The family of four – father Joseph McStay, mother Summer McStay, and sons Gianni and Joseph Jr. – vanished from their Fallbrook home in February 2010, leaving few clues behind.
Earlier this week, the remains of four people were found in and around shallow graves in a remote, high desert area of Victorville, Calif.
On Friday, San Bernardino County officials confirmed that two of the bodies are those of Joseph and Summer McStay. The other two victims are believed to be their young sons.
The grim discovery brings the McStay family back into the international spotlight.
For more than three years, the open-ended mystery of the missing family of four has baffled law enforcement, relatives and anyone who actively followed the case.
For years, Joseph McStay’s brother, Michael McStay, has managed and updated a website dedicated to finding his loved ones.
A Facebook page has also been dedicated to bringing the McStay family home. However, given the recent developments, the tone of that page has now changed.
Hundreds of people have taken to the social media page to express their sadness and condolences for the family.
“I have been following this case for years. So sorry that they were found like this,” reads one message.
“I am so sorry that this is the way their story ended. I have been hoping that somehow, some day we would hear a different story,” wrote another person.
“This family is ingrained in my heart, and they will remain there always,” reads another post.
On Saturday, page administrators posted the following somber message, in part, to the Facebook page:
“In light of the recent events the focus of this page has been changed from search to remembrance. Please leave messages of condolences, photos memories and mementos here for the family members.”
The messages don’t end there.
A website where people can light a virtual candle in remembrance of a loved one has a section dedicated to the McStay family. By Saturday, hundreds of people across at least 9 countries had left an online candle and message for the family.
As the world mourns the family, investigators are now turning their attention to finding the person or persons responsible for the deaths.
San Bernardino County officials are expected to release autopsy reports on the family, though that could take days. Meanwhile, law enforcement sources say the investigation remains active.
On Friday, a sobbing Michael McStay vowed to bring justice to his loved ones.
“We’re going to find this individual, or individuals. I know the sheriff’s department, the FBI, everybody wants to bring this to justice. And, if it’s the last thing I do – I just want to know when it’s over,” he added.
“You’ve got to be a cold-blooded killer to murder two children. I just want whoever did it prosecuted,” he said. “Found and prosecuted.”
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has now taken the lead on this investigation. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and FBI – which took over the case earlier this year – will assist as needed.
More NBC 7 stories:
- Malfunctioning Drone Strikes Navy Ship, Injures 2 Sailors
- SoCal Off-Road Racing Star Killed in Crash
- McStay Family Found Dead
- Marines Died Making Firing Range Safer for Comrades
- FBI Gives Inside Look at the World of Online Predators
- Rutgers Football Player Quits Over Bullying
- Calif. Craigslist Ad: "Ghost Town with Liquor License"