close to the family. Someone they trusted. I asked everyone to think who would benefit the most from this family being dead. This is not a movie. In real life for someone to murder a family of four, bury them in the desert, leave their vehicle at the border, create a scenario that they were looking for info on Mexico with the computer ( which by the way,worked SDSD !) was no easy task. Who has access to your home computer? Family. Who would have time to stage the scene at the house w/o neighbors being suspicious? Someone the neighbors were used to seeing. Family. I am just going to flat out say it. Mike(brother of Joseph) you are guilty as hell.  You and Joseph had tried in the past to get a business going but it failed. Joseph was going on with his life. Things were taking off for him. His business was starting to prosper. He just moved into a 320,000 5 bedroom house, had money in the bank and was happy. But you were not included in any of that. You felt that Joseph had kicked you to the curb. You could not live with that. You felt that he owed you, and you finally snapped. Summer and the boys had to go because they could identify you. The family disappeared in Feb. 2010. On March 26, 2010 you told a newspaper Quote ” My fear is that I am looking for 2 adult shallow graves “. It is reported that you took over the business after they went missing. I am sure that a lot of money was donated to the family website. Where is it ? Every time I see you on the news, you are enjoying the attention. Try harder to squeeze some tears out. All an act. I feel for the family. The only person to benefit from this tragedy seems to be you. You even wrote a book. More profit. You made a comment that they are together in a better place. HELLO ! They were brutally murdered and buried in the desert like trash ! How dare you? They trusted you. To the cops……Follow the money. The truth will prevail.

  16. What evidence are you basing your conclusions on? You are merely putting forth a scenario based on a lot of assumptions – I would hardly declare anyone guilty as hell with the information you provide. Many people are speculating that Michael McStay is guilty of this crime but the only evidence put forth is hearsay and further speculation. This was not carried out by Michael McStay – this was carried out by a criminal, someone who knows very well about reasonable doubt and how to properly stage a crime scene, someone able to keep their cool even when it comes to murdering children, someone who has been to prison before and doesn't want to go back, someone who knows what it takes to get away with this… I actually find it funny that many people comment on what an idiot Michael McStay is and then accuse of him pulling off a crime of high intelligence. Those that suspect Mike will surely be surprised at the outcome of this investigation.

  17. To Anon at 10:16 – is this you Rick Baker? Still trying to slander the McStay family? To all of you interested in this case, please visit the official McStay family website to see what they have to say about this slanderous low life. It doesn't seem that to him that this family has gone through enough so he has taken to calling them names and making false accusations all over the internet. When he gets confronted on his own blog site, he removes anything that goes against him and then eventually shuts off the comments when he doesn't like what people have to say. Hopefully the family will succeed in a slander suit against him – I am copying all of his comments (including when he referred to the McStay family as maggots on his website), and false accusations in order to assist the McStay family with any lawsuit they plan against him.

  18. In speculating on this case, which everyone is doing because any thoughts written/spoken about this case are all pure speculation–but, when speculating, it seems like someone would have to know the layout of the home, and the office or work area where the computer & supplies were/are. They would also need to know the dogs, quite well, no doubt. They'd also need a way to be seen without snoopy neighbors batting an eye. They'd also need to be trusted enough to be allowed into the home, around the home. They'd also be someone who knew/knows how to make body-sized holes in land & have the ability to be able to drive around or be seen around/or with tools/equipment needed to do manual labor requiring such. It would be interesting if this person demonstrated, sometime in their life, proof they can break into the McStay home easily. They'd be someone who would imitate, almost compulsively, Joseph McStay in subtle and outright obvious ways. They'd be someone who'd collect every word, every article, copy every broadcast which had to do with the family missing story to now their body recovery story to even the current investigation stories–they read every comment on every article or discussion board affiliated. (wave) Hi Mikey.

  19. i realize you're receiving this msg. almost a yr. after this post but I wanted to reassure you that you in no way implied that anyone in the family had anything to do with this hideous crime. The person above who suggested this was clearly reading something into what you had written that was not there. I'm sure it's been upsetting to have anyone suggest that's what you said but, in my estimation, there isn't even a hint of you connecting anyone in the family with this crime.

    Rest in Peace Joseph, Summer, Gianni and Joseph Jr. and blessing to all family members and friends.

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