The gist of the state’s case in People v. Merritt, is that Charles (Chase) Merritt began stealing money (writing checks to himself) from Joseph McStay’s bank account (Union Bank) on February 1, 2010-via McStay’s Intuit Quickbooks (an online banking application).
Though no proof of this next has been produced, it is strongly implied that on Thursday, February 4, Joseph McStay discovers this theft, confronts Merritt about it at an in-person lunch meeting in Rancho Cucamonga.
Following his meeting with Merritt, McStay returns directly to Fallbrook, arriving to his home on Avocado Vista Lane at around 4:18 PM. That evening at 5:47 or 5:48 PM Merritt and McStay speak one last time.
Upon finishing this call, Merritt is then alleged to have abruptly departed Rancho Cucamonga in his 3500 Chevy utility vehicle, arriving to the McStay residence–perhaps within the hour. [Chase Merritt’s phone does not connect with any cellular towers again, until 9:32, but there are numerous incoming calls made to his cell during this “dark” period.]
Once at the McStay residence, Chase is thought to bludgeon the family to death, remove their bodies secreting them away inside his vehicle, and to depart the McStay driveway at 7:47 PM, exiting the cul de sac in which the McStay’s home sits very near the top.
The bottom 18″ of a like-vehicle to Merritt’s Chevy, is supposedly captured on a neighbor’s surveillance. (However, no license plate is captured, and there is reason to believe this truck’s rear lights may not be consistent with Merritt’s at all.)
What Merritt does with the McStays over the next day or so, is uncertain. Never addressed.
On February 6, 2010, Merritt’s cell phone “pings” cellular towers that offer coverage to the approximate vicinity, of what will much later be discovered to be the graves of the McStay family of four in Victorville-in easy visibility of I-15. One inference to be drawn is that Merritt buries the McStays on the 6th.
And here we are at trial.
Though no one aspect of the state’s narrative is impossible, all on its own—1) Merritt could have made the drive from his home to McStay’s in about an hour; 2) it is possible for one person to kill four people; 3) it is physically possible that Merritt could have buried four people in two shallow graves–it is in the totality of the narrative offered by the state, where implausibility arises.
According to state’s theory, Chase Merritt is a criminal mastermind while at the exact same time being one of the dumbest and most inconsistent criminals in recorded history:
It is presumed that the “dark periods” where Chase’s phone doesn’t ping, are times when Chase deliberately turned off his phone to evade later detection of his movement, by way of ping data. Yet, he speaks for over a half hour on the phone while burying his victims? Really?
He is alone with Joseph McStay at the meeting were it is hinted at, that Joseph may have confronted Chase, yet Chase doesn’t kill Joseph at this time, lure him somewhere. According to the state, Chase chooses instead to drive to a quiet cul de sac, where neighbors live within inches of one another, at rush hour, residents certain to be arriving home and perhaps departing again for evening activities, dogs in the McStay home, and four people to be killed without so much as a plan, other than a hammer he brings with him.
Chase would have no real way of knowing if someone other than family would be present. He may be familiar with Joseph’s schedule, but he was not close to Summer, so would have no way of knowing if she had invited someone over impromptu.
And though Chase knew the high desert well–well enough to know that bodies discarded in abandoned mine shafts that riddle that area, might never be found–he chose instead to bury four bodies in shallow graves within spitting distance of a major interstate, and in an area known to be frequented by off-terrain vehicles.
But no where is this theory more improbable than the idea that a spontaneous attack, by a lone killer with a hammer, would yield no real evidence following the event.
The McStay residence was wall to wall beige carpeting. There were very few areas where an attack like this could be perpetrated and there would be easy clean up. I am not a blood spatter expert, but I know enough to be believe this is a highly unlikely scenario. Not to mention the state has produced zero proof that that such an attack occurred in the McStay residence. Ever.
For a view of the home as first investigators found it please check out pics on this page: Exhibits
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