March 30th, 2010
01:46 PM ET

Cops: Missing family went to Mexico


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/CRIME/02/22/california.missing.family/story.mcstay.split.courtesy.jpg caption="Authorities originally believed evidence collected at the home of Joseph and Summer McStays suggested they hadn't planned on being gone long." width=300 height=169]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

New evidence may suggest that a Southern California family that disappeared in early February voluntarily left for Mexico, investigators said.

Joseph and Summer McStay and their children, Gianni, 4, and Joseph, 3, have not been seen or heard from since February 4.

But key questions about the mystery and the apparent inactivity of bankcards, credit cards and cell phones since they vanished continue to baffle police and troubled family members.

“I’ve been in this business for over 35 years but I've never seen anything like this, Lt. Dennis Brugos of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department told CNN.

“This whole thing doesn’t add up,” Michael McStay, the brother of Joseph McStay, said in a phone interview. “If they left, I don’t need to know why. The bottom line is I need to make sure they are OK.”

Information gathered on the McStay's home computer reveal the couple was making travel inquires about Mexico on the internet a week before they were reported missing, Brugos said.

“It had to do with travel in Mexico with children and whether you needed to have passports for children,” Brugos said. “It looks as if there were some planning.”

Their two dogs were found unattended without food or water in the Mcstay’s San Diego house, investigators said. Mr. Mcstay’s brother, who initially feared the family might have been kidnapped, still believes they are in danger.

“They can’t fend for themselves,” Michael McStay said. “If something did happen in Mexico, I would not be able to live with myself.

An SUV belonging to the McStays was found abandoned on February 8 just two blocks from the San Ysidro border checkpoint, authorities said.

Surveillance video taken that evening appears to show the family “casually” walking into Mexico, the sheriff’s department said.

Brugos thinks the four individuals seen on the security footage bear a striking resemblance to the members of the missing family, including the hats the children wore and the woman’s boots and coat.

Brugos told CNN that the sheriff’s office was meeting today with the department’s liaison detectives in Mexico.

“There is nothing to suggest any criminal involvement in their disappearance, but we would like to find the family,” Brugos said.

Michael McStay, who told CNN he will be handing out flyers at the San Ysirdo checkpoint and canvassing the stores, is desperate for any information.

“Who knows what happens once you leave U.S. soil?” he said. “We’ve all seen the news about what goes on down there. Even if they left voluntarily, were they going down for a weekend and never made it back? What would compel someone to go? I have no idea. If they left it would have had to be something heavy...it just doesn’t make sense.”

Joseph McStay is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 175 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes. Summer McStay, also known as Lisa Aranda-Martelli, is 5 feet 5 inches tall and 115 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the McStay family is urged to contact Sgt. Dave Martinez of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department at 858-565-5200. Anonymous calls can be made to 888-580-8477.

For more crime coverage go to cnn.com/crime.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. alice

    I think these people had something to hide... and decided to start a new life elsewhere. Mom and Dad need to be looked at carefully to see what kind of connectioms they had. They may not be in Mexico, but used it to leave the country and may be in another part of the world by now.

    March 30, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
  2. Christina Mohabbat

    I hope the family is ok.

    March 30, 2010 at 2:41 pm |