clear
Wednesday May 6th, 2015 8:50AM

Bodies in desert believed to be missing family

By The Associated Press
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) -- Human remains found this week in the Southern California desert are believed to be a San Diego-area family of four who disappeared more than three years ago, and their deaths appear to be homicides, authorities said Friday.

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon confirmed that 40-year-old Joseph McStay and his 43-year-old wife, Summer, were found in shallow graves near Victorville, about 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The couple and their two sons - ages 3 and 4 - disappeared in February 2010.

Authorities believe the other remains belong to the two boys, but they have more work to do to confirm it, McMahon said at a news conference.

"Their DNA evidence is on file with the DOJ (Department of Justice), and we will be sending that information to the DOJ for positive identification," he said.

McMahon added the manner of death appears to be homicide, and it doesn't appear the family ever went to Mexico after they disappeared. Investigators earlier said they thought they spotted the McStays crossing the border on grainy surveillance video.

Investigators wrapped up a three-day excavation in barren scrubland near heavily traveled Interstate 15 on Wednesday after an off-road motorcyclist reported finding bones there.

Additional skeletal remains were found near the graves, and the coroner's investigators later confirmed they were human. Authorities said the remains had been in the desert for an extended period.

Autopsies were still being completed, and the cause of death has not been released.

The McStays' disappearance launched what San Diego County sheriff's investigators called their most extensive missing-persons search ever.

Joseph McStay's brother, Michael McStay, said it's been a "hard road" for the family not knowing where the couple and their sons were.

"It's not really the outcome we were looking for, but it gives us courage to know that they're together and they're in a better place," said a tearful Michael McStay.

There were no signs of forced entry at the family's home in Fallbrook, about 55 miles north of San Diego, or in their SUV parked near the border. Authorities found rotten eggs on the kitchen counter of the home and two dogs in the backyard.

Neither Joseph nor Summer had told family or friends they were leaving, and tens of thousands of dollars left in business bank accounts were never claimed.

Investigators pursued hundreds of tips and eventually came to believe the family left voluntarily for Mexico. Investigators were convinced that four people seen on a dimly lit surveillance video walking into Tijuana, Mexico, were the McStays.

But McMahon said there's no indication - at this point - the family ever went to Mexico.

Some family members doubted the video showed the couple and their children. The case was later turned over to the FBI.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 week ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 3 weeks ago )
US Capitol lockdown lifted after man fatally shoots himself
WASHINGTON (AP) — A precautionary lockdown of the U.S. Capitol was lifted after about two hours Saturday following a suicide by a man carrying a protest sign.The man died after shooting himself on the...
6:15PM ( 3 weeks ago )