Two months later, and no trace of family
By Leslie Berestein, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 6:06 p.m.
Nearly two months after a Fallbrook family of four vanished with scarcely a trace, authorities continue to pursue leads in Mexico, while some relatives are skeptical as to whether they ever crossed the border in the first place.
A grainy Border Patrol video taken the evening of Feb. 8 shows two adults and two small children crossing on foot into Mexico at San Ysidro, which investigators think could be missing businessman Joseph McStay, his wife and their two young sons. The video has been enhanced for resolution by San Diego County Sheriff’s Department investigators, but it has yielded no better identification on the foursome than the original.
“Some family members are more certain that it is them than others,” said Lt. Dennis Brugos of the sheriff’s homicide unit, which has been working with Mexican authorities in hopes of finding the McStays.
McStay, 40, his wife Summer, 43, and their two children Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3, were last heard from Feb. 4. Since then, there has been no activity on their cell phones, said Mike McStay, 37. He said his missing older brother, who ran a custom indoor fountain business, was a frequent cell phone user who was on track to rack up 7,000 minutes that month.
McStay, who lives in Orange County, said he isn’t convinced that the people in the video are the missing family.
“I have analyzed that thing hundreds of times, I don’t know,” McStay said of the video, which authorities are hoping to enhance further. “The best I can come up with is that the children are the appropriate age and the appropriate size. The quality of the video is just very, very poor.”
He said the last time his brother traveled to Mexico was in 2003, and that he is the only member of the family who holds a current passport; his wife’s passport is expired, McStay said. In addition, their youngest child’s birth certificate, required for minors to cross back into the United States, is with the child’s grandmother.
John Cirignani, who with his wife is a longtime friend of Summer McStay’s from Orange County, said in a recent interview that said she had expressed unease with the idea of traveling to Mexico even as a possible vacation destination, saying she had concerns about safety.
Since the family disappeared, local investigators have teamed with Baja California state police, which have made inquiries about the family at airports, bus stations, hotels, shopping centers, hospitals, even the Tijuana morgue. Investigators checked with a family acquaintance in Los Cabos, who had not heard from them, according to Baja state police. In the United States, investigators from the state Department of Justice are also involved, Brugos said.
While there is still an investigation north of the border, “it seems as thought there is a high probability that they went south,” Brugos said, “We are going to look in that direction now.”
Mike McStay doesn’t think so, fearing something happened to the family in the four days between when they were last heard from and the night their SUV was found near the border — the same night the video shows the two adults and two children walking south.
“One of my biggest fears is could it be the kids, but that it could not be the adults,” said McStay, who worries that someone else may have driven the car to the border.
McStay, who has been working with a private investigation firm, said he and other family members remain stumped, and that as time goes by, are growing increasingly pessimistic. He said that a neighbor’s surveillance tape shows the family’s SUV leaving their home at 7:47 p.m. Feb. 4 and not returning that night. The family, which had recently moved in after relocating from San Clemente, appeared to have been painting the kitchen, he said, not planning a trip. Perishable food was left out, and their two dogs were left uncared for.
McStay said his brother had no reason to leave: His business had recently obtained some lucrative corporate contracts. After a bankruptcy several years ago, stemming from a lawsuit over a previous business the brothers shared, his brother had regained his financial footing and was and was excited about buying a new home. Joseph McStay also has an older son from a previous marriage that he was close to and would not abandon, his brother said.
“There is no crime scene at the house or in the car, but that does not mean there is not a crime scene,” Mike McStay said. “People don’t just fall off the face of the earth.”
Missing family's computer contains inquiries about Mexico
By Leslie Berestein, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER Originally published March 29, 2010
FALLBROOK — Sheriff’s investigators say a missing Fallbrook family’s computer records indicate they had been looking into passport rules for children traveling to Mexico shortly before they disappeared.
Homicide Lt. Dennis Brugos said yesterday that investigators found e-mails sent to unspecified recipients in late January that indicated Joseph and Summer McStay were asking about entry into Mexico.
The couple and their two small children were last seen Feb. 4. Their sport utility vehicle was found parked near the U.S.-Mexico border four days later.
“It appears they went into Mexico of their own volition,” said Brugos, who would not say to whom the e-mails were sent. “There is nothing to suggest any coercion or anything like that, at least that we have uncovered … this still isn’t a criminal investigation.”
Relatives say they are baffled by the McStays’ disappearance and are skeptical that the family is in Mexico. They said the couple had not given any indication that they were going anywhere.
Joseph McStay, 40, runs an indoor water fountain business.
“The whole thing does not make any sense to me at all,” said Joseph’s brother, Mike McStay, who lives in Orange County.
Friends and relatives have also said that Summer McStay, 43, expressed concerns about safety in Mexico in the past. Although her husband had traveled there, she wasn’t interested in going with the children, Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3.
The McStays’ home showed no signs of a planned trip: Perishable food had been left out in the kitchen, their two dogs were left uncared for and Summer McStay’s passport was expired. Investigators confirmed that Joseph McStay had a valid passport, though the children did not.
Sheriff’s investigators have been working with Baja California state police, which has followed up on tips and checked hotels, transportation centers, hospitals, the Tijuana morgue and other places without success.
The McStays’ white Isuzu Trooper was found in a parking lot in San Ysidro on Feb. 8, the same night a Border Patrol video recorded two adults and two small children walking toward the turnstile into Mexico. Investigators have not been able to enhance the video enough to identify the people.
Investigators have also viewed a video taken by a neighbor’s security camera Feb 4 that shows a vehicle backing out of the McStays’ driveway at 7:47 p.m. The tape ended about midnight, said Mike McStay, who has also seen it, and there is no sign of the car returning before then.
Brugos said that because of the angle, the tape does not show people getting into the car and it is also difficult to identify the vehicle.
New Clues Uncovered In Disappearance Of McStay Family
McStay Family Missing Nearly Two Months
POSTED: 8:48 pm PDT March 29, 2010
SAN DIEGO -- It's been nearly two months and a Fallbrook family's disappearance remains a mystery but new clues are emerging that suggest the McStays might have gone willingly.
Sheriff's deputies told 10News they just got the forensic results back from the McStay family computer and what they found leads them to believe their disappearance was very well planned.
"They were making inquiries concerning travel in Mexico and passports which would indicate there was some type of planning ahead that we weren't aware of before today," San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Dennis Brugos said Monday. Brugos says the McStays made that computer search on
Jan. 28, one week before the family was last seen. The new information falls in line with the theory investigators had when they found video taken at the border of two adults and two small children crossing into Mexico.
The video was shot on Feb. 8, the same day Joseph and Summer McStay's SUV was found abandoned just a few blocks from the border.
"We had been somewhat focused on the fact there's a high probablity they had entered Mexico on their own volition and this somewhat reinforces that," Brugos said.
With an entire team of sheriff's deputies, Mexican liasons, and the Center For Missing And Exploited Children devoted just to this case, the question now is: how many resources should they continue to lend?
Brugos said, "Law enforcement has put in a great deal of time and effort trying to locate them and if they could simply contact someone and let us know they're all right that would be a huge relief to a lot of people."
Updated April 02, 2010
FBI Joins Search for Missing Calif. Family
Sheriff's Lt. Dennis Brugos said investigators are focusing their search for the McStay family in Mexico, where the FBI has more resources.
FALLBROOK, Calif. -- The FBI will be briefed Friday on a San Diego County family that has been missing for almost two months.
Sheriff's Lt. Dennis Brugos said investigators are focusing their search for the McStay family in Mexico, where the FBI has more resources.
Businessman Joseph McStay, his wife, Summer, and their two young sons -- Gianni 4, Joseph Jr. 3 -- were last heard from Feb. 4.
Investigators said surveillance video may have captured images of the Fallbrook family crossing the border on foot. Their white Isuzu Trooper was found in a nearby parking lot.
Investigators also found e-mails indicating the couple had asked about passport requirements for traveling to Mexico with children shortly before they disappeared.
Relatives said it's uncharacteristic of the McStays to simply pick up and leave the country without telling family members.
Tracy Russell, Summer McStay's sister, said the idea that the family may have planned to go to Mexico has made her even more worried.
"I know I should feel a little bit better, but I don't," Russell said. "My mother is distraught. I don't think my sister would torture my mom like that."
She last spoke to her sister on the phone Feb. 4.
Mike McStay, Joseph's brother, said he set up a Web site to field tips about the family's whereabouts and has forwarded any promising information to investigators.
Neither Joseph nor Summer McStay is fluent in Spanish, relatives said.
Summer McStay's passport is expired. Their youngest son's birth certificate, required for re-entry to the United States by minors under 16, is with a grandmother, relatives said.
Detectives have no evidence that the family had financial problems or were facing threats.
The couple left their dogs at home and food rotting in their kitchen.
GRISLY DESERT FIND
Mystery as missing Calif. family's remains located
Four skeletons discovered this week in shallow graves in the Southern California desert are believed those of a missing San Diego County family, authorities said Friday, raising a host of new questions about what happened to the seemingly happy couple and their two young sons.
The McStay family — 40-year-old Joseph, his 43-year-old wife, Summer, and their sons Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3 — were apparent homicide victims, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said.
Two of the four sets of remains were identified as the parents' through dental records. Police are awaiting DNA testing on the two smaller sets of remains but believe they are the skeletons of the couple's boys, Fox5SanDiego reported.
The two graves, located about 50 yards off a dirt road, were 1- to 2-feet deep, and there were two bodies in each, McMahon said. Some of the bones had been dragged to the surface by animals, he added. He declined to say how the bodies were arranged in the graves.
Last edited by MADeline : 11-19-2013 at 08:25 PM.
Inside the Gruesome McStay Family Murder Case
By Howard Breuer
In October 2009, Joseph McStay excitedly e-mailed a friend about the house he and his wife had purchased in the San Diego suburb of Fallbrook, Calif. He boasted it had a "loft/game room & big yard for kids to go crazy," referring to their rambunctious preschoolers, Gianni and Joe Jr. "Love it."
So when the family seemingly disappeared four months later without telling any relatives, friends or business associates, and their car turned up four days later at the Mexican border, many people who knew them feared the worst.
"My fear is that I'm looking for two adult shallow graves and ... my two nephews' crosses," Joseph's kid brother, Michael, told the Orange County Register a few weeks after the Feb. 4, 2010, disappearance.
The mystery was largely treated as a missing-persons case until this month, after a motorcyclist riding through the desert above Victorville, Calif., came across a weathered skull and called police. Michael's worst fears were realized.
Two shallow graves contained the remains of Joseph, his wife Summer, 4-year-old son Gianni and 3-year-old son Joe Jr. Investigators say they have a lot of work ahead to find the killers, and no predictions as to who they are or why they would kill a whole family.
On Nov. 20, at a vigil where volunteers erected white crosses and released doves, Michael pondered aloud the same questions. "How did four people end up here in the middle of nowhere, over 100 miles from where they live?" he asked.
While no one has the answer, there are many leads, provided by people like Joseph's father, Patrick McStay, who has complained for years that the San Diego Sheriff's Department was not treating the case seriously, and Rick Baker, who traveled the world researching his book, No Goodbyes: The Mysterious Disappearance of the McStay Family.
“Investigators are questioning everybody," Michael McStay tells PEOPLE. "And they should be. We need to find the killer."
Father of Joseph McStay calls California investigation of missing family 'botched’ and ‘inept’
Patrick McStay, father of Joseph, says San Diego County probe of the family is the 'most botched, inept investigation I've ever seen in my life.' Their bodies were found in the Mojave Desert.
By Deborah Hastings / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, November 16, 2013
The investigation of the mysterious disappearance of California's McStay family was "dumb" and "botched," says a relative of the slain dad.
After more than three years, Patrick McStay finally learned Thursday that his son, his daughter-in-law, and most likely his two young grandchildren, are dead.
The news brought no peace, said the raging father and grandpa.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department didn't even tell him that bodies had been found just north of the Southern California desert town of Victorville, McStay told CBS News on Friday in a phone interview.
Instead, he learned about it on Facebook, he said. "I got a message from someone … telling me to go and read an article. The minute I read the article, I knew it was him," McStay said of his son.
The family vanished from their San Diego County home in February 2010, leaving food on the table and two dogs. Joseph, 40, his wife, Summer, 43, and their two young boys Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3, were never heard from again.
The family's SUV was found a few days later, parked near the Mexican border. Investigators initially thought the McStays walked into Mexico and encountered trouble, but they had no reliable witnesses or leads.
Patrick McStay blasted a lead detective in the case as "the biggest schm--k in the world."
A spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff's office said investigators worked tirelessly on the case and attributed McStay's criticisms to grief and anger.
He said he had complained to the department's internal affairs division about the investigation in 2011 and hadn't heard from detectives since then.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's office now heads the investigation, with assistance from San Diego and the FBI.
Sheriff John McMahon and coroner's officials announced Friday that dental records confirmed the parents' identities and that DNA testing was being done on the bodies of two young children found in nearby shallow graves.
The deaths are classified as homicides, he said.
McStay children remains positively ID’d
By Doug Saunders, The Sun
It’s been one week since sheriff’s officials announced the remains of the two adults were that of Joseph and Summer McStay. Their identities were confirmed through dental records, sheriff’s officials said.
The family disappeared in February 2010. Joseph was 40 and Summer was 43 when they went missing. Gianni was 4 and Joseph Jr. was 3.
An off-road motorcyclist discovered the human remains nearly two weeks ago outside Victorville.
DNA samples from the children’s skeletal remains were submitted to the Department of Justice and compared to samples of Joseph and Summer McStay to make an identification, officials said.
Sheriff’s officials close to the investigation confirmed at least one set of remains taken out of one of the two grave sites had been bound with an electric cord.
Clothing was also found in the graves.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon spoke about the case at a news conference last week.
“We’ll go where the investigation leads,” he said at the time.
The FBI and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department will remain involved in the investigation.
On Wednesday, friends and family of the McStay family placed memorial crosses and released doves in their honor at their grave sites.
Michael McStay, Joseph’s brother, said he was still shocked and still grieving, but was finding reasons for comfort.
“We’ve got tons of people coming out, just showering us with love,” he said.
Several Facebook pages have been set up to honor the missing family, including one called “Bring the McStay Family Home.”
“This tragedy has touched many of us very deeply as a community and a group of caring individuals. I know many of you would like to pay your respects,” an administrator of that page said in a written post.
McStay Family Murder Update: Joseph McStay’s Father Names Three Suspects, Motives
Joseph McStay’s father, now faced with the reality that his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren are deceased, has come up with three suspects in their disappearance and apparent murders.
"I have exhausted and have so much information on three possible persons of interest," Patrick McStay told CBS News. "All have a motive." Talking about on individual with a long rap sheet, which includes attempted murder, McStay said, "He has money, was in prison... He absolutely had a motive.”
“Somebody hired somebody. To kill a child is something totally different. You have to be a cold blooded killer,” he continued. "Only two things could have happened. Either there was a hired killer who killed them or the children could have recognized them - this person."
"I knew there was more to this,” McStay added. “I knew they didn't walk away.”
Business partner Chase Merritt says he was last known person to see Joseph McStay alive
Merritt claims he was considered suspect
SAN DIEGO - The man who was the last known person to see Joseph McStay alive claims he was considered a suspect by San Diego County sheriff's investigators after the McStay family's disappearance nearly four years ago.
Chase Merritt also said he expects to be scrutinized again now that the bodies of the family were found buried in the desert near Victorville.
Merritt broke his silence to the Daily Mail, telling the tabloid that he saw McStay the morning of February 4, 2010, and spoke to him on the phone at least twice afterward because the two business partners had just signed a lucrative international deal.
Merritt, who lives in Rancho Cucamonga, told the Daily Mail he regrets not answering the phone that night at 8:30 because he was in the middle of watching a movie with his girlfriend. He also regrets waiting several days before alerting family members and the authorities.
Merritt said he was questioned by sheriff's investigators, and he even volunteered to take a lie detector test, according to the Daily Mail.
10News contacted Patrick McStay, Joseph's father, who said, "In no way do I suspect Chase."
McStay said his son spoke highly of Merritt.
Merritt told the Daily Mail he considered Joseph McStay his best friend and said there was no way McStay would take his family to Mexico because of the dangerous atmosphere there. He also denied reports that McStay may have been involved in the drug world and that his death was the work of a cartel.
"I know for a fact he had nothing at all to do with anything illegal. He was honest as the day is long. I knew him as well as anybody, and Joseph had no enemies and no problems financially," Merritt was quoted as saying.
10News contacted the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department to see if they consider Merritt a suspect now that they are handling the investigation. A department representative said although investigators do plan to re-interview some people, they would not say whom nor would they reveal the names of any suspects.
Patrick McStay said he has given the names of three suspects with criminal histories to investigators and hopes they follow up.
"These guys, San Bernardino's, got a tough job ahead of them," said McStay. "I've been screaming for four years. All I want is a new investigation, a complete, thorough, competent investigation, take it out of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Give me a new investigation. That's what I've been saying, well, unfortunately, under these circumstances I've got that, so let's let them do their job, let's see what they come up with. If they screw it up, I'll be out there screaming just like I was over in San Diego."
McStay murder mystery: Who is Dan Kavanaugh?
Updated: Dec 24, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- Joseph McStay, 40, his wife Summer McStay, 43, and their two sons, Gianni, 5, and Joey, Jr., 4, went missing from their Fallbrook home in February 2010.
It would be almost four years before the skeletal remains of the family were discovered in shallow graves near Victorville on November 11.
Within a week of the family's disappearance in 2010, large sums of money started being transferred out of Joseph McStay's business bank account.
Where was the money going? Who was transferring it and why?
CBS News 8 caught up with the employee who admitted to his involvement in some of those transactions.
At first, Dan Kavanaugh, 32, was reluctant to talk about his former employer, Joseph McStay, when a CBS News 8 camera crew came knocking at his apartment door in Little Italy.
"No news questions right now bud, sorry, can't do it," said Kavanaugh.
A web designer by trade, Kavanaugh had been in charge of developing the online presence for Earth Inspired Products, Joseph McStay's custom fountain design and manufacturing business.
Eventually, Kavanaugh opened up to CBS News 8, denying that he had anything to do with the family's disappearance or murder.
Kavanaugh said he was in Oahu, Hawaii on a surfing trip at the time the family went missing.
"I was in Hawaii. You guys know that, right?" said Kavanaugh as he stood in the threshold of his apartment.
In a subsequent telephone interview, Kavanaugh looked up his online itinerary from the surfing vacation, and claimed he was in Oahu from Jan. 4, 2010 to Feb. 17, 2010, when he returned to San Diego.
"I have a hundred witnesses that saw me there (in Oahu) and can attest that I was there the whole time," said Kavanaugh.
Emails sent to Joseph McStay – and later retrieved by family members – confirmed Kavanaugh received thousands of dollars from the Earth Inspired Products business account after the McStays went missing.
"So, there are some curious withdrawals for business expenses and things around the time of the disappearance; but when you look further, the guy was 2,500 miles away. He has an alibi. And I had no resources to get anything like that done or motive," explained Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh said the transferred money was used to keep the fountain business going during Joseph McStay's unexplained absence.
He said he was working with Joseph's brother, Michael McStay, and Joseph's mother, Susan Blake, at the time the withdrawals were made.
"I actually transferred it (the money) to myself with Mike's knowledge," he said. "None of that money went to me. That money went to vendors, welders and manufacturers."
"Mike and I and his mom tried to salvage and run the business that we had built for a long time," Kavanaugh said.
But without Joseph McStay at the helm, the business would eventually fold.
In July 2011, Kavanaugh ended up selling McStay's business, Earth Inspired Products, to two individuals named Matthew Schneider and Joaquin Quintero, according to court records.
The sale of Earth Inspired Products and the subsequent creation of a corporation called Water Feature Supply, Inc. resulted in a lawsuit being filed in February 2012 in San Diego Superior Court (case # 37.2012-00092477).
The lawsuit detailed ownership disputes between the plaintiffs, Schneider and Quintero, and another party named Patrick Maloy.
The lawsuit was dismissed in May of 2012 and Maloy retained ownership of the Water Feature Supply domain and business.
Joseph McStay's original web site domain name associated with Earth Inspired Products currently directs users back to McStayFamily.org.
Joseph McStay's father, Patrick McStay, told CBS News 8 that Kavanaugh had no right to sell the business to Schneider and Quintero.
"So, are you going to tell me that Kavanaugh was running the company? He had no authority to run anything. He was a nobody. He was a web guy. He took care of the web and that's it," said Patrick McStay. "I think he wanted to gain access to the business and sell it."
Kavanaugh saw his role in Earth Inspired Products differently.
"I didn't just do the web site," he said. "I created all of the traffic to the site. Joe did very little. He just answered the phone. I built the entire business."
Court records show Kavanaugh had trouble with the law in the years after the McStays disappeared.
Kavanaugh pleaded guilty in San Diego Superior Court in two, separate domestic violence cases involving altercations with girlfriends, records show.
In August 2011, Kavanaugh was charged with five misdemeanor counts (in case # M134711DV).
According to a 2013 probation report obtained by CBS News 8:
In July 2013, Kavanaugh was charged with felony domestic violence (in case # SCD249328).
Probation officers filed a sentencing report that described the incident, which occurred July 5, 2013 at 12:30 a.m.:
He also told arresting officers that the victim "had taken ecstasy" and that she was having "a bad trip," according to the probation report.
Kavanaugh pleaded guilty in October 2013, in a plea bargain, to felony false imprisonment and was placed on formal probation.
Defense attorney Isaac Blumberg of San Diego submitted a statement of mitigation to the judge in the case, which included several letters of support from Kavanaugh's business associates, friends, mother and brother.
"Daniel hasn't got a mean bone in his body," his mother, Tamara Lyn Terry, wrote in her statement to the judge.
"I have four sons I raised myself… Daniel, the eldest son of mine is and always has been a kind and loving big brother. Kind to me, an overwhelmed single mother, he helped enormously, being supportive, and even helping financially. I need Daniel. Our FAMILY needs Daniel. I swear, on my honor, Daniel is worthy of your consideration and mercy," his mother wrote.
"I have known Daniel Kavanaugh to be a hardworking, honest and highly intelligent individual," restaurant owner Peter Busalacci wrote the judge.
"The quality of his work has been exceptional and his personality is always pleasant. These (restaurant) web sites have been improved considerably by his services," wrote Busalacci.
Kavanaugh remains on active probation and continues to attend court-ordered, domestic violence classes. He has not been named as a suspect by law enforcement in the McStay murders.
"As far as you asking me if I'm a violent person, the answer is a resounding no. Definitely not," Kavanaugh told CBS News 8.
McStay murder mystery: Who is Vick Johansen?
Dec 19, 2013
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (CBS 8) -- Before Joseph and Summer McStay and their two sons, Gianni and Joey, Jr., went missing from their Fallbrook home in February of 2010, the family lived in the beach community of San Clemente.
The remains of the family of four were discovered buried in the desert near Victorville last month. No one has been arrested and no suspects have been named.
Summer Martelli met Joseph McStay in 2004, when she lived with her boyfriend in the Southern California mountain community of Big Bear Lake.
The boyfriend, an ex-marine named Vick Wyatt Johansen, had purchased the Big Bear home – located at 796 Conklin Road – in 2002 for $226,000, property records show.
Email records obtained by McStay family members indicate that Summer met Joseph McStay and became pregnant with their first son, Gianni, while she was living in Big Bear in 2004.
Johansen added Summer's name to property records associated with the Big Bear Lake home in January 2005. He quit claimed the home to Summer Martelli one year later in January 2006.
Court records reveal Johansen made criminal threats against a neighbor and her 12-year-old daughter in 2004, while Johansen was living in Big Bear with Summer Martelli.
The neighbor, who requested that she not be identified, wrote a description of the 2004 incident in a restraining order declaration obtained by CBS News 8:
Johansen, at the time age 27, pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge on May 5, 2004 and received probation.
The judge ordered Johansen to attend a 24-week anger management program and served him with the restraining order to keep him away from his neighbor and her children. He was given credit for six days already served in jail.
On June 29, 2004, a judge issued a bench warrant for Johansen's arrest when he failed to enroll in the anger management program, according to court minute orders obtained by CBS News 8. Probation was reinstated on Aug. 12, 2004.
Another bench warrant was issued on Sept. 30, 2004 when Johansen failed to appear in court. Probation was reinstated again on Nov. 30, 2004.
Johansen completed the anger management program on Dec. 15, 2004, according to a report filed with the court.
Over the years, Johansen kept in contact with Summer McStay, even after her marriage to Joseph McStay and the births of their sons, Gianni and Joey, Jr., according to family email records.
"He also swore up and down that she was his soul mate and that she was going to bear his children; and no on else was going to bear his children," said Patrick McStay, Joseph McStay's father.
Johansen wrote this email to Summer in September 2005:
"Well, he's got a violent background," said Patrick McStay, referring to Johansen's criminal threat conviction.
"If I'm a cop, I'm going to look at this guy seriously. I'm going to run down everything I can about him. Where was he? What was he doing? Who's he associating with? What's going on?" said Patrick McStay.
As it turns out, Johansen had moved from Big Bear Lake to San Clemente by the time the McStay family went missing.
At 1:10 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2010, deputies arrested Johansen on charges of interfering with a business and resisting a peace officer, after he refused to leave the OC Tavern, according to an Orange County jail booking record.
The OC Tavern -- located at 2369 S El Camino Real, San Clemente – is directly next door to an office building that Joseph McStay had leased to operate his fountain business, Earth Inspired Products.
At the time of Johansen's arrest, however, it appears McStay had already moved out of his office at 2377 S El Camino Real, Suite A.
Johansen gave Orange County deputies his address -- in the 200 block of Avenida Lobiero in San Clemente -- when he was booked into jail for the 2010 arrest. The address is about two miles away from the San Clemente home that Joseph and Summer McStay had rented prior to their move to Fallbrook.
The resulting misdemeanor complaint charged Johansen with one count of interfering with a business. "Defendant unlawfully refused to leave the premises of the business establishment after being requested to leave by the owner's agent," the charging document said.
Johansen pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to one year probation, given credit for three days in custody, ordered to stay away from the OC Tavern, and was required to provide a DNA sample, the court records said.
CBS News 8 has been unable to reach Vick Johansen for comment because currently he is incarcerated in the Mono County Jail in Bridgeport, Calif.
Officers arrested Johansen in October on a vandalism charge for allegedly breaking out a door window of a bar in Mammoth Lakes.
A Mono County Superior Court official told CBS News 8 that Johansen, 36, is known as a transient veteran in the small, mountain community.
Johansen's criminal history in Mono County includes a felony vandalism conviction in August 2011, when he destroyed an $800 computer during an altercation with roommates; and a misdemeanor disturbing the peace conviction in June 2013, when he threatened a teller at a Bank of America.
His probation was revoked in July 2013 when Johansen allegedly returned to the same Bank of America branch in violation of a court order.
In 2011, Patrick McStay had urged San Diego County Sheriff Department detectives to investigate Johansen's background; one of many leads they failed to follow, according to the elder McStay.
"The problem with all of this is the San Diego Sheriff's Department never bothered to look into any of this," said Patrick McStay.
Sheriff's officials defended their work in the days following the discovery of the McStay remains, saying a team of detectives spent countless hours on the case.
"We looked at bank records, phone records ... we never stopped investigating the case, never," San Diego Sheriff Spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said.
The murder investigation now has been turned over to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department.
McStay murder mystery: Who is Michael McFadden? Posted: Dec 16, 2013 7:54 PM EST
LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (CBS 8) -- It has been five weeks since the skeletal remains of Joseph and Summer McStay and their two young sons were found buried in the high desert near Victorville.
CBS News 8 investigated several people associated with the Fallbrook family that went missing in February 2010, and then was found murdered on November 11.
Michael James McFadden is the current husband of Joseph McStay's ex-wife, Heather; and the step-father of Joseph's McStay's now 17-year-old son by the first marriage.
A few months before the McStay family disappeared from their Fallbrook home on Feb. 4, 2010, Summer McStay filed a Child Protective Services complaint against McFadden, according to Joseph McStay's father, Patrick McStay.
CPS investigations are confidential, so the exact nature of the complaint cannot be confirmed.
"No one knows what the CPS report said because we're not allowed to see it," Patrick McStay told CBS News 8 in an interview from his home in Texas. "I have evidence that there were threats made, after the CPS report, to Joey and Summer."
Patrick McStay claimed the threat was made by McFadden, and was related to the CPS complaint allegedly filed by Summer McStay.
"I know that Joey had discussed going for custody of his eldest boy. I know that there was a CPS report. I have found evidence that there was a threat. I found my son's notes that tell me what was going on, and McFadden is named in the notes," Patrick McStay said. "To me, that is enough to investigate this guy."
McFadden, 49, works at a jewelry store in Laguna Beach, once owned by his father-in-law.
McFadden hung up when reached on the telephone by a CBS News 8 producer, so we sent a camera crew by his store. He has not been named as a suspect in the McStay murders and declined to answer questions about the case.
Court records show McFadden is an ex-con who served prison time following a felony, domestic violence assault 15 years ago.
In July of 1998, Huntington Beach police officers arrested McFadden after the brutal assault that caused great bodily injury to his then girlfriend, a mother of four children, according to court records.
"Michael McFadden broke into my house and repeatedly punched me, head butted me, choked me, kicked me… telling me he was going to kill me. I believe had I not escaped I would not be here today," the victim wrote in a declaration in support of a restraining order.
The woman, who CBS News 8 is not identifying, was age 39 at the time of the incident. The beating left her with a "concussion and 30 stitches on my forehead," according to her declaration.
"I ran to my brother's house. The ambulance was called. Michael McFadden fled the scene to his house in Laguna and was arrested shortly thereafter," the declaration continued. "I am afraid for myself and my four children."
The woman included photographs of her injuries in the court filing. There was no indication in the court papers that a weapon was used in the attack.
McFadden, then age 33, was charged in Orange County Superior Court with eight felony counts, including burglary, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, corporal injury to a spouse (or significant other), terrorist threats, and attempted murder.
In January 2000, McFadden pleaded guilty to a pair of felonies: assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, and terrorist threats. He was sentenced to two years, eight months in prison; and ended up serving 15 months.
"What can you take from this? I mean, I gotta figure this guy is pretty dangerous," said Patrick McStay, Joseph McStay's father.
CBS News 8 wanted to ask McFadden about his criminal history and the CPS complaint that Summer McStay allegedly filed against him. Instead, he escorted our camera crew out of the jewelry store without commenting on the case.
Recently, however, an online forum user with the name Michael McFadden posted the following remarks on the crime-sleuthing web site, Blink on Crime:
New book by Chase Merritt claims Joseph McStay thought he was being poisoned and suspected his wife Summer was involved. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...-new-book.html
Joseph McStay – the father of the family of four found dead in the California desert after vanishing nearly four years ago – had suspicions his wife was POISONING him in the days before their disappearance, according to an explosive new book.
Joseph, 40, was suffering from a mystery illness in the months before he went missing with Summer and their two young children, and would spend days in bed barely able to walk.
Doctors couldn’t diagnose the energy-sapping condition and according to his close friend, Chase Merritt, he started to suspect that his fiery wife may have something to do with it.
Merritt – who was once a person of interest in the family’s 2010 disappearance – claims some of Joseph’s friends started telling him to be careful around Summer, 43.
And the fountain designer told MailOnline how Joseph once said to him, ‘Maybe I should start eating out more and stop eating her food’.
In further sensational claims, Merrit’s new book – Afraid of the Light – will detail how the couple were having major problems in their relationship and had not had sex for more than a year before they went missing.
Merritt also says Summer had a terrible temper and would often snap at her husband over completely insignificant things.
The disappearance of Joseph, Summer and their two sons Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3 gripped the nation for almost four years, keeping people guessing until their bodies were discovered lying in a shallow grave in the Californian desert on November 15.
Read more at the LINK above.
Suspect in McStay family killings arrested - CNN.com
CNN) -- Almost a year to the day after an off-road motorcyclist found the remains of a California family who had vanished from their home in 2010, authorities announced Friday they had arrested the man they believe is responsible for the deaths. Charles "Chase" Merritt is charged with four counts of murder in the deaths of Joseph and Summer McStay and their two small boys, San Bernardino County, California, District Attorney Michael Ramos told reporters at a news conference.
Merritt, 57, was arrested Wednesday without incident in Chatsworth, California, Detective Chris Fisher said.
Police say they believe the family died of "blunt force trauma" inside their home north of San Diego, but they declined to discuss specifics of the deaths or a motive.
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