Detectives Scrutinize Video Possibly Showing Missing Family Crossing Into Mexico
A surveillance camera captured footage of a man, woman and two children resembling a missing Fallbrook family as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Tijuana on foot last month, around the time they dropped out of contact with family, friends and business associates, a sheriff's investigator said today.
The video images were shot at the San Ysidro Port of Entry about 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 -- four days after the disappearance of Joseph McStay, 40, his wife, Summer, 43, and their sons, Gianni, 4, and 3-year-old Joseph Jr., homicide Sgt. Roy Frank said.
The people on the surveillance tape seemed to be casually strolling into Mexico, with each adult holding hands with one of the toddlers, according to Frank. There was no signs that the four, who match the general descriptions of the McStays, were distressed in any way or leaving the United States against their will, he said.
Roughly four hours after the footage was recorded, security personnel towed an apparently abandoned vehicle from a commercial parking lot on Camino de la Plaza, about a five-minute walk from the border. The white 1996 Isuzu Trooper turned out to belong to the McStays.
On Feb. 15, deputies conducting a welfare check at the McStays' Avocado Vista Lane home at the request of a concerned relative found their two dogs in the back yard and no signs of a struggle.
Detectives have uncovered no evidence that the family fled financial problems, threats of violence or the consequences of some sort of criminal behavior, Frank said.
There have been no known sightings of the family or contacts with them since they went missing, the sergeant said.
Authorities have described the family's disappearance as baffling and "out of character."
"It's a mystery right now," Frank said this afternoon.
The family is white, and all four have brown hair and brown eyes, according to sheriff's officials.
Joseph McStay, the owner of a company that installs indoor fountains, is 5 feet 9 inches tall and about 175 pounds, with tattoos on his shoulders. His wife is 5-foot-5 and 115 pounds; Gianni is about 3 feet tall and 40 pounds; and Joseph Jr. is 2 feet 6 inches tall and weighs roughly 35 pounds.
Relatives have created a Web site -- www.McStayFamily.com -- to keep the case before the public, and San Diego County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.
Anyone with information on the McStays' whereabouts was asked to call the Sheriff's Department at (858) 974-2321.