Tuesday, July 1 2014, 05:51 PM CDT
McStay Family Mystery: Crime Scene
CALIFORNIA -- In February 2010, a young family of four building their American dream vanished from their home in suburban San Diego.
There were no signs of a struggle or any apparent plans to flee.
Then, nearly four years later and 100 miles from their home, Joseph McStay, his wife, Summer, and their two young sons were found dead, their remains buried in shallow graves in the Mojave Desert.
It took a long time for family members, like brother Michael McStay, to alert police that his brother and family were missing.
Monday, Feb. 15, 11 days after the family went missing, Michael called the sheriff's department, who came to the house to investigate. The department immediately alerted homicide.
Then investigators did something Patrick McStay finds unbelievable.
"They don't put any tape on it, any crime scene tape, any notices on the house, nothing. They just lock the house back up and they leave to get warrants," he said.
It took San Diego investigators three days to obtain the warrants they needed to complete a full search of the home. But during those three days, the McStay's home remained unsealed, which allowed Joseph's brother, mother and friend access in and out of the house.
"I wouldn't go in there un -- unless I called, you know, the sheriff's department. And they said I could. So, I had permission," the mother said. "I cleaned up the kitchen 'case it was disgusting and the trashcan -- from diapers sitting there all that time. You know, it was terrible, terrible smells, so."
"She was cleaning. We were looking for bank statements. I think she was just reaching for evidence," McGyver said.
"No, it was not deemed a crime scene because there was no sign of forced entry. There was no sign of foul play at the house," the brother said.
Michael says investigators gave them the okay to remove some items from the home.
"With their permission, I grabbed his computer, what would be Joey's computer, and I grabbed his SD card. I got the pictures off it. I got that downloaded, and then I had to put that back prior to them issuing the warrant," he continued.
Back in Texas, Patrick could hardly believe what was going on.
"The first thing I'm thinking, like you're going to destroy evidence," he said. "I was just stunned."
According to Watts, certain items that might have been really key to the big mystery of why they left that house are home.