Saturday, February 19, 2011

People Disappear

Unfortunately people disappear every day on this planet. They disappear into thin air, no trace, no sound, no trail.

A second cousin of mine by the name of Robert Vasquez disappeared in 2005; here is his listing on Missing in NYC Robert is missing.

I wonder if they even work on his case. Is his story in some wrinkled folder in some brown box, dormant, no heartbeat, and no pulse?

Robert and I used to sit on my front steps and talk for hours about life and the unfortunate realities in our own lives. He was a good guy, deeply passionate and extremely smart. When I moved, we drifted apart. I would see him from time to time, but eventually I didn’t. I found out through family members that he vanished. I heard he became disoriented and developed some type of mental problem, but even so, does he not deserve to be found? No foul play suspected, so the assumption is he walked away.

A friend of mine recently contacted me about his friend Dennis Mullan of Virginia, who came to visit NYC for the New Year to witness the Times Square ball drop to announce the arrival of 2011. Dennis travelled to NYC alone, but told his mother he was visiting friends here. There is a surveillance video showing Dennis enter a cab outside of his hotel. He remains missing, his belongings left in his hotel room, including his cell phone and bags. No one knows where he was going; no one knows where he arrived or why he left. He is not even listed as missing on the NYC missing person government site and there are no mainstream media articles about his case. Does he not deserve to be found? But it is assumed Dennis walked away from his life.

It seems in most cases, law enforcement can only assume a person has walked away from their life. They imagine this person awoke and decided their life was too hard and that it was time to leave friends and family, their money in their bank accounts, all of their belongings and just vanish, hoping to start a new life, with a new name and the same face.

But for one person this decision under the most difficult circumstances may be an easy one to reach, but an entire family?

I have become obsessed with a case in which a family of four seems to have vanished into thin air. Missing is the McStay family from Fallbrook, California.

A little over a year ago the McStay family bought a new home in Fallbrook, CA; to anyone from the outside this home is beautiful and an American family’s dream. Much weight has been placed after the disappearance on Summer McStay’s disappointment in having to move. After the family disappeared several home movies were found where you could hear Summer making her opinions known about her dislike of the house and new neighborhood. According to family and friends, Summer loved their small beach front apartment and made quite a fuss about the move. Summer loved the beach and the move up into the mountains was at times too much for her.

The McStays needed more of a living space for their two young boys and Joseph and Summer finally agreed and the move was made. Eventually, Summer got over it and was excited about renovating her home. Joseph McStay was doing what any father or husband would do, trying his best to provide for his family and give them the benefit of owning their own spacious home. Joseph was in business for himself and designed lavish water fountains for a living, he made good money and it seemed their finances were stable.

February 4th began like any normal day for the McStays, Joseph made business calls. There is evidence that Summer shopped online, used her computer, spoke to her sister and made plans to visit her sister and new nephew.

At 7:47 p.m. a neighbor's security surveillance video catches what looks like the McStay’s vehicle leaving the cul de sac, the driver and occupants of the vehicle cannot be seen.

At 8:28pm Joseph makes a final call from his cell phone to his business partner (this call last only 1 minute). This is the last anyone would speak to Joseph.

For the next two days, family and friends call the McStay home but are unable to reach them. They send text messages and receive no response.

Joseph’s brother arrives at the home on February 13th to check on the family, he soon notices the McStay’s two dogs have been left outside with very little food and water. He gets into the house through an open window but finds nothing strange, however no sign of his brother, Summer or the children. He leaves and assumes the family is just out.

He later receives a call from animal control that reports the two dogs have been left outside with no food or water for over a week. Immediately the family realizes the McStays would never leave their beloved dogs out to starve.

On February 15th after several attempts by family to find them turn up nothing, a missing persons report is filed and law enforcement is notified. When the deputies enter the home, unlike Joseph’s brother, they find disturbing clues of a family who seems to have left in a hurry, including eggs and food rotting on the kitchen counter and two small bowls filled with popcorn left on the sofa. The family seems to have been living out of the sitting area as the rest of the house was being painted or worked on.

It looked like the McStays left their home either in a hurry or they left but assumed they would be back very quickly.

During the investigation a lot of information is examined. Searches of the McStay’s computer turn up clues that send law enforcement to examine the Mexican border. The first is inquiries made for language software to learn Spanish, in addition there were searches on what documents are needed to cross into Mexico, specifically for children all made around Jan. 27 and Jan. 28. There is no evidence however that the kids had passports and it seems Joseph was the only one with a valid passport because Summer’s was expired.

Law enforcement visits the nearest border crossing into Mexico which is 80 miles away from the McStay home. The detectives go through border surveillance at the nearest border crossing and come up with what they suspect may be the entire family walking across into Mexico with just the clothes on their backs on February 8th, four days after the last sighting of the family. Later that day they discovered the family’s vehicle parked in a lot near the crossing. Parking lot Security tells law enforcement that the vehicle was likely parked there from 5:30 to 7pm on February 8th.

Border Video

Various family members insist the family in the video is not the missing family. Some friends and family members agree that it looks like Summer and the kids but not Joseph, others say the children look like the children, but the adults are not the McStays. All of these thoughts are chilling and haunting.

Additional Interesting Information

The McStays had over $100k in their bank account, this money remains untouched along with credit cards, cell phones etc. There has been no activity on any of their accounts.

Summer McStay is in fact not named Summer and has changed her name at least twice in her lifetime. Here are some of her names: Lisa Aranda, Virginia Lisa Aranda, Summer Martelli, Summer McStay and Lisa Aranda Martelli.

Summer did not like to tell people she was Hispanic and really wanted to be Italian.

Summer was searching online for a homeopathic drug called “ANGER” which was said to help relieve the feeling of anger when sprayed into your mouth and tongue.

Summer once declined to go on a family vacation to Mexico because she thought it was too “dangerous” for her children.

If the McStay’s were last seen and heard from on February 4th – where were they from the 4th to the 8th when their vehicle was seen parked at the border parking lot and the images of the family crossing the border were documented? They had to be somewhere for those 4 days.

In the vehicle’s trunk were large toys that seemed to have just been bought.

Nothing was taken from the home according to the detectives.

On January 29th – Joseph met with two individuals at one of his son’s soccer games to discuss a purchase of the Spanish language software off of Craigslist.

The specific border crossing in question does not require any documentation to cross and does not take names, or photos of individuals crossing. Once inside Mexico there are no cameras recording anyone entering the country. Even upon your return into the USA, you may just need a driver’s license to get back in.

Detectives seem to know how much cash the family had on them and insist it was not enough to care for a family of four in Mexico or anywhere for that matter.

The last call Joseph made to his business partner was almost an hour after the entire family or Joseph leaves the home. Why was it only a minute long? After this call the phones go dead.

Although detectives have not stated that any clothing was taken from the house, Tim Miller (of Equuasearch) said he noticed clothing was missing from the home. However, the border crossing video shows a family with ZERO bags.

On the day they disappeared Joseph told his mother he didn’t feel well "Joe told me he wasn't feeling good that day. His equilibrium wasn't right and I felt something was wrong."

A sighting of the family in Mexico turned up because one of the little boys has a large pink birthmark on his forehead. A waiter says he was sure it was the McStay children because of the boy’s birthmark; he says the adults at the table were looking over a map. The waiter kept the map and forensic testing was done. Fingerprints were found, but they were not the McStay’s.

My Theory or Theories:

I think I have three theories in all. I go back and forth on them. I tried not to make them so complicated, because in reality these kinds of things are simpler but more horrifying.

Theory One – the most innocent:

From all of the photos I have seen, videos I have seen and stories I have read about Summer and Joseph, I have come to see them as a free spirited couple. I think when they met they were young and lived everyday on an open flow, never wanting to be ordinary or mainstream, they shared a love of the ocean and the beach. I think Summer was the most free of the two and just enjoyed being different and unique, changing her name was more of an expression of herself and it was exciting. They had children and tried desperatly to hold on to the free life, but with kids comes a lot of responsibility and living the surfer life was trying on Joseph who with his children maybe wanted a more traditional life for his boys. A house, dogs and the American dream. I think Summer rebelled against that and I believe they fought about this, with Joseph being told he was conforming, he wasn’t fun anymore or exciting. Maybe she even thought he lost his sense of adventure.

The move to Fallbrook maybe was Summer’s breaking point, going along with her husband out of loyalty and love, but in the end she was just not happy. I think they fought about this a lot and perhaps at her computer Summer began to think and imagine a new life in Mexico on the beach with the kids living simply again. Where they could ALL change their names and just go on this adventure together.

Maybe she wore Joseph down and on February 4th perhaps they took a drive and maybe they knew who to go to and get fake papers done for new identities. Perhaps it took four days to complete and during that time they finalized plans in Mexico away from their home. She left the food out because she didn’t care as she new she would not return.

Maybe they crossed into Mexico together, left their car because they didn’t want to be found. Maybe they don’t care that they are worrying their families – it has only been a year. Perhaps they will call.

But why leave all that money behind? Maybe they left it for the abandoned house? Perhaps they thought, leaving the house AND taking the money would make it a criminal act?

Theory Two – the split:

It bothers me that Joseph felt sick on February 4th and that he was dizzy. Summer’s search for the drug “Anger” is also worrying. Who was angry and who needed this drug?

Was there a fight on February 4th? Did mom hurt dad or did dad hurt mom? The food out on the counter and the uneaten bowls of popcorn scare me too. Did one parent rush the kids out to the car with a sick spouse? But the call Joseph made to his business partner an hour after the car is seen leaving is also strange. Who is this business partner? Did he actually speak to Joseph or was it Summer? Did Joseph’s phone just dial on its own?

From February 4th to February 8th – were one of these parents hiding a body? Or bodies? Did it take 4 days to figure out how to escape? Was the vehicle left at the mall parking lot near the border to make law enforcement believe they fled to Mexico and it just so happens another family who is not the McStays crossed the border and falsely reinforced the planted border info?

Perhaps Summer changed her name and looks and hurt Joseph? Or could it be the other way around?

Is it Summer in the video (officers say her clothing matches clothing missing from the home that she often wears) but is that NOT Joseph?

Theory Three – a family gone:

Summer often ordered items off line. She used Craiglist a lot and was always searching for a deal. Perhaps she met someone evil who began to look at the family closely, maybe became interested in the children. Perhaps these people got a good look at the kids at the soccer game. Maybe they befriended the family and completed a few transactions and gained their trust.

Maybe the night of February 4th someone arrived at their home unannounced and convinced them to take a drive to pick up items for the home. Maybe the drive was to be short and they were to return quickly. They leave and are met with evil at the meeting place.

Perhaps it is the children crossing the border but not the McStays. Maybe the adults took the McStay’s clothing posed as them and the children were the motive the entire time. Which would explain the sighting in Mexico but the wrong fingerprints.

The four days were used to dispose of the parents and formulate a plan.

Maybe on February 4th Joseph left the home alone to meet someone, made his one minute innocent call to his business partner, but when he reached his destination he was taken. It could be that later in the night, these persons went to the house and surprised Summer, taking her and the children by force.

Maybe this was a business deal gone bad and this business partner knows more?

Could it be that Joseph did something for money in order to buy the dream home that was unsavory and was fleeing danger and now they are afraid to reach out to family, because they want to be missing? Hiding for 4 days then crossing the border under the cover of night?

I want to believe they are alive.