On February 4 (or 5th), 2010, the McStay family of four, Joseph Sr., Summer, Gianni and Joseph Jr vanish from their newly purchased home in Fallbrook, California.

November 11, 2013, the bodies of all four McStay family members are discovered buried in two shallow graves in the desert in Victorville, California.

November 7, 2014, a family friend and business associate Charles Ray Merritt is charged with their murders.

June 24, 2019, Charles Merritt was found guilty and sentenced to death, even though evidence presented at trial debunked all assertions made by the prosecution.

By the finish of trial it was even unclear which of the varying narratives the state put forward convinced the jury. The verdict and sentencing recommendations by the jury were also inconsistent.

This case has something that few others do, lots of documentation made available to the public. And there was live coverage of every day of trial.

Video/Audio of Trial

Thirty-six search warrants issued on this case, by two different law enforcement agencies, are now available to the public.

The preliminary hearing for People v Merritt took place June 15, 2015, at the San Bernardino Superior Court House. Much of this hearing is known to the public as well.

There is an opportunity for the public to determine for themselves what they believe happened. And though definitive answers as to who murdered the McStay family of four may not be found at trial, as some evidence was not admitted, what most will see on close examination is that there was never enough evidence to bring a case against Charles Merritt, let alone convict him. I believe a close examination of the evidence presented at trial will convince any objective viewer of at least three things:

  1. Charles Merritt had solid alibi for both the night of the February 4th and the morning of February 5th (prosecutors at trial waffled as to when the McStays were actually abducted and killed).
  2. Charles Merritt had no motive.
  3. Charles Merritt is innocent.

THE PUBLISHED San Bernardino County Search Warrants previously available on-line no longer appear to be there.  You can still find them here: SBC Search Warrants:


Individual Search Warrants

Warrants released by the early investigators on this case:

San Diego Unsealed Search Warrants (4)

Court updates and future hearings:

Court Schedule

This blog is designed to facilitate discussion on the evidence presented at trial. 

All opinions given on this blog are my own.

(I have a feeling this story is far from over.)

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