McStay Family Murdered: Will Desert Graves Yield Their Killers?

Deserted in the Desert

Gianni Family Photo





Gianni Martelli McStay had rock star hair at only 4years old.  His little brother Joseph, affectionately nicknamed Chubba- did as well.  They both rocked a beanie like no other little dudes.

Chubba Family Photo

Gianni and Chubba were as inseparable in life as they were in death when they were recovered in a shallow grave in the Mojave Desert on November 11.

Their parents, Joseph, 40 and Summer McStay, 43, were located in a separate grave nearby.

A 3rd gravesite was found-but empty.  A protected source not authorized to speak to the media has confirmed that at least one of the parent’s remains was bound by an electrical cord.

While formal DNA comparisons and autopsy protocols are pending, the manner of death in all four victims have been declared homicides.

Just about 50 yards off the intersection of Route 15 and Quarry Rd the family that San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDCSD) believed was “likely” voluntarily missing on their own and living in Mexico, was recovered in a 30 hour excavation process.   An off road motorcycle enthusiast called the San Bernardino County Sheriff when he came across what he suspected was human remains.

Last April SDCSD forwarded the McStay case to the FBI based on their conclusions that the McStay’s had McGone to Mexico, following a lengthy complaint of their handling of the case by Patrick McStay, Joseph’s Father.   Troy Dugal, previous lead investigator of the McStay case, appeared on several news and cable television programs over the last three years explaining there was “overwhelming” circumstantial evidence the family of four that was pictured crossing the border into Tijuana, Mexico the evening of February 8th, 2010 was in fact, the McStays.

Following the recovery, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office will maintain jurisdiction of the investigation.

Frenemies..  Frenethieves.. Friends.. Family or Cartel?

Who brutally murders innocent children and dumps them in a hole they dug in the desert?

Logically- someone who is very familiar with the area.  Of course it is just as shocking and horrific to murder anyone,  but it takes a specific brand of evil to murder a baby.  Make that two.

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that either Joseph or Summer McStay had any ties to drugs, associates with ties to drugs or cartel, at any time.   None.

Contrary to a top selling book on the case, “No Goodbyes” by Rick Baker, there has never been any evidence whatsoever that Summer McStay was some sort of closeted psychotic and homicidal type.  The book goes on to malign members of both Joseph and Summer’s families and in some cases outright accuses same of extortion or stealing.   Baker’s subsequent public theory is that Summer murdered Joseph and everyone should be looking for her and the boys in Mexico.

Not surprisingly , Baker has requested Amazon pull his book from available stock and has offered refunds to prior purchases.   Popular online sleuth sites previously promoting “No Goodbye’s” have since either deleted it’s hundreds of posts endorsing Baker, or moved them to a member’s only private viewing area.

Albeit obtusely, Baker does touch on a troubling and serious abuse allegation concerning Joseph McStay’s oldest son from his first marriage, Jonah, and his step-father, Michael McFadden.  He writes summer filed a complaint with Child Protective Services after she and Joseph recorded a conversation with Jonah and placed a copy of same with a private party for safekeeping. has been able to independently verify that is accurate, but that the investigation was not known to be completed until shortly after the McStay’s disappearance.  Under California probate law, Jonah would be an heir to the McStay estate or as otherwise provisioned in the instance of an existing will.

Interviewed by Laura Ling for E! Investigation, Joseph McStay’s web administrator Dan Kavanaugh claims he was the first to become concerned.  In Baker’s book, he refers to him as a suspect and details how he alleges he was funneling cash from McStay’s business account before he or anyone else knew the family was missing.  Kavanaugh has an unrelated open criminal matter in San Diego County according to court records.

Chase Merritt- Joseph McStay’s business partner in his water fountain design and installation business was the last number ever dialed from his phone at 8:28PM on February 4th.  Merritt joined McStay in a lunch meeting earlier that afternoon where they discussed a proposal for a very large car wash chain to feature custom fountains in each facility.   According to family friend MacCargar McGyver, McStay was very excited about the opportunity.  Merritt claims he passed a voluntary lie detector test, and that he was adamant that Joseph McStay would never have taken his family to Mexico and has always believed they met with foul play.

McGYver spent several days leading up to February 4th at the McStay home due to a painter Summer hired not returning to complete the job.  McGyver introduced Summer and Joseph and by all accounts was a close confidant of the couple.

Patrick McStay, Joseph’s Father living in Texas has had some harsh words for the investigation into the disappearance of his son, daughter in law and grandsons.

“…most botched, inept investigation I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

He also believes very strongly that the list of suspects with motive to kill his family members is very short.  Three, to be exact.

He said the department didn’t even bother to contact him to tell him his son’s remains had been found.

“I got a message from someone [on Thursday] on Facebook telling me to go and read an article,” McStay said. “The minute I read the article, I knew it was him.”

“I have exhausted and have so much information on three possible persons of interest. All have a motive.”

The three individuals are not connected to each other, but all of them seem like likely candidates. Patrick says one of them seems to be a particularly likely suspect: he’s a wealthy man with a long rap sheet that includes charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary. McStay says he, too, has a motive for killing his son.

Although Mr. McStay did not reference him by name, he may be referring to Michael James McFadden, who was arrested in July 1998 and charged with attempted murder and a litany of other felonies including great bodily harm to a child:

459/460(a) PC – Burglary 07/16/1998 02/25/2000 Dismissed
422 PC – Assault 07/16/1998 02/25/2000 Dismissed
273.5(a) PC – Domestic Violence 07/16/1998 02/25/2000 Dismissed
12022.7(d) PC – Infliction of great bodily injury on a child under the age of five … 07/16/1998 02/25/2000 Dismissed
422 PC – Assault 07/16/1999 02/25/2000 Dismissed
240 PC – Attempt to inflict violent force on another person. 07/16/1999 02/25/2000 Dismissed
245(a)(1) PC – Assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm 07/16/1998 01/18/2000 Pled Guilty
12022.7(d) PC – Infliction of great bodily injury on a child under the age of five… 07/16/1998 02/25/2000 Dismissed
422 PC – Criminal Terrorist Threat 07/16/1999 01/18/2000 Pled Guilty
664-187 PC – Attempted Murder 07/16/1998 02/25/2000 Dismissed

You will note some of the charges are from 1998, others 1999 on the anniversary date, McFadden successfully negotiated a plea agreement and only pled to criminal terroristic threats and assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm.  Both felonies.

In the complaint he lodged against the detectives in SDCSD, Patrick McStay specifically references failure to interview key suspects he provided to LE directly.

Given the location of the bodies, it would seem that whoever is responsible would at least want investigators to think McFadden was involved.  As a self-proclaimed mountain bike “racer”, McFadden has participated in several bike events in various locations all along the Route 15 Mojave corridor.  SBCSO says they will be re-interviewing everyone in the case and have no suspects.

There have been no named suspects to date and the investigation is ongoing.  Memorial or Funeral arrangements for the McStay’s have not yet been announced .  LATE EDIT: The family and friends of the McStay family will gather at the grave site in Victorville,  on Joseph’s McStay’s birthday.

To be continued in Part 2:  Analysis of the last day of their lives points to involvement by someone they knew.



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  1. Rose says:

    wow. strong vengance motivation
    plus severely sociopathic & violent.
    doesn’t seem to fit current caste of characters,
    even the stepfather.
    like a middle eastern honor killing.

    Ya know, I don’t really see that traditionally, because those are never concealed. However, I might agree this crime has a level of retributive restoration of some perceived honor.
    The McStay case will benefit from the Corwin case in terms of public disclosure, imo. As sordid as that sounds.

  2. Rose says:

    OT Ode I just did that recipe & froze the product in baggies.
    But I got carried away reading BOC, & shall we it’s possible to
    overcook & dry out ground turkey.

  3. Rose says:

    How did she get the word “someone is on the way to assassinate our
    family” in order to flee so abruptly? and from whom?

  4. Rose says:

    Yup, all in the percolator. Truly one of the most strenuous research efforts and cinderblock curtains (in context) I have seen in a long time.

    Like sitting at the train station and chatting with someone important at exactly the time it pulls in- and pulls away.


  5. Rose says:

    Yes maam

  6. alta says:

    Any indication of le talking soon?

    None. However, I might pay attention to what we might accomplish in the same jurisdiction- getting some traction.

  7. Rose says:

    whoot whoot

    off to read

  8. Rose says:

    re alta & Blink colloquiy… from Corwin, it seems San Bernadino Sheriff Dept briefs details when it suits case progress (pressure on a perp) but is otherwise tighfisted. Clearly their Spec Inves Unit moves swiftly on leads.!

  9. alta says:

    Why no mention of sm father
    Sm and her family did not want
    Him to know were they were
    Thats my understanding
    Was he violent? And has le ever
    Talked to him? Just wondering
    Why this is never discused
    Could be reason for sm name
    Changes..or am I reaching?

  10. alta says: you know why nobody talks about sm father or is
    There nota to talk about?

    I think that there is a lack of confirmed data on that alta

  11. alta says:

    B sorry for pushing this issue but do u think sm father should be looked at by le

    I don’t know.

  12. Alli says:

    Joseph McStay Family laid to Rest

    by admin on July 23, 2014

    On Tuesday July 15, 2014 Joseph, Summer, Gianni, & Joey Jr McStay’s remains were laid to rest.

    Attending this small informal ceremony was my mom, my wife, and myself. We will be having a formal ceremony for Jonah (Joey’s remaining son) and his family and our family with my children at a later date. My mom did not want the kids to see the ground all turned up.

    One of the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to watch my mom see her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson’s ashes be lowered into the small shallow plot.

    After the private ceremony has been concluded, we will disclose the location of Joey, Summer, Gianni, & Joey Jr for anyone wishing to visit the cemetery memorial site and pay their respects.

    Thank You for your prayers and all the love & support. Your kind words and well-wishes continue to encourage the grieving family members dealing with this tragic loss.

    Wow, these people are control freaks to the very end. What a bunch of BS. I hope a portion of Summer and the children’s ashes went to her Mother and Sister if they were not even invited to this. Horribly sad.

  13. alta says:

    Can they legaly do that ? Sm family are.the ones that
    Have rights to her…again so sad

  14. Alli says:

    It’s horrible to think the cremains might have been separated!! The thought of receiving only a portion of a loved one’s ashes is abominable. Also, it’s disgusting Patrick was once again not invited to attend the burial of his family. I assume Patrick won’t be invited to the formal ceremony since the McFadden’s will be included.

  15. Rose says:

    wrt “One of the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to watch my mom see her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson’s ashes be lowered into the small shallow plot.”
    Sounds like it runs in the family–handed down from Mom.
    I myself, as a Mom, would have refused participation without immediate
    family members on both sides invited to be present, including grandchildren, who
    could chose to opt out on their own. This Mom sounds very weird in her thinking.
    What does she do in life anyway? Maybe she let the vampures in.

  16. alta says:

    Blink do you consider this case cold
    I do not.

  17. Soundbeach says:

    Blink… Are you suggesting then, that that last call to CM might not have taken place since you don’t see a missed call? Are you indicating that CM’s phone record never showed a “missed” call??? Thanks.

    Don’t know.

  18. Alli says:

    Blink do you know if RB shut down because LE said his blog was interfering with the investigation? Or do you think it was for some other reason?

    As I recall, I believe I mentioned that I was quite positive he never had permission from anyone within SBSD to speak on their behalf or quote them in any way. I also mentioned that had been confirmed to me officially. I don’t pay any attention to his smog whatsoever so I don’t have any thoughts other than that.

  19. anon says:

    please post my last comment as anon

    I do not allow anyone to post as “anon” on my site, but I won’t publish your post anyway because it cannot be supported. You do not know how the McStay’s died.

  20. Chelsea says:

    Have you seen CM’s cell records?

    I can’t discuss that.

  21. jeff says:

    This crime was committed by two people, yes ? Someone needed a ride back from the border after dumping the car. These two people have been able to keep quiet for years now, indicating a tight bond.

  22. alta says:

    B.on another blog israel keyes is metioned.(serial killer)as a poi.
    What are your thoughts on this.if any?

    Not involved. I was the first person to raise the issue, and the first to dispose of it through my Federal contacts. Not him.

  23. alta says:

    Do you still think mcstays knew the perps?or is
    There any way they ran into foul play by a
    Serial type killer that are not known yet?

  24. alta says:

    Blink..please come back full time.other blogs
    Are bad.full of hate and info
    And just sad.sad.sad stuff.based on

    alta- I wish I could. Fall is worse, but you have my word the BOC ears are to the ground.

  25. karl westerberg says:

    Some ideas.
    Starting with the graves. First, all was probably planned very well, even if the graves were shallow.But still its a amateur behavior to make the graves shallow. Most people know that animals will dig the bones up.
    It seems as the killers wanted to make the whole family vanish….was the third grave for the dogs…?
    A crime like this has to be based either on deep hate or a lot of money I think.
    The first question is: Who had a reason to hate the MCStays and the second : What amount of money would make a killer do this crime?
    If it wasnt drugs what kind of money was it ?

    There were no signs of a struggle in the home, so probably it was the family that left in their car in the evening.It was rather late .
    What could make the family take their small children out on an eveningtrip?

    Was it a threat, and if so what kind of?
    Or were they fooled by someone they knew?
    If one could get the information when the boys normally went to bed one could make a calculation where they were going if it just was some normal eveningtour and they were hijacked.

    And the toys in the car, why were they there? And was the toys the reason why they didnt bring the dogs.?
    The toys were rather big ones and are not probably not sold by the thousands. It cant be impossible to find out where and when toys like this were sold around the actual days.
    I think the most important question is: What could make the family take a tour in the evening and do it in a hurry as it seems?
    A businessdeal, I doubt, a threat of some kind ..possible, to help someone I doubt…buy a hamburger..I doubt.
    Who could have the power to threat the MCStays and with what?
    Money problems ….. some dark secrets?
    But why bring the children if there was a threat.
    No, I change my mind…they must have been fooled by someone they knew and trusted .

  26. mo says:

    Karl said ” they must have been fooled by someone they knew and trusted”. I agree, someone they had a relationship with ( business ?) fooled them into meeting them that night.
    That person(s) is in the police file as someone they had contact with. There dealings must have been secret otherwise LE would not have said they went to mexico. All said IMO.

  27. Rose says:

    if corwin is an example, San Bernadino will
    conclude this case with charges, with evidence.

  28. Alli says:

    Rose, I hope you are correct. An arrest needs to happen soon.

  29. alta says:

    Way over due!

  30. deesmom says:

    Wow is this case dead in the water or what?

  31. Alli says:

    Deesmom, it sure seems that way. :(

    Maybe there will be another presser in mid November with an update. The family needs to press for this, IMO.

  32. karl westerberg says:

    Just some more ideas linked to my earlier message.
    Im thinking about the toys in the back of the car.
    Why were they covered? For surprising the kids?
    To misslead someone ( Like the police)?
    When were they bought?
    Two possibilities.
    A) They were bought by the parents.
    B) They were bought by someone else.
    If A : The parents had bought the toys earlier and left them in the car so that the kids shouldnt see them before a certain date.
    And therefore also covered them. But the kids were so big that they should have seen them and wondered what it was.
    Or did they buy the toys the evening the family vanished? But it was very late and why bring the children and then cover the toys if it should be a surprise. No thats not the way parents acts….especially not as they seemed to leave in a hurry.
    If B: The toys were bought by someone else this evening and the family left in a hurry to fetch the toys.Then it must have been by someone very close to the family (or kids) . I dont think they would have left in a hurry for someone else to fetch some toys…….

    Either A or B…….
    AS I wrote in my first message …I thing they have been fooled by someone they knew to leave the house.
    What other possibilities are there?
    Someone threatened to come to the house..thats why they left in a hurry?
    But should they then have left their beloved dogs and used the space in the car for some earlier bought toys….no no.
    To solve this terrible murder I think the clue is (just) to find the reason to why they left and why in the way they did.

    If there isnt some big dark and hidden secret I just cant figure out why they had to leave in a hurry and bringing nothing except some toys…
    Or was that the reason why they left in a hurry. They should just fetch the toys and the store was about to close and someone they trusted and were close to, told them to hurry up?

  33. deesmom says:

    Well I won’t hold my breath for any press conferences from law enforcement, especially now that public discussion has dried up surrounding the case. Shame!

  34. alta says:

    Sometimes takes 20yrs to solve crimes.
    So sad.

  35. karl westerberg says:

    Some more ideas , connected to my earlier ones, regarding details.

    The Mcstays had bought a house for more than 300 000$, we dont know if they had any loans for the house.They had 100 000$ on their(private?) account.
    According to their earlier landlord they had problems with paying the rent.There where also people and lawyers chasing them for debts.
    There are two possibilities:
    A) They didnt have any money
    B) They just didnt want to pay cause everything was in a disorder.

    But its really astonishing that three months after they moved from the flat ( ( As they didnt have money or managed to pay), they had bought a house for 300 000 and had another 100 000 on their account.

    Josephs company was having an order of 500 waterfalls.
    To run a business of that magnitude you have to have an ability to organize and get things done.
    People are different in there professional and private lives but its a little remarkable that they after living three months in the house, and having that good economy, had to ask a family friend to come and help with the painting. (Even if the floorworkers had disappeared.) The house seems to be in a total disorder.

    Its also strange that Joseph and his business partner didnt have to have a proper signed deal or Ltd with a company selling for millons of dollars.Just a gentlemans agreement!!? Its not very professional.
    In some site you can find the information…(if its true), that someone had payed 14 000 dollars for a waterfall but hasnt got it delivered.
    500×14 000 = 7 million dollars.
    How come the business partner said that he almost got nothing “over” when he sold the company?
    Joseph has got hundreds of thousends of dollars from somewhere in a very short time and if it wasnt from drugs why was the company nearly worth nothing when the partner sold it?
    It seemed to be very profitable if Joseph has got hundreds of thousands of dollars from it. Then the partner also must have got the same as they according to the partner owned 50-50.

    I dont know what kind of work Joseph did in this company but there are talk of subcontractors and so it cant be impossible to continue to do business even if Joseph disappeared.
    No …500 waterfalls ordered and the company is worth nothing?

    The Mcstays dogs arent buried together with the family but to me there is a dog buried in this companys economy (as we say in swedish).

    The adults always smiles on pictures and films and Josephs brother says they were very happy( more than once) and that he talked to his brother every week about everything.
    Still Joseph phoned his mother a few days before the disappearance asking for a good family counselor.Do Michael lie about Josephs happiness or was Joseph a “mothers boy” and never told his brother about his problems with Summer?
    As the house seems to be in a disorder , its not unlikely that this also could be an indication of that Josephs and Summers relation also was.

    For me living in northern Scandinavia its also strange that no one , nor mother , father brother nor Summers family seemed to have sent sms or emails asking where the Mcstays have gone. And if the phones were switched off why didnt someone start worrying before?

    Joseph was on the phone all the time its said and someone who has a company with big orders coming cant afford to not be able to be reached even being on holiday . ( Michael said they could have taken a long weekend).

    I mentioned that someone had payed 14000 dollars in advance without receiving any waterfall.
    Was that this companys business idea….thats why it didnt continue after Josephs disappearance and thats also the reason why Josephs account was containing a lot of cash?

    And could that be the reason why they were murdered….some one is angry , or someone threatened to reveal everything?

    In a previous message I said that it couldnt be impossible to find out where the toys where bought , it couldnt have been thousands of them sold close to the disappearance.
    And if Mcstays (or someone else) used a card , the police must have found it already.but they say they cant figure out where and when its bought…that is..Mcstays (or someone else)must have used cash.

    I think there are more than one dog buried in this case…the problem is just to find out ,what kind of…. and who did the digging?

  36. karl westerberg says:

    Some more thoughts

    Maybe the reason was just the company.
    The company generated and lot of money and had this big order of 500 waterfalls, probably giving the owners a million dollars profit.
    Someone knew that and wanted Joseph and his family out of the way to get the company for nothing.

    Well..thats not an unique idea…so that the police must already have looked into it…or ??????

    Does anyone here know who bought the company?

  37. Alli says:

    I think Patrick Maloy bought the company.

  38. Milisa says:

    So many theories have been put out there about this case being based on financial gain and the parents. What about playing the devil’s advocate and saying that the parents weren’t the reason for the murders it was based on the children. People ask the question, who could kill children? Well for one Pedophiles. Maybe someone searching for passports for kids to go to Mexico was someone that was going to actually take the kids. Maybe they decided not to and maybe they wanted the kids and killed the entire family for the kids and buried them in separate graves for that purpose. Stranger things have happened, look at Joseph E. Duncan III in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2005. I know it is terrible to think about yet it does happen unfortunately.

  39. karl westerberg says:

    Well you have a point and one has to think the unthinkable in this case.
    The question is of course who had access to the computer except the parents? (Well , it feels as everything isnt told in this case and also that someone close to the family is involved.)
    Ive thought about for some time why there were more than one grave and think its because the parents and the children were killed at different times.( The children were so small, couldnt be any problem to make the grave a little deeper, especially if one has used some sort of BOBCAT as the tracks suggested.)
    That also could fit in with your theory.
    Ive also read there is a third grave…..that also fit in with your theory.

    There are several “friends” or others connected to the family with a violent past.
    Its doesnt say anyone of them is involved but it tells that the family lived now and before in an environment where there are people with criminal background and who knows if there were more strange people around or could it be a neighbor?

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