SAN DIEGO (  —  Many details in the murder of the McStay family remain shrouded in mystery. But court documents obtained by CBS2 and KCAL9 after the stations challenged a judge’s order shed new light on the killings.

CBS2’s Tom Wait reported the search warrants from 2010 of the family’s San Diego area home show how investigators were hitting dead ends.

Police initially went to the McStay home after family members reported not hearing from them for 10 days. Once inside the house, officers reported this:

“The popcorn was slightly spilled … in the kitchen there was a carton of raw eggs and a bag of microwave popcorn on the counter.”

“There was a tall lamp that was lying on the floor…there were several suitcases in the open position with folded clothing inside… there was a large quantity of clothing tossed on the center of the floor in the closet”

Apparently the initial search wasn’t without problems, because in one filing an investigator says a deputy:

“Apologized as he told me he inadvertently forgot to check the garage area of the residence during his welfare check”

While there were no obvious signs of foul play, deputies knew something terrible happened. There was no sign of forced entry and the family’s two dogs were left in the backyard.

“It is my opinion the McStay family is the victim of foul play. In my opinion, a family does not just up and leave under the circumstances detailed above,” the warrant said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Joseph and Summer McStay’s skeletal remains were found in the high desert, along with the remains of their two young children, in November 2013.

Almost exactly a year later McStay’s former business partner, Charles Merritt was arrested for the murders.

Authorities have not said what evidence led them to Merritt.

KCAL9’s Laurie Perez said investigators followed many leads and theories — that the family fled to Mexico for some unknown reason being chief among them.

But almost from day one, Detective Troy DuGal wrote, “I believe some or all of the McStay family has been kidnapped or killed.”

Friday evening, McStay’s mother told Perez that she’s always considered the San Bernardino deputies in their corner.


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