Newly released court documents hold clues to McStay murder

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A stack of court documents released Wednesday holds some clues to the disappearance of the McStay family of Fallbrook.

A business associate of Joseph McStay, Chase Merrit, is accused of killing the family and these documents might explain more about the motive.

If prosecutors are right, the answer lies in anger and money. 

The McStay family, Joseph, his wife Summer and their two sons, Gianni and Joe Junior, just vanished back in February of 2010.

But where did they go?

The San Diego County Sheriff called it a mysterious disappearance.

There was grainy surveillance video from the San Ysidro border that may be them crossing the border into Mexico, but it's unclear if they're on the run or just running.

It was a case closed, except for the questions about why this entire family could just vanish.

Then, the bodies were found two years later, buried in shallow graves in the upper desert of San Bernardino County near Victorville.

In one of the graves, they found a sledge hammer, presumed to be the murder weapon.

This was not a case of a family on the run, it was a family who had been murdered they said.

And it was San Bernardino County Deputies who arrested Charles Chase Merrit, who had worked with McStay in a construction business. 

In the documents revealed by the court Wednesday as part of Merritt's preliminary hearing, prosecutors claim McStay lent money to Merritt, $30,000, to cover a gambling debt and he planned to fire Merritt.

And when they searched Merritt's home, prosecutors claim they found letters that talked about remorse, forgiveness and murder. 

All of this new information is not part of the record and a judge will decide soon whether or not it's enough for Chase Merritt to stand trial for murder.

And it may help answer the question why an entire family turned up dead.

And here is something more buried in the paperwork.

Two days after the missing persons report was filed on the McStay family, detectives went to interview Chase Merritt.

He denied knowing anything, of course, but detectives noticed he was referring to them in the past tense.

It was a red flag and it leg them back to Merritt when the bodies were found. 

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