McStay Dad: Arrest of Son’s Business Associate ‘Like a Boulder Falling on Me’

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A family photo shows Joseph McStay, his wife Summer and sons Gianni and Joseph.

It’s been one year since the bodies of the McStay family were found in the Mojave Desert north of Victorville.

An off-road motorcyclist reported possible skeletal remains in two shallow graves on November 11, 2013. Dental records confirmed that those graves held the bodies of Joseph McStay, his wife Summer and their two young sons, Gianni and Joseph Jr.

Just last week, authorities announced a major break in the case with the arrest of Charles “Chase” Merritt, the man they think is responsible for the deaths.

In his first on-camera interview since Merritt’s arrest, Joseph McStay’s father described his reaction to the latest development.

“A lot of people will say it’s like lifting a ton off your shoulders. I said, no, it was more to me like a boulder falling on me,” Patrick McStay told CNN’s Randi Kaye.

Desert Remains Could be Linked to Missing McStay Family

The bodies of four people found buried in the desert north of Victorville may be linked to the 2010 disappearance of the McStay family in Fallbrook.

The McStay family disappeared in February 2010, and Patrick McStay has been working tirelessly to figure out what happened to them. He has even had numerous conversations with Merritt.

Asked what he would like to ask Merritt now, Patrick McStay said he wouldn’t ask anything.

“There’d be one person coming out of that room,” he said.

Merritt, 57, is charged with four counts of murder in the deaths of the McStay family. His arraignment is set for November 12.

Police say they believe the family died of “blunt force trauma” inside their home north of San Diego, but they declined to discuss specifics of the deaths or a motive.

Earlier this year, Kaye interviewed Merritt, who was a close friend and business partner of Joseph McStay.

Merritt said at the time he had “absolutely no clue” what happened to the McStays.

Merritt and McStay met for a business lunch in Rancho Cucamonga on February 4, 2010, the day the family disappeared.


A photograph from the “Find the McStay Family” Facebook page shows four crosses erected where their bodies were found.

“I am definitely the last person he saw,” Merritt said during the January interview.

Merritt also told CNN they were also on the phone constantly, perhaps 12 to 13 times that day.

There was another call from McStay’s phone to Merritt the night of the family’s disappearance. It came about 40 minutes after a neighbor’s security camera captured the family’s Isuzu pulling out of their cul-de-sac. Merritt didn’t answer.

Merritt told CNN’s Kaye he was watching television with his then-girlfriend, and he picked up the phone, looked at it and set it back down. He was tired. He called back the next day, he said.

“There are hundreds of scenarios. I have gone over all of them in my head,” he said. “Of course I regret not picking up the phone.”

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department released this photo of Charles Ray Merritt, suspected in the deaths of the McStay family, during a news conference on Nov. 7, 2014.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department released this photo of Charles Ray Merritt, suspected in the deaths of the McStay family, during a news conference on Nov. 7, 2014.

Merritt was questioned by police after the disappearance. They just asked him the “standard questions,” he said.

He also claimed to have taken a polygraph test.

Police had never named Merritt as a suspect before his arrest last Wednesday.

He has served time in prison, according to criminal records from California, but none of the crimes involved violence.

San Bernardino authorities said Friday that after reviewing 4,500 pages of investigative records, executing 60 search warrants and conducting 200 interviews, they believe Merritt acted alone.

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