Created: Fri, 15 Nov 2013 07:00:00 PST
Updated: Fri, 15 Nov 2013 10:34:26 PST
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Four sets of human remains found in the Mojave Desert near Victorville this week are believed to be those of a Fallbrook family that went missing nearly four years ago and are believed to have been murdered, authorities said today.
A motorcyclist on Monday found in a shallow grave the skeletons of Joseph and Summer McStay and two others believed to be their young children, Gianni and his younger brother, Joseph Jr., San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said.
Dental records have confirmed the identity of the adult remains, and detectives have concluded that all four were homicide victims, McMahon told reporters in a late-morning briefing.
The sheriff declined to disclose how the McStays might have been killed and released no information on possible suspects.
News that the family had been murdered was devastating to the McStay family, who've been in limbo about the family's fate since February of 2010. "It's not really the outcome we were looking for, but it gives us courage to know that they're together and they're in a better place," Joseph McStay's brother Michael said at the late-morning briefing. Through sobs, he went on to say, "We would ask that you would give the family members their space and let us go through the grieving process."
The last known confirmed sighting of the family was on Feb. 4, 2010. The then-40-year-old husband, who owned a decorative-fountain company, his 43-year-old wife and their sons, ages 4 and 3, appeared to have left their northern San Diego County home in haste, according to investigators.
Deputies found the family's two dogs at the house, and nothing inside suggested the family had gone on a trip. A carton of eggs was left on a kitchen counter, according to sheriff's officials.
The couple's white Isuzu Trooper had turned up near the San Ysidro border crossing a few days earlier. One of the boys' asthma medicine was inside it.
Among few possible pieces of evidence in the case was a blurry Feb. 8, 2010, video showing four people resembling the family walking into Mexico.
John Carroll contributed to this report.