teaHe looked like an all-American family living the McStays dream. Joseph Sr ran a successful waterfall business in a suburb of California, spending time in his spare time with his raven-haired wife Summer and their two young sons, Gianni, 4, and Joey Jr, 3 years old.
They had loving family and friends and enjoyed going on trips and watching their young sons grow and learn.
Then it disappeared in February 2010.
No signals or sounds were heard from them for nearly four years, until an off-road motorcyclist discovered two shallow graves in the Mojave Desert and tragically uncovered the bodies of the couple and their children.
The shocking discovery creates even more mystery and reveals an astonishing number of suspects who appear to have motives to pursue their family, according to a new series debuting at Investigation Discovery this weekend.
“It was kind of absurd,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, executive producer on the show. two shallow gravessay independent.
He adds: “There are too many motives with real other people who could be potential suspects. I usually tell you [look at] ‘Oh, there could be one or two involved.’
“It is possible that one or two or more people were involved when this started. It is abnormal.”
One of the suspects, Charles “Chase” Merritt, was convicted of murder in 2019 and is serving a death sentence in California. The ID series, of course, features new interviews with Merritt, who he claims to be innocent, plus trial footage, interviews with the legal team and McStay’s loved ones.
“I think the trial footage and the approach of Merrit, the prosecution and the defense allowed us to create a much more intimate picture for an audience that provides the full story,” says Fitzpatrick.
“It tells the story of the trial, the relationship between Merritt and Joseph Maxstay, and the understanding of the families of both sides of the trial… We said, ‘This is going to be a comprehensive look at this story,’ but we haven’t done it before.”
The case was confusing from the start.
In early 2010, one seemingly normal day, McStay was talking to his father and said that they were having lunch. That was the last time they talked. No one has heard from McStays since February 4, 2010.
Investigating the McStay murder and subsequent trial, Two Shallow Graves will air seven episodes over three nights starting May 22 on Investigatrion Discovery/discovery+.
It took some time for people to worry. The family sometimes takes small vacations, so it took over a week for McStay’s older brother Michael to stop by the house to see if there was an answer to where they were.
He found rotten food and Mrs. McStay’s prescription sunglasses. There were no signs of foul play. After reporting his family’s disappearance on February 15, police found McStays’ vehicle towed from a parking lot near the Mexican border on February 8. A search for a trip to Mexico was also found on the family’s computer, supporting the theory that they went on a trip. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department even posted a video of a family resembling McStays walking across the border into Mexico.
For many years it has been a widespread belief among law enforcement agencies.
Things changed in November 2013 when a body was found in the desert along with a sledgehammer believed to be a weapon of murder.
The following year, police arrested Merritt, who was running a waterfall business with McStay. He had a criminal record, and it turned out he stole money from the company. As the investigation continued, it was revealed that the last call from McStay’s phone was from Merritt. Merritt’s cell phone rang near a tower in the desert near a shallow grave.
Prosecutors told the jury that Merritt killed the family after learning that Mr. McStay had fired him. They said the victim told his friends that Merritt had done sloppy work and stole money.
Merritt refutes this theory and argues that he was the one who set the alarm for McStays’ disappearance in the documentary, claiming that he would have reported the disappearance of four people without their family.
However, he was convicted in June 2019 and sentenced to death in January of the following year.
However, according to the new series, there were a surprising number of others who had significant competition with McStays.
Mrs McStay’s ex-boyfriend emailed her months before the family went missing, telling the mother of two “I will love her forever.” He lived nearby and was arrested for threatening a neighbor and her daughter.
McStay’s ex-wife’s new husband was a man with a criminal record of threatening to “shoot” McStay and beat her husband.
And at McStay’s job was a computer expert managing the company’s website. It was he who sent MrMcStay a message threatening to essentially destroy the site and ruin the business. two shallow gravesThe s also refers to advertisements claimed by the same person to sell a fountain business under its rightful owner.
In the series, attorney Raj Maline describes the suspect as a “walking and talking bandit,” but Merritt’s team was barred from bringing him or other suspects to court without concrete evidence linking them to the crime.
Executive Producer Jacinda A Davis said, “A lot of people’s names have come up and a lot of different theories have come up. independent. “I think a lot of people know that when this show airs. There will be a lot of discussion.
“I think of it as a story people want an answer to, and this project is another step towards giving people an answer to what actually happened.”
According to the production team, Merit herself was reluctant to participate because she could not control the narrative. They talked to him for months on a 15-minute phone call allowed in prison, and they were both surprised that he knew about the incident.
“It’s amazing,” says Davis. “Kevin and I do a lot of work on real crimes and talk to many people who have been convicted, and Merritt knows every detail of his case in a way he’s never experienced before.”
“At first he said, ‘I know this case better than a lawyer,'” Fitpatrick adds. “I’ve heard people say that before, but it’s not true.
“I think that’s probably true. He’s read it all and is currently writing a book about his case and continues to work in one way or another. In discussions with him, all he does is work on his case.”
In the series, Merritt asserts: “They did not have direct evidence to support me for these crimes. Everything was situational. everything.
“So unless there is direct evidence, you have to show enough circumstantial evidence to convince the jury that the jury was at home … and it was me who killed them.”
McStay’s friend Gina Watson and father Patrick are father Patrick, who in court called Merritt “a ruthless mass murderer” and told him “burn him in hell.” Both are convinced of Merritt’s guilt, but even they shake their heads and raise their eyebrows in another unexpected context of the incident. After their family went missing, the two began their own investigation in the new series, explaining how they scoured McStays’ emails and tracked down every clue they could find.
“I never knew who did that,” Watson said. two shallow graves. “I have never settled on anyone. I have followed all these paths, but I have never followed only one path except the other.”
She says: “Honestly, I wasn’t disappointed when they arrested Chase. [Merritt] but maybe afraid [investigators] We didn’t research the whole thing sufficiently because we found too much persuasive content in these other people’s files.”
She added that she “still” believed one of the other suspects was involved in the brutal murder.
“It’s not as simple as you think. I think that’s the point of the show,” says Fitzpatrick. independent. “It was not permitted to bring other suspects into court or trial. At the show, we … think it’s fair to say that the show sees other suspects, and I think it’s fair to say that when the show is over we’ll be up against some of them.”
seven episodes two shallow graves It premieres on Investigation Discovery on Sunday 9/8c and is available to stream on Discovery+.