In People v Merritt, one of the more perplexing theories put forward by San Bernardino District Attorneys, is that just after brutally murdering an entire family of four, a lone killer inexplicably pauses his escape from the home of his victims (their bodies in tow), to return to this same home, less than ten minutes after leaving it.
Once back at the crime scene he writes a computer generated check, payable to himself, on the home computer of his victims. This check is not printed and might easily have been written from another, much safer location (as state’s evidence shows). Of course, the “lone killer” in the above scenario, is alleged to be Charles Ray Merritt (Chase) , who stands accused of this crime.
Though not explicitly stated, the inference to be drawn from the June 15, 2015 preliminary hearing, is that at some point after 5:48 PM, on the evening of February 4, 2010, defendant Chase Merritt leaves his residence in Rancho Cucamonga. He travels the hour or so distance to the McStay home in Fallbrook. There he cruelly bludgeons the entire family to death, packages them up–one in a futon cover, others in various towels and a bathrobe, secrets them away inside his Chevy Truck. At 7:47 PM he exits the McStay driveway, where the bottom 18 inches of his truck is captured by a neighbor’s surveillance camera.
Merritt accomplishes all the above in under two hours, only to then immediately return to the McStay residence, and at 7:59 PM types in a check payable to himself, on a desktop computer situated in the home office of victim Joseph McStay. The check is written utilizing one of McStay’s business QuickBook accounts. Merritt fails to print this check, but does delete it at 8:05 PM.
If other allegations made against Chase Merritt are accurate, Merritt had, by the time of the murders, already written checks to himself on McStay’s QuickBook account. He did so from an undisclosed location (yet to be revealed-the DA has not said where Merritt was supposed to have written these checks from). And apparently the check writing was a success. Merritt cashes one of the checks he is alleged to have written, two days prior to the McStays going missing. So why not write a check at this other location after the murders occur–a location where he won’t risk being caught with four battered corpses?
Add to all this one additional mystery: How does someone who has done all the above, not leave more evidence of their actions?
It would seem likely that whoever killed this family would have been covered head to toe in their blood. With little exception, the flooring of McStay residence was wall-to-wall, beige carpeting. How does someone walk through this home, after killing everyone else in it, sit down at a desktop computer (that resides at the center of a carpeted room) and not leave a trail of blood?
And though walls might have been successfully painted over to hide spatter, how exactly do you get that much blood out of light, beige carpeting, to where no one is the wiser? And no one was the wiser. Ever. To date there has not been one published report of anyone who entered the McStay residence, stating that they believed a crime had occurred there. Not investigators, not family, not the new owners to the home.
This isn’t intended to cast Merritt in the light of innocence, although legally he is entitled to this status, but I do think it could put into question the overall accuracy or viability of the state’s case. Or, it could be argued that this is a missed opportunity by the defense to prove their client’s innocence. Where and by whom that 7:59 PM check was written, could be the smoking gun, or the perfect alibi depending on what is finally proven.
I guess we’ll see at trial what is actually known. For a crime with so many moving parts, this aspect of it is curious, to say the least.
For a more detailed account of the above, go to the Checks thread.
© Stephanie Collins (2016)