Looking back at the McStay case and Chase Merritt – Part One

Wheatlands Avenue recording studio

Almost a year to the day I was standing in the lobby of a recording studio helping to produce a live music show when I received a call from Patrick McStay, the father of missing Joey McStay, his wife, Summer and their two children, Gianni and little Joey. (Read more about the conversation here).

Early on in the McStay case

I had written a lot of stories on the missing McStay family and one of my readers told Patrick to read my stories.  I began communicating with Patrick through emails and later phone calls and text messages, and I voluntarily searched for a private investigator who was willing to look into the case.  In the end the PI was frustrated with the case and felt finding the cell phone that was probably lying underneath the  Bonsall Bridge needed to be done.  He was the first to bring up that a search for the McStay’s in the area where the cell phone pinged, was never done.  Through social media a group came together to go search in that area, but I was told they had to disband as authorities would not allow them to search.

Around this same time, Rick Baker called me after Patrick and him had worked out a deal where Rick was going to do some leg work and write about the experience.  Since Rick called me because of Patrick I felt I could tell him some things that I had discovered.  Soon those things became his things.  Later I would find him repeating what I said as his own words.  I cut off my communications with him, but he continued his research and hounding of the McStay family, until it intruded into their lives so badly, they publicly denounced Baker.  Last I hear, he has been shunned by the police, community and any media that ever had anything to do with him.

You have all heard me say many times that I would not say what I thought happened to the McStays.  I had my own theories, but that was all they were and theories are really only fiction stories.  There were many theories from other people that I quickly dismissed. Because of my own federal law enforcement background, I knew they were not in a witness protection program, and I did not believe the cartels had anything to do with it.  I knew Summer was not trying to poison Joey and she certainly did not kill him and run off.  I believed there was only two scenarios,  One, they did walk away as a family or two, someone close to them had killed them.  I wanted to believe they were alive somewhere in this world and would have held that thought forever if they had not have been found, as I couldn’t bear to think they had been murdered, and we lived in a world where people would kill children.

Although Patrick himself suffered through much criticism for his brashness, underneath it all was a man that only had one thing on his mind and it was to find his family, even though deep-down he knew they were probably dead, because he knew they would never just disappear from his life.

Many times as I wrote stories about the McStay’s, some even requested by Patrick,  I would have to ask Patrick to refresh my memories on some details so I was correct on my facts.   While I worked on 100s of cases a month, he only had one and he was an encyclopedia of knowledge that to this day the San Diego Police Dept. never took advantage of. It amazed me all that he knew and all the documentation he said that they were not interested.

McStay’s Found

When he called me that fateful night, I was torn between producing the radio show and the devastating news that he had just told me.  Trying to explain to a room full of people I was alright, even though I had been told the strangest, most devastating news I had ever heard, was difficult and a little embarrassing.  From puzzled glares across the room, to what is wrong, when I got off the phone, it was hard to handle without breaking into tears.  Although I was sad about the McStays, and in particular the children, I was just as concerned about a man hundreds a miles away, alone with his grief.

By the next morning we both were overwhelmed with media calls and activity as we relayed information back and forth.  I was exhausted by that afternoon and I knew he must have been far worse off than I.  The thought of his ability to keep going, fueled me.

The days slowly began to quiet down and I was haunted by who could have possible done this to the McStays.  When Michael Mcstay, Joey’s brother mentioned tire tracks leading to the grave I had to know more.  Google map is an armchair detectives favorite tool, and the tire tracks leading to the graves was unmistakable.

I had questions I needed answers and I answered my own question in the article, which you can read by clicking here.  I tried my best to take my readers on the journey with me as I researched and came up with what vehicle I felt left the tracks as well as why I felt the tracks were still visible. I went over whether they used a shovel or a backhoe. I truly believed there was evidence there that was invaluable and would help narrow down who might have done such a thing.

Through the research I did on the tires left at the grave sights, I surmised that someone must have put them in the back of a truck and thrown a tarp over it, or piled something on top like firewood and driven them to the location.

Even though this information helped to narrow down suspects in my mind, it was not anything definite.  I was still speculating as to who might have done this.  I never stumbled on who might have killed Joey or Summer, but I always did with the children.  It was hard for me to see a child killer in the eyes of any of the people that I considered who might have done this.  And I was not alone, as many professionals in the field I spoke to could not either.  Who in the world would be capable of killing two small children?

Click here for Part Two

In the comments I as asked if I had any thoughts on Chase’s truck being spotted at or near the McStay home that fateful night…I know back in the crevices of my mind that someone, I believe a neighbor said they saw a white truck parked outside the home.  I believe that it was either said in the video when Michael was inside the home or it was information I picked up else where but it was during that time that Michael was there that a white truck was mentioned.  I am sure that the police are aware of any times that a white truck was seen in that area now, and I bet the information will be kept quiet until the time it is needed to come out.  I know of no other time that a white truck was seen there.  The Isuzu evidently was seen parked backed into the driveway, which it was not normally seen like that.  That leaves it open to theories as to why it was backed in, and one of them could be that it was used to transport and I could be completely wrong about the truck being used.
Read part two on Monday

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

5 Comments

  1. Wonderful post, Jerrie. I also can't fathom the mind of a person who would kill a child. I look at those photos of Chase Merritt from his court appearance, at his eyes, and try to see the monster lurking within. Because let's face it, he an absolute monster, and it boggles my mind. The fact that he was able to walk into that house, a house he visited many times I'm sure, look into the eyes of those innocent children, and kill them in the most violent of ways possible. And by the way, that's not to diminish what he did to both Joey and Summer, because that was also heinous. But the children…I just can't fathom it. It shows a level of psychopathy that just blows my mind. On top of that, to go home, live his life, and look into the eyes of Joey's mother and brother as if nothing happened. Just mind boggling.

  2. Jerrie, I understand this is still an open investigation, and you are in no way trying to jeopardize this case, but is there any way you can answer this:
    Do you have any thoughts or info on whether Chase's truck was spotted at or near the McStay home that fateful night? The only video shows their SUV leaving, but no other? Was he ever spotted after that (before he went and let the dogs out while trying to 'convince' the family to call law enforcement) when he must have gone back to clean up the crime scene and repaint? I'm just trying to figure it out in my mind… I agree he most likely dumped him with his truck, but did he transfer them to his truck elsewhere or do you think it was at their house?

  3. That reminds me of the Equsearch video I watched some time ago. Tim Miller took a tour of the house and during the tour, Summer's brother mentioned that a neighbor said they called the detective because she remembered seeing a big white truck pull up to the house. Mike then says in the video, “Chase has an old white truck.” I always wondered about that.

    Another thing that struck me about that video–I just went back to look at it again–there is a black cowboy hat in the garage. Of course, that could have belonged to Summer or Joey.

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