Business affiliate arrested for murdering McStay family of four of Fallbrook



Joseph McStay’s business affiliate, Charles “Chase” Merritt, 57, ‘has been arrested by authorities and will be charged with murdering the Fallbrook family of four that mysteriously disappeared in February 2010.

At a press conference held this morning, Friday, November 7, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Homicide Detail announced that they arrested Merritt, a resident of Homeland, on Wed., Nov. 5 for the murders of Joseph McStay, 40, Summer McStay, 43, and their two children, Gianni McStay, 4, and Joseph (Joey) M. McStay, 3.

The case, which appeared to baffle San Diego County authorities, was transferred to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s agency almost exactly one year ago when the remains of the family members were discovered Nov. 13, 2013 by an off-road motorcyclist in a desert area between Quarry Road and Interstate 15, in San Bernardino County.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept., “Over the past 12 months, investigators have conducted an extensive investigation which included the service of 60 search warrants and over 200 interviews.”

“Investigators received about 250 tips and followed up on every one; including emails, Crime Stoppers, We-Tip, America’s Most Wanted, National Center for Missing/Exploited Children and anonymous telephone calls.”

The agency reported that their homicide investigators worked with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office and Special Agent Kevin Boles with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Merritt was arrested without incident and transported to the West Valley Detention Center,” authorities said. “He was booked for murder and is being held without bail. The District Attorney’s Office filed four counts of murder against Merritt.”

Merritt is reportedly being arraigned today (Nov. 7) in Victorville Superior Court. It is likely he will also be charged with special circumstances for multiple murders, which could make him eligible for the death penalty.

The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office determined the cause of death of the McStay family members was blunt force trauma.

While San Diego County authorities reported earlier in the investigation that there was no evidence of crime at the McStay home, San Bernardino authorities have a different opinion.

“Based on the entire investigation and the evidence obtained, investigators believe the murders occurred at the family home in Fallbrook,” they stated.

At this time, because the investigation is continuing, authorities are not disclosing the motive for the murders.

Anyone with information they wish to share should contact Homicide Detective Eddie Bachman or Sgt. Chris Fisher at (909)387-3589. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or you may leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at

41 Responses to "Business affiliate arrested for murdering McStay family of four of Fallbrook"

  1. Me   November 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    At least San Bernardo Sheriffs know what they’re doing.

  2. grunt   November 7, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Wow, Me, you hate everything about San Diego, huh? Marines, Fire department, cops. Maybe SB was successful because it was in there area that all the evidence was found?

  3. emg   November 7, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    congratulations to sgt. chris fisher and his team for all their hard work in the mcstay case that finally brings about the arrest of chase merritt. again, sgt. fisher, thank you for doing your job!!

  4. Just wondering   November 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I am definately not a detective,but it seems as tho if 4 persons were killed with blunt force,there would be blood. How in the world did the local sheriffs not find this? I’m saddened,sick and disgusted . rest in peace dear Mc Stay family. Justice will be served.

  5. dune   November 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    What the heck San Diego county sheriffs? What is this a police force full of Barney Fifes?

  6. ELD   November 7, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Even if blood was cleaned up, it would still be noticeable with special lab equipment. Didn’t the neighbors’ cameras notice anyone entering or leaving the house on foot? Or did the cameras catch who left the house? How were four bodies loaded into a car without anyone noticing if the garage was filled with personal possessions of the family? We weren’t told all of the evidence that was out there. I always wondered if there was money hidden in the house and was stolen by the perpetrator. Also, I believe Chase hated Summer and maybe she told him the cash cow is through giving free milk and he got irate and went off on the family. He should be sued of all his worldly possessions in a civil case…after the criminal case. By the way, he did fail the lie detector!

  7. ELD   November 7, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    With the rise in crime lately, the police are going to be darn good in solving these cases because they’ll have plenty of practice. The naivety of every small community is no more. Welcome to the big leagues, small time sheriff’s dep’ts. around the country. But kudos for solving this horrendous case. If Chase were innocent, you would have seen him yelling "I didn’t do this…". Yet, he is skulking away with his head held down and his tail between his legs.

  8. Fmr Fallbrook   November 7, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I don’t believe he did all of this by himself. Look at the logistics. Four bodies, moving them to the high desert to be buried, taking their car and parking it at the border. Seems like a lot of work for one guy.

  9. JD   November 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    This should not be an indictment of the local sheriffs to solve the crime, but rather a celebration that the killer is likely found and now arrested. I agree with "Just Wondering" that it seems there would be some evidence of blood etc. at the Fallbrook home, but no where in the aricle does it state that there wasn’t. The blood would be that of the victims, right? How does that lead to the killer? The article does state that once bodies were found, the case was transferred. Wow, stop hating on the local Barney’s. Anyhow, this guy isn’t gunna see the outside of a prison for a long time, and I’m glad for that!

  10. Truth   November 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Wait the accused is white? No way. I guess this story will only have a few comments.

  11. itsabouttime   November 7, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    this is probably just the beginning. I feel family members have some explaining to do. Cleaning the crime scene tromping thru it for days AND taking money
    once the DP is on the table for four people ill bet we find out more are involved in many other ways.

  12. itsabouttime   November 7, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Just THRILLED something has been done! What a great anniversary date reveal!

  13. Agreed   November 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I agree with Just Wondering, where is the blood? There would have had to have been a tremendous amount of it if four people were killed with blunt force trauma, right? Another question, is why would Merrit kill them in Fallbrook and then transport them so close to where he lives? It doesn’t make sense

  14. Justwondering   November 7, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    My comment about blood being present only meant that at no time during the years spent looking for this family was it told to the public the suspicion of this family being assaulted..killed in their own home.perhaps..and only perhaps..had this information been made public,the neighbors who knew nothing might have remembered seeing..hearing..something.knowing a crime..killing occurred next door to me would sharpen my senses.Riverside Sheriffs get the credit..the family gets some peace in knowing that hopefully the person responsible will be held accountable. My next question is why if this happened Nov 5 is the news just now reporting it?

    VN staff: The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Homicide Detail did not release the information to the media until today – at the press conference.

  15. CB   November 7, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I’m so glad that an arrest has finally been made on this case.
    I remember how heart breaking it was to learn of the discovery of their bodies last year.
    I guess at this point and with everything one reads online and in the paper, this shouldn’t be so shocking. But I can’t fathom how he could have killed the little boys.

  16. Incompetence of San Diego County Sheriff   November 7, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    "While San Diego County authorities reported earlier in the investigation that there was no evidence of crime at the McStay home, San Bernardino authorities have a different opinion. "

  17. Me   November 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm many homicides have you ever investigated?

    Thought so.

  18. Justwondering   November 8, 2014 at 8:39 am

    And I mean this with respect..maybe SDSO can ask the San Bernardino Sheriff for assist with the two new cold cases the VN has written about. Murder itself is horrific..add the two innocent little boys to the situation and if found guilty,there should be no question as to deaths penalty.there will be more disgusting things surfacing,I’m afraid.

  19. Fed Up   November 8, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I would imagine that the SB Sheriff’s Office is feeling proud…
    I would imagine that the SD Sheriff’s Office is feeling ridiculed…
    I would prefer to wait and see how it all plays out before dumping on the SD Sheriff’s Office…

  20. ZZZ   November 8, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I don’t want my tax dollars spent on trials, appeals and years of a death row prisoner that takes lives of innocent people. Send him to the desert and leave him in a cage with his conspirators. How could greed be so powerful to kill innocent children.

  21. Pink   November 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    He probably killed the parents in anger then had to kill the poor innocent little boys because they were old enough to identify him. Blunt force trauma could be done without much blood, had there been lots of blood it would have been detected by that special light the police use in the dark. If there were a lot of blood even the SDSO would have had to conclude that there was enough evidence for foul play. However it turns out I sincerely hope they sentence this monster to death, although we all know that none of us will live long enough to see it happen.

  22. Fed Up   November 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I agree, I do have a truck, think I can find a cage, let’s go pick him up……

  23. Mom of lots   November 8, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    at first look, I thought greed was the motivation. However, once you delve deeper into it….if this family was killed by blunt force trauma, it sounds liKe a crime of passion. He was angry. Someone mentioned in the comments Summer hated him? Was she done with her husband having him work with him? Did she see he was not someone to trust and bring this up to her husband? Did this upset Merrit? Was he about to be cut from the business? Joseph had 100 grand cash in the bank and that was left untouched. Surely Merrit could have accessed that. I am thinking this was more a crime of passion and that he took the lives of the boys because he didn’t want to leave behind any witnesses. Those boys knew him. How anyone could murder 2 innocent little children is something I cannot wrap my mind around. At all.

  24. Dewbert   November 9, 2014 at 2:18 am

    It was a no-brainer. I saw a CNN special and it was VERY clear that either Merritt, their webmaster, or McStay’s brother were guilty. Even the mother was acting suspicious by cleaning up the crime scene before the police decided to show saunter in way long after the crime. How could the San Diego Sheriffs not narrow it down? They botched the case. They allowed evidence tampering and assumed that 4 blurry people on video entering Mexico was the McStays and didn’t bother doing any sort of real investigation whatsoever.

  25. @Mom of lots   November 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Hey Mom of lots, if Joseph had $100 grand in the bank, how do you figure Merrit could have easily accessed it? Last I checked you cant just walk into a bank and take money of out of a bank account that isn’t yours. Can you explain what you mean?

  26. emg   November 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    maybe chase will spill the beans on what friends and relatives were doing that was shady.

  27. grumpy   November 10, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    unless they have some hard evidence my gut tells me it’s not adding up and SBCS is barking up the wrong tree…i suspect the family knows more than it’s telling and Chase is being made the fall guy…

  28. Mom of lots   November 10, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    @Mom of lots: um, criminals find all sorts of ways to access cash from their victim’s lot. Some of which include using an ATM card, credit card, forging checks, etc. It’s not that hard. He was angry with the McStays. He wasn’t after their money, although money would have been nice, but it was not his motive.

  29. S   November 11, 2014 at 5:53 am

    I think mom of lots needs to stay in her bubble-cloister in Michigan.

  30. Pink   November 11, 2014 at 10:48 am

    It is just my opinion of course, but I think he probably killed the parents in the heat of the moment and then had to kill the kids to keep them quiet. He would more than likely have loved to access their bank account but was smart enough to realize it would be traced straight back to him. Mom of lots is correct S, he could have found a way to do it but he couldn’t figure anyway to take their money and not get caught.

  31. emg   November 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    i don’t think this was planned. i think it was heat of the moment. chase went there to see joey and summer with her temper said something that reflected negatively on chase, his manners or his character, he lashed out at her. she is the only one he ever spoke negatively about. the other 3 were to cover up.

  32. grunt   November 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Me, actually two. Both overseas.

  33. Fed up with fed up   November 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Hey Fed up, then go do it. Get your truck and go pick him up and kick his butt! Yeah, not that easy is it, just a bunch of "well I oughta" talk.

  34. @mom of lots   November 11, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    But my questions is how would he cover his tracks and not get caught? All signs would point to him if he did that because all of those moves are traceable. So my point is, just because he didn’t foolishly try to access McStay’s bank account doesn’t mean the murder wasn’t motivated by money. But, your guess is almost as good as any.

  35. Fed Up   November 11, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    @ Fed Up with Fed up….yes, it is just talk…said in annoyance with the system. But, I will say that if no one else wants to do, I would not hesitate to be the one to pull the trigger on him if the death penalty were to be really carried out and it were by firing squad. Would not bother me at all and I would be glad that wastes of skin such as this were cleared out of the way to harm no one else….rabid animal, that’s all.

  36. Mom of lots   November 11, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    @mom of lots: true, he was not dumb enough to access their bank accounts. What it comes down to is blunt force trauma= anger and spur of the moment….not a whole lot of planning.
    S: lol, I’ve been enjoying this little bubble here in MI, although I’m not very excited about the impending winter. Turns out no matter where you live, there’s pros and cons for sure. 🙂

  37. so sad   November 14, 2014 at 1:15 am

    My heart goes out to the McStay family. This absolutely broke my heart. That poor family didn’t deserve this. Those poor little baby boys. Chase Merritt is a monster. I hope the cops use luminol to see if there was blood spatter inside the McStay home. And why didn’t any neighbors hear the attacks? This is such a tragedy. Rest in peace..

  38. The Dude   November 18, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Having lived on the same street three years prior to the McStay’s family’s murder, during the daytime hours this place is VACATED. However, had anyone been home at the time, the houses are so close together we could hear the kid NEXT DOOR wake up in the middle of the night. It seems strange that four people could suffer what is being reported and no one heard it at all. Bedroom communities. Good fences make ZERO witnesses?

  39. MissKittyintheknow...   November 19, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Watch…”exclusive footage inside MsStay family home”…Go to You tube and 1 & 2…
    There was definitely more than a couple of people involved…maybe several or more. I hope CM tells ALL…and he will.

  40. DR DR   November 20, 2014 at 9:53 am

    My opinion is that he covered their mouths with chemicals so they’d go to sleep, tied them up, put them in their car and when they started coming to, hit them in their heads, killing them. Therefore, they will find no blood in the house and no, I don’t believe he acted alone.

    Therefore, lethal injection slowly thru his vains so he can die a SLOOOOOW death.

  41. MMN   December 3, 2014 at 9:10 am

    I am wondering how many others this dirtbag might have "offed". You don’t just turn into a murderer of innocent little kids overnight. There has got to be a trail of missing people in this guys past.


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