VICTORVILLE ( — With the announcement Friday that skeletal remains found near Victorville belong to Joseph and  Summer McStay and that other remains are likely those of their two young children, authorities are asking several important questions.

The most basic question, of course, is who killed them?

But that query begs the follow-up and obvious question: Who could be responsible for such a heinous and depraved act? The murder of an entire family, including two children under the age of 5.

The family seemed to leave their upscale Fallbrook home in a hurry in February 2010.

They left their two dogs behind. There were two bowls of recently-popped pop corn in the living room. They left without even putting eggs back in the fridge. Investigators found the eggs rotting on the kitchen counter.

But none of that explains what happened to the family, nor does it remotely begin to answer — who could have been responsible?

CBS2’s Serene Branson spoke to a former FBI agent Friday night to try to determine who police should be looking at.

Patrick Conley investigated many violent crimes and international kidnap cases.  He believes the discovery of the remains may provide new clues.

“Where you have multiple homicides targeting family and children, you just don’t have that happen. Something is behind it,” Patrick Conley said.

“The crime scene will hopefully determine what caused their deaths, from there [investigators] can start trying to understand motivation behind it.”

The FBI took over the investigation this past May.

Conley believes detectives have to take a serious look at the McStay parents.

“For me, the most important step would be reestablish what happened with the husband and wife leading up to day they disappeared,” Conley said.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said it is investigating whether the McStays could have run afoul of a drug cartel. Their car was found near the border.

Conley isn’t quite so sure.

The case doesn’t have any “obvious markings,” he explained.

He did say that whoever committed the crime was trying to send a message.

If this case does involve a drug cartel, Conley also said it would be unusual to find the victims buried here.


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