DNA lab confirms two other sets of remains are the McStay’s children

The San Bernardino County Sheriff announced at 3:30 p.m., today, Friday, Nov. 22 that the two other sets of remains found with the bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, and his wife, Summer McStay, 43, in the Mojave desert have been positively identified as those of the couple’s two children – sons Gianni McStay and Joseph M. McStay.

The California Dept. of Justice DNA Lab notified the San Bernardino Coroner of the findings. No further information has been made available at this time, including the cause of death of any of the victims.



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Authorities confirm skeletal remains found in desert are that of the McStay family of Fallbrook

Debbie Ramsey

Managing Editor

Authorities announced at a press conference today, Nov. 15 at 11 a.m., that the skeletal remains of four individuals found in the Mohave desert have been determined to be the McStay family of four from Fallbrook.

The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office used dental records to identify the remains of Joseph McStay, 40, and his wife, Summer McStay, 43, and believe the two other individuals are the couple’s sons, Gianni, 4, and Joseph “Joey” McStay, 3.

The family was reported missing in February of 2010 from their home in the Lake Rancho Viejo development in Fallbrook, east of Interstate 15, just south of State Route 76. The ensuing search for the family became global news as indicators appeared the couple may have disappeared into Mexico.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Dept. launched the missing persons investigation.

Authorities with that agency have released the following statement:

“The McStay family, Joseph, Summer, and children Gianni, and Joseph, were last seen on February 4, 2010, at their home in Fallbrook. On February 15, 2010, Joseph’s brother contacted the San Diego Sheriff’s Department to make a missing persons’ report. Sheriff’s Homicide immediately initiated a missing persons’ investigation. During the subsequent investigation, it was learned that on February 8, 2010, the unoccupied family vehicle was located at the ‘Plaza Major Shopping Center’ in San Ysidro. After the investigation was initiated, it was discovered the vehicle had been towed from the international border and led investigators to examine video footage. As has been widely publicized, a grainy image had been captured which depicted a family closely resembling the McStays in the border area. Extensive video footage of pedestrian movement across the border into Mexico was examined with the assistance of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).”

“Over the past three years, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office has conducted an exhaustive missing person investigation in an attempt to locate the family. Hundreds of tips have been investigated without success. The case was ultimately transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in April of 2013, as they have significant resources throughout the nation and international liaison capabilities.”

Ultimately, authorities stated they believed the family had left “voluntarily,” although family members found that difficult to believe.

As a result of the findings, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Detail is now conducting a homicide investigation and working with both the San Diego County Sheriff’s Dept. and the FBI.

“Every available resource will be utilized in this investigation to identify the suspects involved in this heinous crime and bring them to justice,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon.

Authorities said autopsies began yesterday (Thurs., Nov. 14) on the remains and are expected to be completed today.

“The manner of death has been determined to be homicide; the cause of death will not be released to protect the investigation.”

Anyone with helpful information is asked to contact the Homicide Detail, Detective Armando Avila, at (909) 387-3589. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at www.wetip.com.


Update – Wednesday, November 13, 2013 4:35 p.m.

Investigators have completed the scene examination; there were two graves where remains were located as well as additional skeletel remains that were located near the graves. A grave site recovery is a very meticulous process in efforts to preserve all possible evidence. A third site was excavated however, no evidence was found and the location was determined to be unrelated to the grave site.

Investigators have recovered the remains of four persons. Autopsies will be conducted with the assistance of a forensic anthropologist to determine causes of death, ages and gender.

Are skeletal remains found in desert the McStay family of four from Fallbrook?

Debbie Ramsey

Managing Editor

A press conference is to be held this morning by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept. regarding the skeletal remains of four people that were found in the Mojave Desert on Monday, Nov. 11.

Family members of the McStay family of four from Fallbrook have stated publicly that they feel it may be the bodies of Joseph McStay, 40, his wife, Summer, 43, and two young boys ages 3 and 4.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept., “On Monday, Nov. 11, at approximately 10 a.m., deputies from the Victorville Sheriff’s Station were dispatched to the desert area between Quarry Road and I15, north of Stoddard Wells Road in the county area of Victorville, following the report of possible skeletal remains being located by a motorcyclist. Deputies responded to the location. Coroner investigators were requested and confirmed the remains were human.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 13, authorities said investigators had completed their examination of the scene.

“There were two graves where remains were located as well as additional skeletal remains that were located near the graves,” authorities stated, adding that a total of four individuals were found.

The specific identification process may take some time as authorities have said the remains have been in the shallow graves near Victorville for an extended amount of time. It may require extensive work by forensic anthropologists to make final identifications.

The McStay family was reported missing from their Fallbrook home in February 2010. A case that has intrigued the public globally, investigators have not been able to secure any substantial leads in the case and said, ultimately, they believed the family had gone to Mexico voluntarily.

Watch this site for updates as more information becomes available.

61 Responses to "DNA lab confirms two other sets of remains are the McStay’s children"

  1. Update   November 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Your question in the headline was answered before this article was written. VN needs to do their homework.

    *********VILLAGE NEWS REPLIES: Positive identification has not been released yet. While some (including family) may have an idea or assume it is the McStays, it is not prudent for a newspaper to state something as fact until it has been proven satisfactorily by authorities. Thank you. Debbie Ramsey

  2. April   November 15, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Actually i have a screen shot from Josephs Father confirming on his facebook group at about 2 or 3am confirming that yes it is the adults and its been confirmed. and he asked if it was ok to go ahead and let that information out and they gave him the ok.

  3. Cory   November 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Just confirmed by SB Sherriff that 2 of the remains are Joseph and Summer McStay and manner of death is homicide.

  4. Fallbrook Resident   November 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Seems like the bodies of McStay family have been found. KFI radio is talking about it right now and claims two of the bodies have positively been identified as Summer and Joseph.

  5. Me   November 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Condolences to the McStay family.

    Thankfully the San Bernardino Sheriff will be investigating because obviously the San Diego Sheriff’s Office were completely worthless.

    This family loved their dogs and there was no way they would have left them without care. Combine that with the groceries being left out, and it is painfully obvious that they didn’t suddenly get a desire to run to Mexico.

  6. BonsallGayGuy   November 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    It was just a few days ago that this news story crossed my mind once again and I decided to Google for current information / updates.

    My profound condolences to the family and friends for your loss. May this final resolution aid in consoling your pain in some minor way.

  7. know it all   November 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Yeah, suddendly you have all the answers, #5? Thanks.

  8. Ray (the real one)   November 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I still support the crime angle in their deaths. Let us see what transpires in the next few days.

  9. Brando   November 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    My condolences to the family i just hope the police can found who did that to them.

  10. Me   November 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    It wasn’t "suddenly" Mr. Know-it-all. I said it from day one. Now crawl back in your hole.

  11. Mimi   November 15, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Who ever done this bad deed too 2 Wonderful People & 2 sweet little Boys ;-( 🙁 I think you should turn yourself in right away! God is watching you all the way he sees you for every Bad & things you do. For the Love of there Family’s & yours you do what is right.

  12. Mimi   November 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I believe they where not going on there own! I believe they where forced out of there safe home & who ever done it will not see the light of day again.

  13. right   November 16, 2013 at 1:38 am

    yes, Me. Right detective.

  14. @mimi   November 16, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Please use a dictionary and have an adult edit your writing before you post anything online. Thank you.

  15. check it   November 16, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Maybe look at an old story from the village news titled Final 4 plead guilty.. That trail is still alive and well…

  16. Pink   November 16, 2013 at 8:49 am

    This story is sad in so many ways and there can be no happy ending. I, like Me, have always said that this was foul play, nothing else made any sense. The fact that food was left out and the dogs not taken care of, said it all. I always said their truck was left at the border as a red herring. The really big clue was that their bank account and credit cards were never touched. Hopefully the SO knew more than they were saying and still had an ongoing investigation, if not, and it was being treated as a mere "left of their own free will" case, then the trail has probably grown to cold to follow. My condolences to the family. What kind of monster kills 2 innocent babies.

  17. Michael   November 16, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Such an important story and half the comments center around the newspaper headline? Really? With so many getting it wrong so often, thanks for awaiting official confirmation.

    Now to the real story here: the McStay’s. I agree with Comment #5 that the family would have never moved out of the country on a moment’s notice without first arranging for the care of their pets. My condolences to the family and while yes, this may put an end to their wondering, it must also bring a horrible sense of frustration and anger that more wasn’t done to find this family. God bless.

  18. Julie   November 16, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Isn’t there footage that their neighbors have of them leaving that night? Maybe they can zoom in and see if they were taken hostage? The whole thing about their car being found near the border, full of childrens furniture, is throwing me off. Was that a red herring or a key to something more sinister…… I have been following this case since it was first reported because it caught my eye that they lived very close to me and because it was so mysterious and now it’s just sad and awful. I held out hope that they were in some sort of protection program. I really never thought it would turn out this way. So sad for all the family. They have to be beyond devastated. Someone mentioned a "crime angle"? What are you getting at? Do you mean you think they were part of a crime or just that their death was a homicide?

  19. IBAM   November 16, 2013 at 10:31 am

    May they rest in peace.

  20. Jackie   November 16, 2013 at 11:15 am

    The mans father said on the news that he has an idea as to who did this and why. If that is the case it seems kind of crazy that for almost 4 years that investigators could not find any kind of clue as to what really happened to these people. Anything is possible but what a devastating discovery for the family, who are now dead, and the ones left behind. If the father believes he might know who is responsible and why how absolutely tragic that someone couldn’t have found something, anything before this family and these two children lost their lives. It has to something pretty sinister to kill two small children!

  21. Redneck Bill   November 16, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Not being a criminal investigator I suppose I’m more of an arm chair quarterback when it comes to trying to make sense of this case. But because I live close as well, and because a case like this is heart wrenching, I’ve tried none the less.

    I spent a few hours last night reading whatever I could find on this story. Joseph’s father is unhappy with the San Diego Sherriff’s Department, and from what I could gather, justifiably so. I wouldn’t expect the Sherriff’s office to provide details they feel need to be kept secret, but it appears they never provided any explaination about withdrawal of funds from Joseph’s bank account AFTER he and his family went missing. Or why someone tried to access his son’s Quickbooks business records. Or why the area from which Joseph’s cell phone last pinged wasn’t searched.

    I have great respect for law enforcement. But they are human and like all of us, make mistakes. I think they concluded the family went to Mexico and looked at the case from that point of view.

    In any case, I wish the family well, and hope the person or persons responsible are brought swiftly to justice.

  22. Me   November 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Once again there are snowballs you know where….Pink & I agree.

  23. Lee   November 16, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    There are a couple of things that jump out at me about this whole situation. One, our police, both domestic and Mexican, cannot coordinate their efforts in finding and validating whether or not a CAUCASIAN family has fled/moved to Mexico? This in the 21st century? Goodness gracious, what a joke. The last time I checked . . . a Caucasian fam kinda sticks out in Hispanic Mexico, don’t it? How hard is it today to find four individuals, for goodness’s sake?! Two, Law Enforcement has technology that allows it to detect freshly-moved soil. (Somebody point out the correct lingo, please.) I know that Law enforcement has the capability to detect if soil has been recently moved, shoveled, dug up, etc. You get the idea. (They also have acoustic detection software that tells if and where a gun has been shot.) Heck, don’t we have . . . satellites? And so it takes a gentleman ridin’ his bike to discover four corpses . . . some three years after the fact?

    Get real.

    Actors playin’ detectives on today’s TV shows could do better.

  24. Lee   November 16, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    @ #20 Jackie

    Hear, hear!

  25. Ray (the real one)   November 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    In the coming months, a lot of things will be coming out in the press in regards to the investigation which family and close frinds might want to hear about the families dealings. After watching HLN, they are looking into the criminal activities angle regarding the homicide of the Mc Stay family, so folks, if your image get`s blown away with facts that will soon be released or discovered by the media, just remember, we are responsible for the paths we choose and if the Mc Stay family (kids excluded) were into some criminal activities, well….. what goes around….

    DR: Might want to do a condensed recap of the FBVN stories over the last few years so people can get up to speed on what happened. : )

  26. Ray (the real one)   November 16, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    The photo. Nothing like flashing a sign to add to one`s creibiity.

  27. SaladSD   November 16, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    I don’t understand why there isn’t any investigation concerning Joseph McStay’s business partner, Dan Kavanaugh. There seems to be plenty of circumstantial evidence pointing in Mr. Kavanaugh’s direction. Of course this is speculation, but at the very least he is a key person of interest. All this mexican cartel talk seems like a red herring. Someone could easily have orchestrated the murder to cover their tracks. For three years law enforcement thought the McStays had voluntarily gone to Mexico. It didn’t make any sense at the time, but obviously it was a clever maneuver to avoid questions closer to home.

  28. Carla   November 17, 2013 at 5:03 am

    @Ray#26. Speaking of "creibiity", what Joseph McStay is "flashing" in the photo is called a shaka. Multiculturalism: it’s a beautiful thing!


  29. Carla   November 17, 2013 at 5:07 am

    RIP Joseph, Summer, Gianni and Joseph, Jr.

  30. Me   November 17, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Ray….that "sign" has been given by surfers for decades…….has nothing to do with anyone’s "creibiity"…

  31. Ray (the real one)   November 17, 2013 at 9:34 am

    After reading various articles from the FBVN and other publications across the country and Europe, seems that Summer has a torrid past which might have been the cause of the families deaths. Phony birth certificates, numerous aliases, real estate fraud, money in various accounts, WOW.

    Joseph runnig a business which could be used for money laundering, you have to wonder why a whole family was killed. Usually the one involved in the illegal act get`s whacked but the enitire family, somebody was trying to send a message.

    So many theories out there, this beats the Arias case by far, like the game Clue.

  32. Preston   November 17, 2013 at 10:23 am

    @ #14
    For me, reading the on-line news would not be the same if everyone’s comments were grammatically perfect. I especially enjoy deciphering comments made by those that are trying to communicate in a language that is difficult or foreign to them; it just somehow takes a little of the boring out of life.
    As for the McStay

  33. Lee   November 17, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    @ #32 Preston

    "As for the McStay

  34. Juan   November 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    If I were the police, FBI, whoever, I’d take a look at family members, Really, who would kill two little boys? Unless, the little boy’s could I.D. the killer as a family member? Just a place to start.
    Actually, I don’t believe the police will ever solve this horrible crime.
    R.I.P. McStays.

  35. Lee   November 18, 2013 at 9:16 am

    @ #26 Ray

    A family of four has been murdered including two little boys (if you haven’t noticed), and instead of denouncing the murderer(s), you criticize an innocent hand gesture of a single photograph.

    That certainly says everything about your . . . creibiity.

  36. Preston   November 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

    I would be a little hurt if I hadn’t already repeatedly read comments such as the ones in this story.

  37. @ray   November 18, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Flashing a sign?? Lol. You just exposed your ignorance again. This is one of the most recognizable hand gestures for the past 50 years; you should get out more, or at least educate yourself before you post something so ignorant. Shaka!!

  38. Ray (the real one)   November 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Well @ray, my last comment was not published. I looked it up and found out it was surfer nonsense. Since I care less for that culture, who cares. Once again, I`m giving the Bronx cheer, just for you.

  39. Ray (the real one)   November 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Carla, @ray and others:

    Since I am the most censored person who comments, let me explain.

    1. I care less for the surf culture.
    2. I don`t care about a place where everyone calls each other “broah.
    3. Can`t stand Dick Dale`s music.

    Happy now. I would have posted another appropriate photo than that one. Makes him look like a punk.

    VILLAGE NEWS COMMENTS: Ray – actually your comments aren’t the most edited ones anymore. Thanks for finding the way around that. Now if you could share that with others….. DR

  40. Jade   November 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm


  41. Lee   November 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    @ #36 Preston


    @ #39 Ray

    Joseph McStay flashes a "hang loose" sign . . . and THAT makes him look like a punk?! Well, I guess then that there are A LOT of punks here in SoCal, you know, those surfin’ broahs. But you’re right, you’re right: surfers are more appropriate up in Michigan or Wisconsin (heck, we all know about them world famous "cheese-head surfers") than here in CA; and hey, let’s bash a dead person’s hand gesture instead of the immoral act of a murderer(s). Riiiiiiiiiiight, riiiiiiiiiiight.

    Dude, this is surfin’ SoCal. Get with it, broah.

  42. FR86   November 18, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Before some of you start to impugn the reputation of the SD County Sheriff and the other law enforcement organizations you should get the facts rather than make all the suppositions expressed.

    This situation was strange from the onset; Let the authorities do their job.


  43. Lee   November 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    @ # 42 FR86

    I could not agree more with you! So let’s look at the facts, shall we?

    A fam of four disappears and is most likely killed/murdered. Police can’t find ’em . . . for almost FOUR YEARS. Gentleman ridin’ his motorcycle discovers them . . . and if the piece(s) of you-know-what had buried them deeper, the McStay’s bodies would most likely STILL have not been found.

    If you can call this GREAT police work, then let’s hear it!

  44. Ray (the real one)   November 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    FR86: I agree. I am the person most critical of the SDSO and let`s face it, the leads dried up. Not for someone on the side of the road or some dirt biker came across the rainwashed graves, nobody would have ever found this family. Remember Jimmy Hoffa is still "missing in action, whereabouts unknown".

    The SDSO did a fine job but the remains were found outside their jurisdiction and very few leads, the case fizzled out. I can understand the fustrations of the family thinking more could have been down, in their eyes but I think the SDSO did a "bang up job" spent numerous dollars in man hours, kept the case open until nothing was left to follow.

    Mc Stay family, you should be thanking the SDSO and the taxpayers dollars which was used to find your missing family members from what I hear and read, was under questionable circumstances.

    A thank you would suffice.

  45. FR86   November 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    To Lee #43

    Since you like to argue for argument sake; what would you have done that the SDSO didn’t do?


  46. FR86   November 18, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    To Ray (the real one)

    This thing smells a little funny with respect to family as a whole. I’m sure that there are some facts the SDSO/SBSO/FBI are aware of that the public will know eventually………………….



  47. Ray (the real one)   November 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    FR86: Just like any story printed, once the facts come out, things change. That is why I am so harsh on family members who write here saying their family member was a kind and caring person after killing someone in a DUI accident.

    I think that Summer`s reputation for being involverd in fradulent activities using numerous aliases and that Joseph was laundering illegal activities through his business and the people who he ripped off got even.

    Bugs Moran once said after the Saint Valentines Day Massacre, "only Capone kills like that" well a whole family was killed, someone wanted to make a point real hard.

    But I will wait for the investigation is concluded before I say, I told you so.

  48. Lee   November 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    @ # 45 & 46 FR86

    What would I have done that the SDSO hasn’t done? That’s easy: everything that they didn’t do. Cool?

    "I’m sure that there are some facts the SDSO/SBSO/FBI are aware of that the public will know eventually . . . " Yet another profound and fair and balanced statement that has enlightened my day.

    So FR86, do you call SDSO’s work on this matter so far great police work? Yes or no?

  49. grunt   November 19, 2013 at 8:02 am

    @Lee – come on Lee, you can’t get off that easy; you bash everyone on here – now answer the question, I think it is an excellent one, and I for one am interested in educating myself on how YOU would have handled it, let us hear from the experts mouth on how it should have been done.

  50. FR86   November 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm


    The SDSO/SBSO/FBI all had different amounts of information at different times……THAT’S
    HOW FACTS UNFOLD. I will answer the question you asked with a YES.

    Now as Grunt asked stop bashing everyone here and You answer the question since you apparently know everything.


  51. @Lee2   November 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I agree with grunt @#49. Lee what would YOU DO? Not, "everything that they didn’t do." What a lame answer. Please, I too would like to know.

  52. Preston   November 20, 2013 at 10:35 am

    If you are asking Lee to be specific you will not get any origination ideas — He is probably searching the net right now to find a suitable answer. If you have read any of Lee’s past comments you will note that what he is best at is being rudely antagonistic and bashing.

  53. Lee applies to Lee   November 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Lee’s comment applies to himself! "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

    Now… cough up you spectacular detective approach.

  54. Pink   November 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Lee can’t fool any of the people, any of the time…

  55. Pessimistic   November 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    One of the reasons I don’t come on here much, at least to leave posts, is I get tired of reading dribble such as Lee’s. He won’t, because he cannot, reply to your challenge(s).

    I suppose if man (such as Lee?) were omniscient then the McStays’ bodies would have been found within hours of their disappearance and the case solved and submitted to the D.A. within days.

  56. skeptic   November 22, 2013 at 9:04 am

    “Friendly Village” yea right! Can’t we all just get along?

  57. FR86   November 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    To Skeptic,

    Don’t make a general statement about Fallbrook based on the likes of Lee. While a few like him tend to enjoy being antagonistic most of the exchanges on the FVN internet are informative and in some cases enlightening.

    Lee and a few others comments are intended to inflame………..


  58. Concerned student   November 23, 2013 at 12:48 am

    In the news before this it says that survalince video was released of the car leaving the house, what about all the other days the camera was running did nothing occur or was nothing recorded

  59. Ray (the real one)   November 23, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Pessimistic: He watches too much 48 Hours.

  60. Ray (the real one)   November 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    On Monday People Magizine releases it`s "fluff piece" regarding the Mc Stay family. You can count on this story containing a whole lot of words but no content.

    You can count on the remaining members of the Mc Stay family withholding information on their dealings, Summer`s scandals and the possibility that they were the cauase of their deaths by messing around with the wrong people.

    I`ll read it but m,y hopes for a good piece is doubtful.

    We will see.

  61. Legal Citizen and Vet   March 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Much continued prayers and condolences to all the family members and those that knew this family..


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