Three large vehicles, one short driveway.

In review: On the evening of February 4, 2010, both McStay vehicles-the Dodge truck and Isuzu Trooper-were likely parked in the McStay driveway.  This was testified to by neighbor Jennifer Mitchley who stated that she recalled the Trooper backed into the drive (she didn’t say when exactly, but the inference to be drawn is that it was customary for both the Dodge and the Trooper to be parked side by side, at the top of the drive).

[Chase Merritt in his 2010 interview with San Diego investigators, did state that Joseph’s Trooper was always parked in the street.  Not sure how he would know this occurred on the days he wasn’t present.  Also, Chase was there usually in the mornings, it seems. At the end of the day, when Mitchley would have viewed the McStay residence, the Trooper may have been parked in the drive, because Summer didn’t take the kids out then.  So, where Joseph parked may have varied or be uncertain.  I actually trust Mitchley’s account more, but this could be my own confirmation bias.]

If Mitchley’s recollection is accurate, how then was a third vehicle, a large truck, parked on that drive as well?

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San Diego Reader

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Testimony of Jennifer Mitchley


  • The picture above with the car in the McStay drive is not of their vehicle, it just gives a clear picture of how short that driveway is.

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Twitter-Rob McMillan ABC 7

24 thoughts on “Three large vehicles, one short driveway.

  1. And here is the Trooper backed into the drive, next to the Dodge. Child seats in Dodge. Why when the Trooper was found, were the child seats in it? Makes no sense to any theory where the family is killed or abducted from the home.

  2. And again, I’m not married to the K-turn theory. I just think all possibilities need to be considered.

  3. Going back and recalling all the lore on this case. I remember way back, before the McStays were found, there were people posting on forums certain that Joseph’s Trooper had been backed into the driveway when parked. And I never asked, but at the time I wondered how folks were so certain. I’m wondering now if this information wasn’t published somewhere, or someone had spoken to Mitchley-maybe Mike McStay had posted about this? I had wondered at the time why everyone was so certain. How could they know?

    And then when Mitchley testified to this, it makes sense.

  4. In that video from twitter you can see how the truck swerves out really far. Why would a driver swerve that far? Why not just come out of the drive and go straight?

  5. I hadn’t realized the drive was that short. So how would that truck have even been on the driveway that night? Could someone have been gone, and came home and the killers were there?

    1. Yes. But then where would that vehicle park. Say for instance, Joseph leaves that evening and gets take-out, where would he have parked when he came back? And when was his Trooper taken? The other question here would be, if Mitchley noticed this type of thing, might she not have noticed the Trooper parked on the curbside the next morning if this was unusual? Or have noticed it was gone completely?

    2. What I really think might be possible (this suggested by someone else on another post) is that someone in a truck, perhaps renovating another home in that complex, turned down Avocado VL thinking this would lead them to an express way, at the point they reach the McStay home, they realized they were in a cul de sac, and just did a simple left-Y-turn. They could have made a hard left, as they went forward toward the opposite side of the road, pulled straight back, cresting the McStay drive, then pulled forward-hard left again–which would explain why the truck was so close to the opposite sidewalk when captured on surveillance. If you are pulling out from that low a point on the drive, you would almost be forced to cross the street as you drove forward.

      It makes sense in a number of ways, all the other vehicles captured on surveillance drive center down the road at that point in the cul de sac. None of them are that close to the neighbors curb. And this would also explain why it appeared that the vehicle was exiting the McStay drive, front first.

      1. And when I look at the way the Dodge is parked, Summer left room for Joey’s car. If joey always parked on the street, why wouldn’t Summer just take the entire drive? Where she is parked, it leave room for him to park too.

        1. Yes. Exactly.

          And in all these 3D recreations, it has never made sense to me, why that truck would go so far to the opposite side of the road. There are a number of explanations, but the Y-turn makes the most sense to me.

          1. Excellent observations! Since, those questions, have not been answered, to this point, they probably, never will be.

            1. Probably not. But there might be some guy out there who has no idea that when he happened to turn his truck around in a cul de sac one night, his headlights and parking lights became the lynchpin in a murder case.

                1. Yes. That’s what I meant by Y turn. It would give that appearance. When you make a Y turn you back into someone’s drive and come out nose first. I just looked this up, it’s actually called a 3 point turn or a K turn.

                  Here’s a really obnoxious video on this.

                  In the video the car isn’t using a driveway. But when I would make these turns I usually looked for a driveway because it allows you to back up more. And for a truck this might be important. I don’t know this is what that was, but if Joseph is home, both of the McStay’s vehicles are almost certainly in the driveway.

                2. You must have learned this turn in driver’s Ed. If you want to turn around in the middle of the street, you stop, pull forward turning the wheel, hard-left. Then you are in the middle of the street nose to one curb, rear to the other. You back up straight, usually into someone’s driveway, and then you pull out again, hard-left-voila, you are headed now in the opposite direction.

                  It would appear that you had just left that person’s drive.

                  Remember that the angle of the camera isn’t really capturing the vehicle head on. It’s just capturing the headlights. There’s no way for the camera to know how far up the drive those headlights originate from.

                  1. Yes you’ve mentioned this contention before. I’ve never heard of a Y or K turn, only a 3 point turn. I guess it depends on part of the world you’re in.

                    First of all, it makes zero sense for someone to make a 3 point turn to turn around with the end of the cul-de-sac right there in front of them.

                    Second, the truck is clearly pulling out of the driveway. I don’t know how you’re missing (or ignoring) this obvious ‘fact’. Even the defense acknowledges this.

                    1. I’ve looked at the video a number of times. The angle of the camera is not straight onto the drive. What the camera is picking up are the headlights after the vehicle has entered the street and is already turning. So that could just as likely be a truck on the final part of the K turn, as it could be a truck exiting the drive.

                      I make K turns all the time before reaching the end of a cul de sac. That’s what made me think of it. It’s just faster.

                    2. The defense hasn’t really acknowledged anything about that truck, other than their contention that it isn’t Chase’s.

                    3. This is what the camera captured. You can’t tell where on the McStay driveway this vehicle descended from. Only that the vehicle was captured at the point it was nose first and leaving the cul de sac.

                      There is one more camera angle on this, but I’m having difficulty locating it.

                    4. There is video of the headlights at night from this angle, but I can’t find it right now. Here, though, is the camera angle as seen during the day. You can see from this that the camera doesn’t capture the driveway, it would only capture the headlights after the truck leaves. So that truck could have been parked there, but it also could have just completed a K-turn.

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