SBSW 14 1849 10/20/2014

Search Warrant for Charles Ray Merritt medical records

SBSW-14-1849-Probable Cause Affidavit

Warrant Return

SBSW-14-1849-warrant return

 

 

SW 1849 Merritt's injuries
C Merritt Injuries at time of murders

 

SW 1849 Merritt Left Handed Medical Records
C Merritt’s claims of being injured contradicted by McStay home video

 

SW 1849 Merritt explains checks and QB cancellation
Merritt QuickBooks & Check Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

80 Comments

    1. Merritt has no history of violence. I don’t believe the crazy theories that he killed before. This guy never traveled. If he killed it would have been in his own backyard and he would have likely gotten caught.

      Like now. if he’s guilty.

      If he did this, what makes a decent sort of guy go that far?

      Again, if he did it.

      But why even steal? What was that about? This he has done before, and after.

      1. That’s why this case gets to you. If Chase did this, it’s a puzzle. If he didn’t its an even greater puzzle, cause, then who did?

  1. Merritt and his girl were having a very bad 2009. Doesn’t mean he killed anyone, but it really looks like things were rough.

      1. I was looking at what was going on. The probation problems; the financial problems. they are foreclosed on, just at the McStays purchase a house bought in foreclosure.

        The stress may have impacted Merritt’s work. Maybe gambling helped him cope.

        I can see lots and lots of motivation to steal. But I don’t know if I see motivation for murder.

          1. But the timing. That’s the thing that gets me every time. The timing of the theft.

            It’s like that Dateline show I posted. I just feel there is something to this story that is missing.

              1. My internet “lunatic-fringe” theory has always been that Merritt, IF he did this, had a chick on the side who assisted in a number of ways. Most of what happened in this crime does not require brute strength. (not saying a woman couldn’t have this)–but here’s the interesting pattern.

                Coming up soon in one of the SWs is one of the more poignant statements by investigators, relating to Merritt’s lack of long term relationships outside of Jarvis.

                It’s probably unusual that Merritt had a close male friend. He seems to be one of those men who has an easier time getting close to a woman.

                Going along with my theory that Joey gave Merritt a password to the Custom account (which in theory should only have given Merritt viewing privileges)–lets say Merritt has this password beginning in 2008 when Joey opens that account on his QB program. The starting of an account dedicated to his work with Merritt seems significant. It’s a committment of sorts to Merritt as a colleague.

                Then starting in 2009, first of the year something goes wrong. Because by March of 2009 these really slimy lawyers foreclose on the Merritts (I looked the bank and the lawyers up, they are A-holes) So the Merritts like the rest of the nation get screwed out of their home–and yes, maybe they were behind on their payments,however both the bank and the lawyers that kicked them out have a terrible rep.

                By November 2009, though, Merritt is threatened with eviction again. So what the heck is going on????

                When you look at the 2007 financials, even with overhead and expenses, he must have been clearing around 100K or at least 80 or 90 k.

                1. So 2007, great year for Merritt and Joey; 2008, probably also good. 2009, something goes wrong. And here Merritt is with a password to this QB account. But the view he has into Joey’s finances is limited. The custom side only shows the amounts coming in for projects the two are working on together, and the amounts Joey advances Merritt (I’m guessing) and what’s owed Merritt.

                  I do not buy for a minute that SUDDENLY joey decides that Merritt should write his own checks.

                  That simply makes no sense. So how does Merritt realize that he can write checks to himself? Where does this idea come from?

                  1. Like you said, in this theory Chase has maybe played around a little with the program when he looked up the finances. We don’t know how far back the warrant went for the QB analysis. Maybe Merritt had tested his idea out over time. Practicing on regular paper. Then deleting the transactions.

                    As long as he never cashed a check, joey might never know.

                    1. That’s true. It’s possible that Merritt did fool with the program but the QB warrant didn’t go back that far, and besides, LE was searching for cashed checks.

                    2. OK. So Merritt plays with the program-but why, when they are at the start of all these projects, would he choose to steal then?

                      If you notice, there is little mention of possible firing in these later warrants.

                      There is nothing to indicate Joey actually had another welder lined up, because when he goes missing, it’s Merritt, DK and the family. No other worker is brought into the meetings held to save the business.

                      Joey changed none of his passwords.

                      There is nothing at all tangible to show that Joey had any intention of getting rid of Merritt or cutting him off.

                      So why doesn’t Merritt just wait? The Saudi deal was going to be done in just a few weeks. It has a March due date.

                      WHY WHY does Merritt suddenly start stealing?

                      (And I do believe he was stealing. Not sure he killed anyone, but I don’t for a minute believe that anyone with a family and mortgage hands over his checkbook to another person)

                    3. I’m not sure he was stealing but if he was, maybe he owed so much to Joey that he wasn’t going to see another big check for awhile.

                    4. That makes sense. Why else might he steal? I don’t think this was about greed. I think it was about survival.

    1. I don’t think so. Merritt has worked too hard to get a defense he likes to now suddenly give up.

      I do think that something regarding evidence is being debated. These last few hearings are awfully hush hush. But it seems as if both the defense and the DA want this.

  2. From what I understand about QB. You have to pay for a multi user account to have more than one person using. But you can access the account from anywherr

    1. Max,

      It does seem possible that Joey gave Merritt the password to the account so that he could keep track of incoming and outgoing expenses on their projects.

      With all the advances this might have been a helpful means of communication.

      And I looked up that remote access. You can print from a remote location.

      What it will be interesting to see at trial is how much LE actaully knows about the source of the Merritt check writing.

    1. Kelly,

      I don’t know. I don’t know what the situation was for IP data retention in 2010. (Just in 6 years the industry had changed so much.)

      What is confusing to me is the manner in which investigators and the DA have presented the evidence around the QB check writing. They aren’t explicit. Not even at the prelim, which is 7 months after the arrest.

      And the DA tends to be explicit when he has firm confirmation of what occurred.

      The DA states only that the device used to write the checks DID NOT come from within the McStay home. Why not state what device was used for those transactions?

      Could be that data around this is too complex for a prelim and will require expert witness testimony, but it leaves room for questions.

      If QB doesn’t retain records of each time a login and password are used, and only retains the transactions recorded, it’s possible that LE can only confirm these logins by way of the computer used.

        1. Let me see if I can simplify this.

          When we use our computers there are a number of markers that record our “identity” and the history of our usage.

          There are two IP addresses-one is on the hard drive of the individual computer itself. Then there is the IP designated to you by the server, i.e. AT&T, Comcast, etc.–the address that others will see when you comment on WordPress. (By the way, when you comment on a WordPress blog your server IP appears to the blog owner-just an FYI)

          The server IP address is like a street address, and the internal computer hard drives IP is like giving your personal name.

          Your hard drive has numerous “places” where it also stores information about what has been done by way of that computer.

          Then there is the footprint you leave when you visit a domain or website. Cookies. A computer forensics specialist can subpoena what you did on a given site and they can identify you, by aligning the time your hard drive indicats you were there, with the IP address (if the website saves this), etc.

          All the above information is stored separately. The data is not all in one place. And computer forensics attempts to look at all that information and then assess from it all who did what, on what computer, when and where they went on the internet.

          The question here is DID QuickBooks, in 2010 store the server IP addresses. Did they retain data around log-ins, etc? Could investigators attain this information in 2014?

          OR were SBC investigators forced to assume certain things?

          1. Air cards generate a server IP address. If Merritt used the family AT&T air card to perform the QB transactions, why doesn’t QB have a record of that IP address being used?

            The fact that no one seems to know, leads me to think this data wasn’t kept. That it might not have been available to investigators in 2014. But that seems unlikely.

            I don’t’ know. It’s just odd that the DA was so vague and that the SWs are vague as well.

            1. Are you all familiar with “clouds” or virtual storage of computer data?

              At one time it was really costly to retain a lot of computer data, now for next to nothing you can keep this information on a “cloud”. Which is actually banks and banks of hard drives located in places like New Mexico. Banks and banks of hardware.

              God help us if those get destroyed.

                1. The best analogy I can give is if you live with two roommates and have a home where all the doors are kept shut at night. In the morning you get up first and open the door to the kitchen.

                  You eat breakfast leave. Then another roommate comes into the kitchen, only drinks coffee, leaves.

                  The third roommate enters the kitchen and can see the door is open, but doesn’t know who ate and who drank coffee.

                  I’m wondering i in 2010 QuickBooks was like this.

                  The program registered that an account had been logged into with a certain password–but every other log-in doesn’t register, because the door is already open.

                  As long as the account name and password are the same, this new entry is not logged.

                    1. I think what Grav is saying is that it might be possible that QB doesn’t know who logged in other than that a certain password was used. And a log-in from another location might not show up.

                      If Joey logged in to QB early on Friday and Chase logged in from some place else later that day using the same exact log in info. that might not be evident.

    1. OK. Here’s an easy way to see what I mean. I just logged onto this page. I then wrote a comment “experiment” then went back and looked at my web history.

      All that is recorded there is that I entered this page. The fact that I wrote something while here isn’t recorded.

      As long as I don’t travel to a new web address, say another page, or click on a link, my computer has no record of what I’m doing while I’m at that address.

      I don’t’ have QB, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the same is true on that site.

      1. So if Joey just left the site up, and then a check was later entered, there’s no way of knowing if that check was written from Joey’s computer or another?

        1. Seems possible. If IP addresses aren’t kept and the only way to know where a transaction was initiated is by way of the hard drive of the computer used, then how would anyone know where that transaction was initiated, 4 years after the fact.

          It’s an assumption that because Joey’s computer had logged on, that this transaction occurred from it.

          AND I COULD be WRONG!!!!!

          It’s just odd to me that investigators are not explicit as to where Merritt was and on what device he was writing these checks.

  3. I’m a little confused Grav, explain to me again how LE isn’t certain of where the Chase checks were written and printed…

    1. Sleuth, I don’t know that they aren’t certain, but here are some of the reasons I think they might not be certain:

      1) The warrant for the air card isn’t requested until October 2014? Why so late in the game. Why didn’t they get this when they got the other phone records?

      2) In that warrant, it is stated that the search might lead investigators to know where Merritt was at given times and if that air card was used to access the QB. They don’t ever say that this air card was used. And if the air card was Merritt’s primary internet access, then why wouldn’t he have used this?

      3) In the preliminary hearing transcript every time the DA knows for a fact that Merritt did something, like when he called to cancel QBs, this is stated. Yet when the DA presents the info about the check writing on Joey’s account, he states only that the computer used was a device not found in the McStay home. Why not be explicit?

      This led me to wonder if QB did not retain IP addresses for given transactions. And if that’s the case, how do investigators know when QB was accessed from the home and when it was accessed from outside the home.

      My conclusion for the moment is that they came to these deductions not by way of IP addresses, but by way of the McStay home computer hard drives (which do store a history of internet activity for that given computer).

      1. If all the above is true, than LE is making an assumption that on Feb 4 the 7:59pm check was written on the Desktop computer. They don’t know this as fact.

        What we do know is that at around noon Joey signed onto QB from that desktop computer. And according to the preliminary hearing, he did not sign out.

        Then there is this check writing that happens at 7:59pm when Joey is most likely incapacitated or dead.

        What if LE assumed, because QB was open on the desktop, that this transaction happened from that computer? If they don’t have IP addresses for each transaction, how would they know?

        Does that make sense?

          1. That could be. Go to your web history on your computer. Observe what is recorded. On my web history it only records when I enter a site and if I go to another web address, but if I stay on that same address and perform an action, this isn’t recorded.

            I’m not a computer expert, but I do wonder how concrete that part of the state’s case is.

            We’ll see. I could be completely wrong. Only, it makes more sense if that check is written elsewhere. Again, who kills an entire family–and drenched in their blood, drives away with their bodies, only to return, and enter a small den, wall to wall beige carpeting, to draft a check that is never printed?

            Who does that?

            The rest of the crime is well executed, so why would someone be erratic, depart from the norm, for this one useless act? This act is complelty inconsistent with the rest of the crime.

            It’s dumb and risky as hell.

  4. Do you think that some of those blackout times, when Merritt’s phone doesn’t ping at all were times he used a burner?

    1. We are entering a place of pure speculation here, that said, YES. I do think that if Merritt had help, he was able to obscure this. And if he was having an affair his own cell phone can’t be used.

      The live-in girlfriend has complete access to those records. If Merrritt was seeing someone else, he would have used a different phone for sure. And it might be that if he was seeing someone else, they introduced him to someone who helped.

      I do believe more than one person is directly involved in this crime. Could be that Merritt abducted the family, and had help at the graves. And if burner phones are involved, Merritt probably paid cash for those, so there would be no record.

      It might be that he was hiding certain relationships from his live-in before murder became an option.

      It will all come down to how much of those “black-out” phone periods can be accounted for. That seems to me to be one of he defense’s biggest jobs. Getting their client to be clear on what he was doing, when.

  5. If Chase is conspiring with someone else regarding the check writing. And that check written at 7:59pm is a test, how would Chase know the test worked? He doesn’t call anyone but his girlfriend and that’s at 9:32pm.

    1. Yes. But he makes that call from the Mira Loma area. Maybe he makes a point of not having that woman’s number on his cell because all bills go to his live-in girlfriend–the accounts are in her name, right?

      Maybe he has ways of meeting up wtih this woman. If the family isn’t killed in their home. If they are just knocked out, maybe Chase needs to make certain he can still access the accounts before he kills joey. He stops, meets this person he has been ahving an affair with–no record of her on his known phone. She says, all is OK. Checks can still be written.

      Chase drives off that night and finishes the job.

      It’s a very real possibility that whoever helped Chase-you know, if he was helped–communicated wtih Chase either through a burner phone or in person.

      Chase would know that any calls he got could be monitored by the mother of his children. Could be Chase led a life she didn’t know about.

      If he killed this family he’s clearly capable of deception.

      1. The sheriff’s department really thought there was an accomplice and I’m sure that they interviewed people, but if Chase was hiding this person from his family, then they would have been hidden from anyone. It could have been someone he saw in the course of work or gambling. Maybe a fellow gambler.

        It might be a connection that is untraceable by phone contact. Or his wife was in on it. Maybe she’s not so innocent.

        1. Anon 5:33 you’re going to see in the next few warrants that the “wife” or live-in girlfriend appears to be ruled out as a suspect. And if you look at some of Merritt’s actions the week the family is killed, it would seem he might be hiding the new money from her.

          Up until the week of Feb 1, from what we know, Merritt didn’t have his own bank account. The money was probably going to the live-in (wife) and she was paying the bills. Almost everything seems to be in her name, including the house they owned before foreclosure.

          Suddenly on Feb 2 Merritt opens a Bank of America account. The question is, why? Why all of a sudden? And why that week?

          If you believe he did this, it might add to the calculated nature of the murders. It might not be that Merritt got caught by Joey (there’s nothing really to indicate that he did. Joey didn’t change any passwords or tell anyone about this, that we know of)–The horrible truth just might be that the minute Merritt realized he could get away with writing checks to himself from Joey’s account, the family’s fate was sealed. And Merritt was just waiting for the right day to do the deed.

          If he’s guilty, I suspect this might have been what happened. I do believe that whoever killed the family, had given a lot of thought as to how to do it. This wasn’t a crime of passion.It was planned.

  6. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I actually believe that the outcome of this entire case may hinge on that 7:59pm check.

    Call me crazy, but I’m willing to wager.

  7. OK. So this warrant goes into detail about all the the factors that have led investigators to Merritt and explains why they are now solely focused on him.

    What do you think about the case as it is laid out in this one SW PCA?

    1. Gravitas,

      You had mentioned that you weren’t certain where the check was written from –I’m referring to the check written the night of the murders in the McStay home.

      Reading these affidavits and now that I read the prelim hearing, I don’t think investigators ever found out exactly where Chase was when he wrote those checks. Maybe his story doesn’t checkout on this.

      I wonder if maybe someone else was writing the checks for him. That he didn’t actually write those checks. And on Feb 4, while he is killing the family, that same person tries to write a check.

        1. Sure. But that only means Chase is in Rancho, doesn’t mean the checks are being written there. He could have been at his workshop working.

          there were a few delays betweeen cheks being written and those same checks being deposited. Maybe whoever was helping him had to either bring him the checks or he went to get them.

              1. If the person helping him with writing the checks is a woman, then Chase would have to make the call. He claims to be Joey when he calls QB-so that call would have to be made by a man.

                1. I have given a lot of thought to what Gravitas pointed out about this crime not seeming typical of Chase. And if Chase did kill the family, it makes no sense that he would leave the McStay home with people he just killed, and then go back.

                  When I read the prelim it sounds to me like LE isn’t cerain where these checks are being written. And if the live-in girlfriend doesn’t know about them–you know if she’s telling the truth, then those checks were not written at Chase’s house.

                  Maybe he had a chick on the side who helped him. He did the dirty work, but she helpe write checks, drive certain vehicles here and there. Maybe LE should be looking for a woman with a four wheel drive 76 inches in tire width.

                  1. Everyone thinks only men can be devious, but I can tell you from experience, women can be evil too. Just dont’ tell my wife I said so.

                    1. So what your theory is, is that Merritt gave the password to someone he was working with on this. She wrote checks from her computer and printed them on her printer, and then gave him those checks.

                      And if QB doesn’t keep records of IP addresses, or didn’t in 2010, there would be no real way for LE to know this.

                      Hmmmmmmmm. That’s an idea I’ve played with, but I think you make a good point, if on the night of the murders Merritt wants to be certain he can still access Joey’s bank account, he might want someone to try–maybe not print those checks but try to write a check. It does seem possible that investigators are wrong about where that 7:59 check was actually written.

                    2. My theory has been that Merritt always had the password to the Custom account. Joey gave it to him straight away, as means for the two men to be able to have a reference on what was owed to Merritt.

                      The Custom account was separate from the Contacts account that had ALL of Joey’s finances. And it’s clear Merritt never had this info, or he would have been able to successfully cancel QuickBooks when he tried.

                      Merritt only ever had the Custom sign in info.

                    3. Could have been that those withdrawls made at Casinos didn’t go to gambling. And Chase did cash some of the checks. Do we know where any of that money went?

                      It’s speculation. But I’m with you, I sense the presence of someone else on this case. Someone other than Chase. And if Chase did the killing and the burial, all the other work, including the cleaning and driving could easily have bene done by a woman. Why not?

                      Maybe Chase can’t admit to where he was when he wrote those checks because he was either at work or at home and in both cases people near him know he wasn’t writing a check.

                    4. You’re right this is total speculation. But intriguing. It will be interesting to see at trial if the DA has conclusive information on this, one way or the other.

  8. Anon99,

    That’s a really interesting point about the lack of basic redactions related to personal information (some of the people were never even suspects) on these search warrants. I don’t think, as the public, we needed this much personal information on anyone involved in the case. We were given addresses, and license plate numbers, the works. And with the lunatic fringe of the internet having been a part of this case from day one, this type of information needs to be held back.

    And though I think the DA should have given this need for privacy consideration and have requested these redactions, In a way, this was the defense’s job to make certain that Merritt and those persons who Merritt cares about were protected. At the end of the day,

    It makes you wonder how closely the defense team examined the warrants, themselves. Were they even aware of how much personal information was about to be released?

    Maybe their focus was more on the results of the warrants, than on the warrants affidavits. Wait. Take that back. They did request some redactions. So why they didn’t ask for more is a bit of a mystery to me.

    1. Here’s something I don’t get. If Chase’s lawyers believe he will be acquitted why didn’t they ask that his personal info be redacted? His full name, social, birtdate EVERYTHING are published in the SW.

      1. I thought that was strange too. They asked for certain redactions, but if Merritt were to be acquitted his personal info is right out there for the taking.

      2. SleuthSlayer,

        I agree. The defense should have asked for a lot of redactions regarding personal information of the girlfriend and her daughter too.

        But you’re right. Why didn’t they ask for a redaction of all Chase’s personal information. If you look up the charging papers even, his social security number is blacked out. Yet there it is for the entire world to steal in the search warrants.

        1. Does Chase even have the kind of credit record that he has to worry about his identity being stolen? He owes money to the IRS. How far is an identity theif going to get before the IRS is on their tail?

          1. If he is acquitted he could possibly rebuild his credit. Maybe he does sell a book and make fortune. You never know. In this day and age you just don’t want that info out there.

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