Joseph McStay And His Family of Four Vanish Into Thin Air!

Three short comments neatly characterize the missing case of a San Diego area family, Joseph McStay, 40, his wife, Summer, (32, 37 or 43?), and their two young children, Gianna, 4, and Joseph, 3. A San Diego Sheriff’s Office spokesman, Lt. Dennis Brugos, said recently: “It’s an absolute mystery,” and “At this point there is nothing that jumps out.” Family members have said, “Quite out of character.”

A few important facts for you. The family was last heard from on Feb. 4 by a friend, Diane Cignani. The brother, Michael McStay, after unsuccessful attempts to contact his brother, necessitated the breaking out of a window at their home and found no one around. This was last Monday, Feb. 15th, President’s Day, you might recall. The family’s two dogs were left unattended to.

The McStay’s had not mentioned to anyone that they were going on vacation? And obviously, they would never leave their dogs unattended for with no food and water. It was Michael McStay who reported his brother and other family members as missing. After searching the home, deputies called the homicide division. This is necessary when a missing persons’ case suggests unusual circumstances.

One thing about these strange circumstances jumps out at me. Why did it take 11 days before the McStays were discovered missing? The last known contact with them was on Feb. 4th. A confirmation of their disappearance wasn’t forthcoming until Feb. 15th. That’s an 11 day window when nothing was known.

I find that a little odd? Don’t you? Yes, most of Joseph McStay’s business was done on the internet. But all of those calls (his voice mail box was full) were coming in to his San Clemente, Ca. business, and no one tried to find him earlier (right after the 4th)?

The most puzzling fact is that the McStays’ car was found two blocks from the Mexican border. The vehicle is a white 1996 Isuzu Trooper and had been towed on Feb. 8th from a parking lot in San Ysidro. Later on authorities put together that the Isuzu Trooper belonged to the missing family. I wonder whether this parking lot is a standard one used for tourist parking when ever they make a day trip over the border?

The first thing that comes to mind is most obvious. Was it drug related or was it a kidnapping, such as we frequently hear of down in Mexico? By all reports that I’ve read, these were very legitimate, clean-cut people. Joseph McStay created and ran a very successful business. It’s name is Earth Inspired Products, and is known for its designs of interior fountains. Joseph has a corner on this market and ships worldwide.

The father, Patrick McStay, and the brother, Michael, have both indicated that Joseph had done business in Tijuana just this last December. The father told ABC News: “Some of the smaller fountains he offers are manufactured in Mexico, so he calls down there and has them sent to him.”

Patrick also stated that his son had picked up granite countertops for his home kitchen late last year. (ABC News-San Diego Family of Four Vanishes, Missing for Two Weeks by Emily Friedman-Feb. 19, 2010)

Authorities are covering all their bases. A thorough search of the $300,000 Fallbrook (a suburb of San Diego) house is being conducted. Officials are looking for pertinent evidence that could come in the way of phone records, diaries, documents and/or relevant computer files. It must be noted here that the McStays had only recently moved to this neighborhood.

The family had just moved to Fallbrook in November of 2009. They were from San Clemente, Ca., which is in Orange County. Joseph had started his business, Earth Inspired Products here in 1996. In fact, the business is still located in San Clemente. Joseph enjoyed surfing and lived just a few blocks from the beach. Why did they move, if they were so happy in San Clemente?

The only explanation I have seen was given by The Orange County Register. The family wanted a four-bedroom house in a cul-de-sac with a yard. Perhaps it was needed for a growing family and a need for more space for their pets to run. This makes sense. Also, it’s been suggested that larger homes are more pricey in Orange County.

Both Joseph and Summer have their real estate licenses. A friend of the family, Diane Cirignani, owns the Vernazza Realty in Rancho Santa Margarita, and Summer was working there. It was so soon since the family had moved there, that they were still living out of boxes. Summer had just bought real estate stationery and was going to sell houses in the San Diego area. (The Orange County Register-Police search for missing San Clemente business owner and family by Brittany Levine-Feb. 19, 2010)

Naturally, authorities are working with their Mexican counterparts for clues to what happened. In the past communications between them haven’t yielded particularly positive results. This would have to include the viewing of surveillance video at the border crossing. Lt. Dennis Brugos states the befuddlement this way:

“We’ve been strategizing to figure out where they might be. We’re working with border control to find out whether there is activity on their passports, and whether there is any activity on their passports, and whether they had any connection to narcotics or gangs, but it doesn’t seem as though they do.” (ABC News-ditto)

I’m no private investigator, but a few telling questions come to mind. If Mr. McStay was going to conduct business in Mexico, then why take his wife and children along for the ride? Unless it was a pleasure/business trip? But this does not seem likely in light of the widely known dangers of Mexico. Tijuana is obviously unsafe. This scenario seems unlikely to me, even with the little data I have of Joseph’s character.

The kidnapping scenario is a better theory, I sense. Kidnappings are frequent in Mexico and I’ve even seen this spilling over to the states, especially near the border. This theory was suggested as a comment on the Fallbrook/Bonsall Village News. As such, the question arises as to whether the family may have been abducted at their home or whether they drove to the border on their own volition. It would be at this point that something goes afoul down on the border? I favor this theory of events.

Most baffling? Clearly, this is a very nice looking neighborhood. Neighbors are very surprised by this too, the new family goes missing, I mean. This is still a very new story, but from what I’ve read these seem like very nice people. And if criminals kidnapped them in Mexico, what ransom will they ever get paid? None. That makes no sense either?

There is something else going on here. I suspect the issue here may be closer to home, not in Mexico? I believe that if Joseph was going to conduct business in Mexico, he would have gone it alone. He would have told others as well. I call your attention again to the gap of time between the last noted spotting of these people and when they were reported missing. Once again, it’s 11 days, Feb. 4th-Feb.15. This window is wide open!

The Joseph McStay web site for Earth Inspired Products: