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DNA Tests Confirm Remains Found In Desert Are Missing McStay Boys

Clockwise from top left, Joseph McStay, Summer McStay, Joseph Mateo McStay and Gianni McStay.
Photos via
Clockwise from top left, Joseph McStay, Summer McStay, Joseph Mateo McStay and Gianni McStay.

Two sets of juvenile remains found in the Mojave Desert near Victorville last week are those of two young Fallbrook boys who vanished along with their parents nearly four years ago, authorities confirmed today.

DNA testing determined that the skeletons, found by a motorcyclist riding in an open area west of Interstate 15 on Veterans Day, were those of Joseph McStay Jr. and his older brother, Gianni, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Two other sets of remains discovered in the same spot were earlier determined to be those of the boys' parents, Joseph and Summer McStay, who were identified via dental records.


Detectives have concluded that the family, whose bodies were buried in shallow graves, were victims of homicide, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters last Friday. McMahon declined to disclose how the McStays might have been killed and said no suspects had been identified.

The last known confirmed sighting of the family was on Feb. 4, 2010. The then-40-year-old husband, who owned a decorative-fountain company, his 43-year-old wife and their sons, ages 4 and 3, appeared to have left their northern San Diego County home in a hurry, according to investigators.

Deputies found their two dogs at the house, and nothing inside suggested the couple and their children had gone on a vacation or other routine trip. A carton of eggs was left on a kitchen counter, according to sheriff's officials.

A few days earlier, the McStays' white Isuzu Trooper had turned up near the U.S.-Mexico line in San Ysidro with one of the boys' asthma medicine inside it.

Among few possible pieces of evidence in the case was a blurry Feb. 8, 2010, video showing four people closely resembling the family walking across the international border into Baja California.

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