VICTORVILLE (CBSLA.com) — Two of four sets of skeletal remains found in the desert outside Victorville earlier this week have been identified as the parents of a Fallbrook family that went missing nearly four years ago, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.
Dental records were used to positively identify the remains of Joseph, 40, and 43-year-old Summer McStay, which were found in a pair of shallow graves on Monday, Sheriff John McMahon confirmed. Their deaths have been deemed homicides, but the cause of death was not released to protect the investigation.
The other two sets of remains have been identified as those of children, officials said.
“We believe the other two sets of remains are that of the boys, their sons,” he said. “Their DNA evidence is on file with DOJ (Department of Justice). We will be sending that information to DOJ for positive confirmation.”
“It’s not the outcome we were looking for, but it gives us courage to know that they’re together and they’re in a better place,” Joseph’s brother, Michael McStay, said through tears.
Patrick McStay, Joseph’s father, first told CBS affiliate KFMB Thursday that the adult remains were that of his son and daughter-in-law.
The McStays and their two young sons, Joseph Mateo and Gianni, disappeared from their upscale San Diego County home in February 2010.
The two family dogs were left behind. People who knew the McStays said they were a loving, normal family. At the time, officials said the family even left popcorn — just popped — in two bowls in the living room. There were also rotten eggs found on the kitchen counter.
By all accounts, it looked as if the family made a hasty, unplanned retreat. There were no signs of a struggle or forced entry and no blood was found. The couple didn’t have financial problems and reportedly had more than $100,000 in the bank.
The mystery only deepened when investigators believed they uncovered video of what looked like the McStays crossing the border into Mexico, however, their identities were never confirmed.
Four days after the family was reported missing, their SUV was found parked at a shopping mall in San Diego, steps from the Mexican border.
The FBI officially took over the case in May, but the agency has directed all questions regarding the remains to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
The investigation into the remains began Monday when a motorcyclist discovered them in a shallow grave between Quarry Road near Highway 15 in the desert.
Authorities said it was unclear how long the remains had been buried.