The McStay family — 40-year-old Joseph, his 43-year-old wife, Summer, and their sons Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3 — were apparent homicide victims, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said.
“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 Joseph McStay’s brother, Michael, struggling to speak through tears as other family members sobbed at a news conference.
“I know the sheriff’s and the FBI and everybody wants to bring this to justice,” he said. “I just want to know when it’s over. That’s all.”
McMahon said investigators don’t know many details, including when the McStays were killed, how long the bodies had been in the desert and if they were killed there or elsewhere. Evidence at the scene included some clothing, but McMahon wouldn’t say if authorities found a weapon or whether a cause of death was determined.
However, he said: “There is investigative evidence that is at the scene that will help complete the investigation.”
The two graves, located about 50 yards off a dirt road, were 1- to 2-feet deep, and there were two bodies in each, McMahon said. Some of the bones had been dragged to the surface by animals, he added. He declined to say how the bodies were arranged in the graves. The parents’ identities were determined through dental records. Police are awaiting DNA testing on the other remains but believe the skeletons are those of the couple’s boys.
Their McStays’ disappearance launched what San Diego County sheriff’s investigators called their most extensive missing-persons search ever. The evidence indicates foul play and so the investigation will now take a different direction.