Unsolved Murders in the Desert
By Alex Distefano
Last week, a motorcyclist in San Bernardino County made a horrific discovery of a shallow grave containing human remains. The bodies were found in the Mojave Desert on a road just off Interstate 15, outside of Victorville.
According to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, there were four people buried in two separate graves, each approximately two feet deep. The deaths are considered to be a homicide, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon confirmed in a news conference last Friday. He also said that two of the victims were identified through dental records as Joseph and Summer McStay, from Fallbrook. The other two bodies are at this point believed to be their sons, Gianni and Joseph Jr., but the officials said this could not yet be confirmed.
This awful news came to members of the McStay family, who recalled how in Feb., 2010, the McStays and their young sons vanished from their home under very suspicious circumstances. According to news reports, when the couple vanished the home was left with everything intact, food was on the table and the pets were unfed. The family’s car was also eventually found in the San Diego area, but nothing was missing.
What makes this case more mysterious is that a blurry video shows four people matching the description of the McStay family walking through a border crossing station into Tijuana, Mexico; however at this point, San Bernardino Sheriffs say they cannot confirm this to be true.
Since this missing persons case was big news at the time, now the tragic homicide is also making headlines, ranging from The Huffington Post, USA today, ABC, CBS and even The New York Post. Multiple news agencies have confirmed and reported that Mr. McStay owned a decorative fountain company. The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department is working as the lead agency on this case, along with officials from the FBI and San Diego area authorities.
Sheriff McMahon told reporters at news a conference Friday that it is too early in this stage, to conclude how, when or where the victims were killed. When asked about the possible ties to Mexico, and drug cartels, he was quoted in a local CBS news report as saying, “It’s too early to tell whether it’s cartel-related or any other suspects. We’ll continue to work with San Diego law enforcement. They provided us a couple of investigators we’ve been working with. But again, the investigation is early, and we have not had an opportunity to read all of their reports.”
Jodi Miller, spokesperson from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department told the Weekly that this is going to be an extensive, long term homicide investigation. She said that the children have not yet been indentified, since they were too young to have dental records. “To identify them, it will require a DNA testing but it takes longer for children than for adults,” she said. “So because of this it’s going to take a while and it’s extremely difficult to put a date at this time.”
She said that there are no suspects or persons of interest at this time, and no leads since Friday’s press conference. “There is nothing new yet, the investigators were at work over the weekend and will remain very active with this,” she said. “There is no doubt about it, this is going to be time consuming investigation.”