Earlier this week, authorities discovered the remains of Joseph and Summer McStay buried in a shallow grave in the Mojave desert. The couple, along with their two young sons, Gianni and Joseph Jr., have been missing since 2010, when they disappeared from their suburban California home. Police are treating their deaths as homicides.
"It's too early to tell if its [drug] cartel-related or any other suspects," San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told the Los Angeles Times. "But, again, the investigation is early and we have not had an opportunity to read all their reports."
Four sets of bones were found on Monday by an off-road motorcyclist about 60 miles outside of Los Angeles. Two sets were positively identified as the McStay's on Friday, and the other two are believed to be their sons, though they have not yet been identified.
The McStay family vanished without a trace on February 4, 2010. Several days later, friends and family reported them missing. Some reports indicate the McStay's left their home in a hurry: Rotten eggs were found on their kitchen table as were two bowls of popcorn, and the family's dogs were left out in the back yard.
The family's car was towed from a San Diego shopping mall near the Mexican border several days after their disappearance; that day's surveillance video of a nearby pedestrian crossing into Mexico shows two young boys being escorted across the border, though neither was confirmed as one of the McStay's children. There were also rumors that the McStays had fled into Mexico.
"The bottom line," the lead investigator in the case, Troy Dugal, told the Los Angeles Times in 2011, "was that life was normal for the McStays up to Feb. 4, and on that day they just vanished."