The Mcstay Case: Search Warrants unsealed and confusion follows

McStay Trial

McStay
McStay Family
McStay Family

The original search warrants executed by SDPD by Det. Dugal were unsealed on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015.

What is found in those search warrants is very confusing if you compare it to what the authorities said while the McStay family was missing.  For example, Det. Dugal stated in the search warrants to the Judge that he felt that the family had been either kidnapped or killed.  Specifically, on February 19, 2010, Detective Troy DuGal of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, wrote, “…It is my opinion the McStay family is the victim of foul play.”

This is completely the opposite of his words when he spoke with Patrick McStay and also what he told to the media.  It wasn’t long after finding the family’s missing car parked at the border that the authorities began perusing video surveillance tapes from the crossing and came across one that showed the video of “the family” walking into  Mexico.  Instead of keeping this info to themselves, they shared the video with the media and the public, along with their statements they believed it was the McStays.  This shifted the whole case and the public was led down the garden path that the family was fleeing, and didn’t want to be found anyway and not to think there was any foul play associated with this case anymore.  San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore, just two months ago told NBC 7 news that it was a “missing persons case,” not a homicide investigation.

Has Gore gone lazy, lost his investigative senses or was he trying to save the department money by labeling, what we now know is an obvious murder case, as a voluntarily missing case

We also found that the information about the eggs on the counter and popcorn bowls probably came from the warrant:  Two small bowls of popcorn were sitting on a couch in the living room and in the kitchen, and there was a carton of raw eggs and a bag of microwave popcorn on the counter.  But nothing was ever brought out about the  knocked over lamp, until the search warrant was opened on Friday. 

Also, a list of the items taken by the authorities show that they collected cell phones and Joseph’s wallet were found in the home, in addition to all computers, camera’s and camcorders and suitcases full of clothing.  But what about the cell phone pings showing the family driving around the Fallbrook area for a few days.

After the arrest of Chase Merritt, the San Bernadino police said they believed the family was killed in the home.  So, what did the SBCSD know that the SDPD and SDCSD did not know?  Why could the SBCSD state without fear of contradiction or being proved wrong say the family was killed in the home, and even say how, but SDPD and SDCSD that wandered around the home for days could not state, let alone conclude?  Did SBCSD do a forensic investigation that I believe the SDPD or SBCSD never did?

Chase Merritt has been charged with the
murders of the McStay’s.

So, we are left with questions after questions that we can theorize the answers to, in hopes to bring some kind of explanation to this case.  These are my questions:

Why did Dugal change his thoughts early on in the investigation, or did he, but was directed to say something else or keep quiet.  What happened that caused him from saying the family was kidnapped or killed to pulling items out of the home to saying they crossed the border?  Why didn’t Dugal have the forensic team go in before items were taken out of the house.  Did after the items were pulled out of the home and the car found at the border, did they assume there was no more investigation needed to be done, and their first thoughts about the fate of the McStay’s were wrong OR was there a higher power that told them their instincts were wrong and the video proved that?

AND, if Dugal’s believed the McStay’s were killed, why wasn’t a forensic team brought in to examine the home?  Was he not allowed to bring in a forensic team?  Was a higher power telling him that there was no money for that or it was a waste of time because the family walked away? 

I can’t help but wonder if after the video tape surface, the case was shut down by someone higher up, possible Gore, within the police force and the officer’s on the case were told to not work on it any longer because there new stance now was that the family crossed the border.  And their job now was to keep pushing that idea on to anyone that asked about the case, in spite of what the investigating team thought.  This may explain why the forensic team was not sent into the house.

Read more about Gore and a federal complaint and his connection to the Ruby Ridge case in 1992. 

Now that we know they were killed in the home.  How could the SDPD and the SDSD miss that fact and the SBCSD did not.  To quote Patrick McStay:

“San Bernardino says that they believe that it all happened in the home. You mean to tell me that they can figure that out and San Diego can’t?”

I wonder if a lot of these high-profile cases that go behind the Wizard of Oz curtain (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”) are put there by the forces in charge.  Why not tell the public that the McStay’s went to Mexico, when you already believe they are probably dead and you don’t want to spend the money going after someone when you don’t have any bodies to prove they murdered the people.  Tell the public that a young woman, Rebecca Zahau committed suicide (see notes below), so you don’t have to pursue a murderer, that you probably could never find, as they have disappeared in the wind. Tell the public that a teenager was a victim, even though the students closest to her, believe to this day that she had a hand in her mother and brother’s own murder. You killed the only witness anyway, so how are you going to prove it.  Over and over again we are seeing cases that are difficult to prosecute are stopped before they are thoroughly investigated.   Because I am not in the inner workings of the SDPD or the SDSD, I can only wonder why these cases were not pursued further.  But, I can’t help but feel that the Wizard of Oz excuse is being used a lot lately, and I can’t help but wonder why.  We will never really know if what I am wondering about is true or not, unless someone in the system comes out and says. But, I do know that is highly unlikely.  There is not many who would sacrifice being ostracized, let alone lose their pension, to set the record straight.

There is a lot more to come for this case and even possible more search warrants revealed, as CBS News and other media organizations are asking for the search warrants filed later in the investigation by the SBCSD and the pre-preliminary hearing for Merritt is scheduled for Jan. 30.

I do feel that the real truth will come out now that it is in the hands of the SBCSD and more will be revealed about the handling of this case by the SDSD.

Note 1: “In summer 2011, it was the infamous Coronado Mansion murders, I mean, “suicide” and “accident” that got folks all riled up at the perceived incompetency of the San Diego Sheriff. In summer 2013, it was the hands-off behavior that Gore exhibited while handling the Hannah Anderson “ordeal.”  There were several surveillance more videos that captured Hannah and DiMaggio together. Why didn’t the SDSD ever pick those videos up?  They would have certainly have shown whether Hannah was really a victim or not.  Click here to read more of this CNN article.” 

Note 2: The SDSD stated that the bed  which the rope was tied to, moved the bed several feet.  The SDSD said the bed moved 7.5 inches, but the re-enactment that News 8 did showed the bed moved about 5 times farther.  Regardless, the bottom line is that the SDSD should have done their own re-enactment.  Why didn’t they? (Click here to see the News 8 reenactment of the case and draw your own conclusions). 

Read more about the McStay, Zahau, and Anderson case here.

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

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  1. McStay Family: The people vs Charles "Chase" Ray Merritt – Ongoing updates of the trial – Missing Persons of America