Joseph McStay’s father, Patrick McStay, has been an important and determined advocate for his son from the moment the McStay family went missing. Had anyone listened to Patrick in the early days of the family going missing, things might have turned out very differently.
I’ve been an internet voyeur to this case for over a decade now, and remember all the investigative work he did. Not only did he point to a number of persons of interest, he also looked at events within the housing division the McStays had just moved into. Apparently there had been a series of burglaries at that time. One neighbor interviewed mentioned to a reporter that they had started a neighborhood watch because of this.
Neighbors were alert. There was one neighbor in particular who gave numerous interviews. He had been unemployed at the time, and had vivid memories of the McStays just from viewing them from his home. He didn’t see anything unusual around the time of the murders. That is telling.
But most importantly, the lesson here may be that investigators need to listen to family members more. And not just the family members who are standing right in front of them, but to those who have information that is unique to their relationship with the victims.
The documentary “Two Shallow Graves” featured Patrick McStay. It is clear that Joseph’s father knew about his son’s business-Earth Inspired Products-and knew Joseph in a way that might have led this case to be looked at as a crime early on, before valuable evidence was lost.
This miscarriage of justice exemplifies the need for investigators to not only receive better training in forensics (San Bernardino seems way, way behind in forensic science), but investigators also appear to need better training in listening to those closest to the victims, or in this case, missing persons.
If this case had been handled as a likely abduction/homicide from day one, the real killers might have been found years ago. Whoever did this had to have left evidence behind in that home. There has to have been someone who saw something–maybe a neighbor of the killers, if there is a third crime scene.
But the misguided importance placed on surveillance footage taken at the San Ysidro border was extraordinary considering that the entire family told law enforcement–Summer and Joey would never have take those kids to Mexico. It was just too dangerous.
And what San Diego investigators never did, was get the surveillance from all the stores near to where the Trooper was parked. Patrick McStay asked for this. Investigators looked at a little footage, but they could have looked at so much more.
I do hope that lessons will be learned from this case and that laws will be changed around missing persons. There is a damaging rippling effect from assumptions made that perhaps should have been tempered with input from those closest to the victims.