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Authorities distribute "endangered missing" flier pertaining to missing McStay family

SAN DIEGO - Sheriff's deputies today put out a flier showing a Fallbrook couple and their 3- and 4-year-old sons who apparently abandoned their home and left a vehicle in San Ysidro.

The flier, describing the family as "endangered missing,'' is being distributed by sheriff's deputies and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Joseph McStay, 39, his wife Summer McStay, 32, and their sons, Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3, have not been seen since a family member asked deputies to do a welfare check at their Avocado Vista Lane home on Feb. 4, according to deputies.

The family's white 1996 Isuzu Trooper was found four days later, abandoned in San Ysidro.

Sheriff's Lt. Dennis Brugos called the disappearance ''out of character.'' Two dogs were left at the house, he said. No signs of a struggle were found at the home, Brugos said.

Joseph Jr. has a noticeable birthmark on his forehead, according to the flier, which was made public by the sheriff's deputies.

McStay has tattoos on both shoulders, according to the flier.

"We're still recovering phone records and financial records, both personal and business,'' he said. "We're reviewing border-crossing tapes and following leads from the public and family,'' Brugos said.

Brugos, who has 30 years in law enforcement, said the case was unusual. "Generally we find out the family went to Palm Springs for the weekend, or tragically was involved in murder-suicide,'' Brugos said. "I don't remember a case where a family of four has disappeared.''

Relatives of the missing family have created a Web site -- -- to keep their story before the public.

San Diego County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Anyone with more information on the McStays' whereabouts was asked to call the Sheriff's Department at (858) 974-2321.

Authorities complete search of house, vehicles of missing family

Investigators have tentatively completed searches of the home and two vehicles owned by the McStay family, who family and business associates said have been missing since Feb. 4. The family of four – Joseph McStay, 39, Summer McStay, 32, and sons Gianni, 4, and Joseph “Joey”, 3 – were living in a home in the Lake Rancho Viejo development in the Fallbrook/Bonsall area, just east of Interstate 15.

“Our team has gone through their house and both vehicles and we don’t have anything new to report,” said Lt. Dennis Brugos of the Sheriff’s homicide division.

When asked if any valuable information was gleaned from the inspection of the family’s Isuzu Trooper vehicle found in a tow lot late last week near the Mexican border, Brugos said, “There was nothing in it that was suspicious.”

Brugos said the investigation team is now concentrating on interviewing business associates and is actively working with liaison detectives in Mexico.

The Sheriff’s department was asked to make a welfare check on the family after receiving a phone call from McStay’s brother, Michael, who said it was uncharacteristic for his brother not to return his phone calls and be out of touch for two weeks.

When authorities made a call at the family home on the evening of Feb. 15, it appeared that something was amiss.

The family’s dogs had been left on the premises, but not provided for, and Brugos said, without elaborating that there were other things that concerned law enforcement when reviewing the scene at the couple’s home.

Authorities executed a search warrant on Feb. 19 at the family residence, which included authorization to search a pickup truck left on the property. The search at the McStay property encompassed most of the weekend, Brugos said, and included items such as phone records, documents, computer entries, and more.

Prior to moving to the Fallbrook/Bonsall area in November 2009, the McStay’s lived in Orange County.

Brugos confirmed that Summer McStay was previously known as Lisa Aranda and/or Lisa Martelli. He was uncertain when she changed her first name to “Summer,” or if it was done legally. Brugos said her legal maiden name was Aranda, but at times she used her stepfather’s last name of Martelli, although she was never adopted by him.

Watch this Web site for more information on this case as it becomes available.


Detectives search home, truck in missing family case

Shelli DeRobertis

Staff Writer

After securing a search warrant on Feb. 19, nearly a dozen investigators from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and Department of Justice, along with personnel and dogs from the county's search and rescue team, gathered at the 3400 block of Avocado Vista Lane to look for clues that might lead to discovering the whereabouts of the McStay family of four who have been missing since Feb. 4.

The investigation inside the McStay's residence began about 10:30 a.m., and no findings had been reported by late afternoon. A mobile command vehicle had been set up near the house and officials said they planned to stay and search until the evening.

Crime scene tape was draped around the McStay's house, which is in a neighborhood of two-story homes with manicured lawns.

“I've never seen a case like this,” said Lt. Dennis Brugos of the Sheriff’s homicide detail as he worked with investigators at the McStay house.

Brugos said there is no law against disappearing, but that it “was out of character” for this family not to mention their whereabouts to others.

Joseph “Joey” McStay, 39, his wife, Summer McStay, 32, and sons Gianni McStay, 4, and Joseph Mateo McStay, 3, are being sought by officials after they were reported missing by Michael McStay, Joseph’s brother.

After the initial search began, officials found the couple's Isuzu Trooper in a tow yard near the Mexican border. That vehicle is currently at the crime lab, Brugos said.

Now, officials are looking inside their house for items such as phone records, diaries, documents, and entries made in their computer, Brugos said.

Investigators are also looking to determine “if there may have been violence,” he said.

On a side note, Brugos added that the house was in the process of being remodeled inside.

He said the investigation is still in the early stages, and that officials from Orange County are also involved.

The McStay family used to live in Orange County and moved to Lake Rancho Viejo Development, east of Interstate 15, in November 2009.

(previous story - Wed. Feb. 17, 2010)

Debbie Ramsey

Managing Editor

Authorities have launched a search for a missing Bonsall family of four after a welfare check conducted by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department raised concerns.

The whereabouts of Joseph “Joey” McStay, 39, his wife, Summer McStay, 32, and sons Gianni McStay, 4, and Joseph Mateo McStay, 3, are being sought by officials.

Lt. Dennis Brugos of the Sheriff’s homicide division said family, friends and business associates said the last time any members of the family were seen was on Feb. 4.

Concern heightened, Brugos said, when officers visited the family’s home in the 3400 block of Avocado Vista Lane the evening of February 15.

“Deputies saw some things that aroused their suspicion; one of which was the fact that the family’s two dogs were there, but no provisions had been make for their care,” said Brugos. “That, very quickly, increased the level of concern.”

When asked why this missing persons’ case was immediately sent to the homicide division, Brugos said, “Because it’s so out of character for an entire family to disappear.”

The family’s vehicle, an Isuzu Trooper, was discovered afterward in a tow yard near the Mexican border. Tow company workers told officers that the sport utility vehicle had been towed from a parking lot located near the international border.

For Brugos, it was another sign of something amiss.

“Cars are typically towed from those locations when they are left overnight or longer,” said Brugos. “At best it would be considered irresponsible; at worst, something more sinister.” Investigators seized the vehicle immediately.

“It has been taken to the crime lab for processing,” explained Brugos. “In these types of cases, generically, we check with Mexican officials, contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), work with the state Department of Justice and see if there has been any action on [the individuals’] credit cards or any cell phone activity.”

The authorities were originally contacted by Joseph McStay’s brother, Michael, who told officers “it is unusual for my brother not to be in touch with me.”

“If family members are saying their relatives would never leave without telling them, and business associates say the same, we have to assume something is wrong,” said Brugos. “No one could figure out why they were gone. There is certainly no history of them doing that previously.”

Joseph McStay is said to own Earth Inspired Products, an indoor water feature design business. He is described as a white male with brown hair and eyes, approximately five feet, nine inches tall, and 175 pounds.

Summer McStay, Brugos said, appears to be a homemaker and is of Columbian descent with brown hair and eyes, is approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall, and weighs 115 pounds.

The couple has lived in their home in the Lake Rancho Viejo Development, east of Interstate 15, since November 2009. They previously lived in Orange County.

Anyone with information on the family’s whereabouts is asked to call Sgt. Dave Martinez at (858) 974-2321 or Crime Stoppers (anonymous tip line) at (888) 580-8477.

Early version

BONSALL - Investigators sought today to track down a Bonsall couple and their two young children, who went missing nearly two weeks ago from their 3473 Avocado Vista Lane home.

Friends, relatives and business associates of Bonsall residents Joseph and Summer McStay and their sons, 4-year-old Gianni and 3-year-old Joseph Jr., have not seen them since Feb. 4, sheriff's Lt. Dennis Brugos said.

A white 1996 Isuzu Trooper owned by the family was found abandoned in San Ysidro, according to news accounts.

The McStays' absence came to light Monday evening, after the brother of the elder Joseph McStay requested a welfare check at their Avocado Vista Lane residence.

Joseph McStay owns Earth Inspired Products, an indoor fountain and waterfall company. According to the website, McStay has operated the business since 1996 and it is one of the largest selections of hand made nature inspired products available.

The family had just moved into their home, according to county records, in November, 2009.

"Evidence at the family home suggested that the family had not left on a planned vacation and that the totality of the circumstances surrounding their disappearance was quite out of character for this family,'' Brugos said.

The McStays' dogs were still in the home, and the family apparently had made no arrangements for the animals' care, the lieutenant told reporters.

Anyone with information on the McStays' whereabouts was asked to call Sgt. Dave Martinez at the Sheriff's Department at (858) 974-2321.

Story will be updated shortly


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