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.


Sophie LaPorte-Blair said...

The first intelligent posting I have read on the entire internet on this subject. W/o training, you SPECULATE instead of becoming opinionated, and even offer multiple solutions to each situation. If you're not a scientist, you should be one because that's how we do things: pose questions (multiple, about the same known facts) and attempt to prove or disprove and leave the opinions alone. Since you're just about the only reasonable commentator out there, I respect your thoughts and I'll posit a few things I've had in mind to hear your take on them. Following are a couple of postings I made today on the McStay family site.

Sophie LaPorte-Blair said...

Not sure my 2nd comment - which is a forward of the 1st one I posted on the McStays' site went through... Here it is again, just in case:
Interestingly enough, I do not see anyone mentioning the fact that many people who go into MX to buy medication - INCLUDING HOMEOPATHICS - leave their car in parking lots at the border and WALK across to buy them. The reasons are simple: the pharmacies are right on the other side, it only takes 1/2h-1h max (especially for homeopathics), and people on foot are very very rarely searched. Remember that Summer's last phone call from her cell was to a Homeopathic Products company, asking for something for "anger" as she called it. One of the best natural remedies for that is Kava (and not "Kava Kava", as nicknamed in the US). I had some at a Kava ceremony at a resort island in Fiji in 1999 and it is so strong in liquid form that the entire mouth and lips area goes numb! Fiji, Tonga, etc... - after peak sales in exports in the 90s - now have problems selling it to the US, Australia and some other countries as some people abuse it. It is difficult to even get the calming effect from the pill form sold in the US previously, yet it is now extremely hard, if not impossible, to find here. MX, on the other hand... So, my 2 cents? Find pharmacies and/or stores that sell natural remedies hard to find in the US but happen to be right on the other side of the border, and ask questions. Someone, during these 4 days, told them where to find what she was seeking - desperately as she seemed to have nervous issues and wanted to avoid medical drugs. Just a thought... This story has affected me more than any other ever and even though the police have probably thought of everything, I can't help raking my brains and post it, just in case...

judith Sumner said...

I have a possible scenario , one that makes sense of this
Impossible case. What if .......
A girl named Summer lives with dreams and needs constant changes in her life ie several new names that take her fancy as well a a very fertile imagination. Living by the sea meets a well off lover (I am Australian and well off means rich) he is on holidays by the sea and Summer lives there ....maybe he is involved in the drug trade? ,,,they fall in love as Mr McStay decides to move his family away .
Summer then plans the murder of the century with her new lover,
Now it all makes sense as poor Joseph
goes on his normal life still contacting business partners about deliveries as Summer gets him to drive them after he returns from work to heaven knows where but he certainly meets his doom there,,,,,as for the kitchen that scene is certainly staged ,,,,,, popcorn for the kids to keep them occupied till Joseph returns home and as for the food stuff
It is only eggs and a banana not exactly a cooked meal
She staged this to look like they left in a hurry ,,,,
It takes 4 days for the lover to dispose Joseph but the toys keep the kids occupied. They then cross the border whereby Josephs mum can identify Summer and the kids but the man does not look like her son. ...
I rest my case ....I hope that I am wrong ,

judith Sumner said...

I have a possible scenario , one that makes sense of this
Impossible case. What if .......
A girl named Summer lives with dreams and needs constant changes in her life ie several new names that take her fancy as well a a very fertile imagination. Living by the sea meets a well off lover (I am Australian and well off means rich) he is on holidays by the sea and Summer lives there ....maybe he is involved in the drug trade? ,,,they fall in love as Mr McStay decides to move his family away .
Summer then plans the murder of the century with her new lover,
Now it all makes sense as poor Joseph
goes on his normal life still contacting business partners about deliveries as Summer gets him to drive them after he returns from work to heaven knows where but he certainly meets his doom there,,,,,as for the kitchen that scene is certainly staged ,,,,,, popcorn for the kids to keep them occupied till Joseph returns home and as for the food stuff
It is only eggs and a banana not exactly a cooked meal
She staged this to look like they left in a hurry ,,,,
It takes 4 days for the lover to dispose Joseph but the toys keep the kids occupied. They then cross the border whereby Josephs mum can identify Summer and the kids but the man does not look like her son. ...
I rest my case ....I hope that I am wrong ,

Anonymous said...

I like Sophie's homeopathic drug theory. In some ways it fits. However, there are a couple of holes. The McStays were last heard from on Feb. 4th. Supposedly, their vehicle was left on the border Feb. 8th, which leaves 4 days unaccounted. It is possible the timeline is incorrect, but what would explain them not answering their calls and texts? New info has put Joey's last call near the Old Bonsall Bridge and Summer's phone pinged in that area for 2 days. Did they dispose of their phones in that location, were they attacked or detained there, or were they hanging out there for some unknown reason? It is unfortunate that area wasn't searched and the business establishments weren't canvassed right after the family was reported missing. At the time, the media reported that Joey's last phone call pinged off the Fallbrook tower near their home, which was 7 miles east of the Old Bonsall Bridge. One wonders, why the mixup? Was it the sheriff's mistake or did the phone company give them incorrect info? I wish I knew the answer.

William Keckler said...

I liked your post.

You pretty much went the same directions I did with theorizing, and realize how contradictory some of the facts seemingly are.

I don't buy S.L-B's theory about the search for homeopathic remedies in Mexico. If they were going for any sort of treatment in Mexico, it would have probably be more likely that it was for a very serious health condition like cancer. Remember years ago when so many Americans were going to Mexico for the drug laetrile, banned in the U.S. (at that time, anyway).

But the commenter who follows Ms. LaPorte-Blair adequately addresses the problems with that theory. Your phones don't go dead and you don't spend four days wandering around before crossing over. Everything is available on the internet for people with money.

Which brings me to something that troubles me. I haven't verified what you said about going to meet a guy about software for learning the Spanish language. That sounds really suspicous to me because you can pick up that software anywhere. Unless they were super economizers and loved buying things used. But you can order stuff online and have it at your front door the next day or two days later. You might go through craigslist to buy a hard to find item or something, but that's like going on craigslist to look for office supplies. Who does that? I thought it was unstated why he met the guy through Craigslist. Could you have conflated the two facts (the software and the craigslist meeting) on your own?

I'm still not sure whether that last phone call to his business partner was one of the most significant facts in the case or nothing at all and completely incidental.

Was it a goodbye or a final thought relating to the business, now that he knew the family was leaving for good?

We don't know what was said in that call or even if law enforcement were told the truth about the nature of that call. Even if law enforcement told us what the business partner said, we'd have no way of knowing if it were the truth or not. The conversation is lost. It will only be evidentiary as a legal declamation whose truth-value cannot be verified.

Nikra said...

The Craigslist software story is true. I am beginning to think they are dead. I think of them often.

Anonymous said...

I am fascinated with missing persons and think about them often. I first heard of the mcstay family on investigation discovery in december 2010.. since then the case has crossed my mind. Its so strange, esp since its a family of 4. I hope they're found safe. If not, they're with god.

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Anonymous said...

What a sad ending. The family was found in the Mojave Desert, buried in a 2 ft. deep grave. Rest in Pease, Joseph, Summer and the precious boys...

Anonymous said...

I think that the business partner has something to do with this. I was reading last night that this couple had been struggling financially 3 months prior. They had no money. They couldn't even make the rent payment. All of a sudden they buy a house and have $100K in the bank. Where did it come from? Were he and the partner involved in other activities? Something happened that night. They were probably taken at gun point. All of them. Kids probably knew the killer too. This is why the kids had to be killed. Its so sad. The woman was a shady character herself. Who changes their name? This killing is going to get solved. Its the partner and I heard he is now living in Costa Rica.... hmmmmm WOnder why he fled?

Anonymous said...

What is so bizzare is how the killer had the time to DIG the TWO foot deep hole and long enough for a body. And then the 2nd hold was 20 feet away. I wonder why not all next to eachother? Maybe they dug hole before they were killed? Or the killer found the spot, dug hole and brought the bodies to the spot. They were killed somewhere else, not there. They were only buried there to hide them. It had to of been a quick dumping.

Nikra said...

Just because I really care about the McStays I want to correct you on a few things. They were not suffering financially, Joseph's business was doing very well and the money in the bank was due to his recent contracts for work, also that info about being evicted is something that does not prove anything other than they may have been behind but eventually paid because they were NOT evicted. The detectives found no sign of financial trouble at all. They were doing well business was good. His partners relied on him and when he went missing the business dried up and there was only one contract fulfilled with others that could NOT be and so it was in peril. CM his partner did not benefit from Joeys disappearance he actually lost a lot. As for Summer she was a free spirit and also came from a rocky childhood, her name change reflects a lot of things in her childhood she wanted to forget, nothing sinister as of yet has been discovered about her. Costa Rica was a place both Joseph and Chase loved and Joseph and Chase talked about land there - I think CM always had land there do he hasn't FLED. That I know of. I think it is best to wait and see. I honestly don't think his partners had anything to gain. Unless there was a pending deal on the table that went wrong. I can't see them being involved.

Nikra said...

I wonder too, although they were found 6 to 8 feet apart not 20. I think of when these were dug because the site could be seen from the road, in daylight a car parked out there could be seen, a car and someone digging even more visible, but then at night it is pitch darkness so I am guessing he did this at night and walked the 6 feet to give himself room in the dark as to not fall in the first hole, he would need a light source though, a car would not be wise. It took four days from the last sighting of the mcstays to when their car was parked, I am thinking this person worked alone and it took four days to complete this difficult task, pre digging and then putting the bodies in. I believe the graves were pre dug and then bodies brought there. The bonsall bridge area I believe is where they were killed which is where Joseph's last phone ping hit.

Anonymous said...

What do you think about the craigslist ad that was posted well before the family was found in the desert? I am so disturbed by it and truly believe the ones who posted it are involved and were maybe trying to flush someone out and see if they were a snitch or something. I can't think of anyone else that would post info about the family vehicle being in the EXACT area where their bodies would later be found! I don't know but I have followed this case very close and out of all the details its definitely one of the most disturbing. Here is a link of it on Joseph's Dads FB