Tag Archives: California

Who killed the McStay family?


Victorville, California – Four years ago, Patrick McStay lost everything he loved. His son, Joseph, his daughter-in-law, Summer, and their two little boys, Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3 vanished. “From Day One, I just had this gut feeling that I was never going to see them again,” he said, swallowing tears. “I just knew. Something told me, I wasn’t going to see them again.”

The McStays disappeared from their home in suburban San Diego in February 2010.

There were no signs of a struggle. No apparent plan to flee. Nearly four years later, the mother, father and two boys were found slain in the Mojave Desert their bodies buried in shallow graves.


How did they get there? Who killed them?

From the beginning, the case has baffled investigators, but they aren’t giving up.

Said John McMahon, sheriff of San Bernardino County, in an exclusive interview with CNN: “It is certainly my hope that at some point in the future, we’ll be able to solve this, and bring the suspect or suspects to justice.”

February 4, 2010, began as an ordinary day in the McStay home in Fallbrook, a community of about 30,000 people about 18 miles from the Pacific Coast and 50 miles north of San Diego.

Patrick McStay spoke on the phone with his son, who ran a custom water feature business, and was scheduled to have a lunch meeting around noon. Summer McStay spent the day caring for the kids and overseeing the family’s home renovation.

They were looking forward to their youngest son’s birthday party that weekend. But that night, the family of four suddenly left the house, the doors locked, the car gone. Inexplicably, their two beloved dogs were left outside without food or water.


“It’s as if you took off really fast but were coming back,” said Susan Blake, Joseph McStay’s mother, who is divorced from Patrick McStay. “Your thoughts are going wild. ‘Well, why would they be missing?’ Something’s not right here,” she said.

The investigation

Early evidence pointed investigators south.

Four days after the McStays disappeared, detectives say the family’s white Isuzu Trooper was parked and subsequently towed from a parking lot just steps from the Mexican border. And the car wasn’t the only clue. After they found the Isuzu, investigators discovered someone at the McStay home had done a computer search for getting passports to Mexico. They also found surveillance video showing a family of four matching the McStays’ description crossing on foot into Mexico on February 8. “I just thought, well, maybe they took off,” said Joseph’s mother.

But his father wasn’t buying it. “I said right up front, the first time I saw it (the surveillance footage), it wasn’t them,” said Patrick McStay, adding that Summer was afraid of Mexico. “Would Summer take her two children in there? Heck, no,” he said.


Missed opportunities

Patrick McStay worried detectives were chasing dead-end clues. “I could have probably hired some Boy Scouts and done a better job,” he said.

He reached out to Tim Miller, founder of the nonprofit search-and-rescue organization Texas Equusearch, which, in turn, contacted freelance investigative journalist Steph Watts for help. One point that raised questions for Watts was the last known call from Joseph McStay’s cell phone. The call was to a friend, Chase Merritt. It came in about 40 minutes after a neighbor’s security camera captured the family’s Isuzu pulling out of the McStay’s cul-de-sac. Merritt didn’t answer.

Among those questions, Watts said, were, “Did Joseph actually make that call from his phone, or did somebody else take Joseph’s phone and make that call? Was he trying to call for help?”

The journalist also noted the impact of the delay in reporting the family missing to law enforcement. Joseph’s brother contacted authorities 11 days after the McStays disappeared. He says he waited because he didn’t want to overreact, and thought the family might just be on vacation.

“The first few hours are so critical, the first few minutes … The beginning of someone trying to commit a crime against you, that’s the only chance you have to get out,” Watts said.

The call the family feared finally came in November 2013, from an off-roading motorcyclist in the Mojave Desert.

More than 150 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, and some 100 miles north of the McStay home, the biker found what looked to be part of a human skull in a remote area of Victorville, California.

Authorities investigated and found four skeletons in two shallow graves. With the help of dental records, they determined the bodies belonged to the McStays.

Once considered a missing persons case, the investigation moved to homicide. It also switched jurisdictions, passing from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Jan Caldwell, with the San Diego department, defended her office’s handling of the case. “This is an incredibly thorough investigation,” she said, her hand atop a thick stacks of files. “Thumbing through it, I can see phone records, I see photographs, I see communications.

“And to have done all of this, to have compiled this kind of a massive file and still not know the answer, enormously frustrating,” Caldwell said last year, soon after the remains were discovered.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is no longer commenting on the case. It refers all questions to San Bernardino, which declines to get into specifics, citing the ongoing investigation.

Summer’s mother, brother and sister also declined to comment to media.

Detectives still have not named any suspects or persons of interest. “There was certainly evidence found in and around the grave sites, but at this point we’re not prepared to talk about what evidence we did locate,” said McMahon, the San Bernardino sheriff. Watts said the only way the case will be cracked now is if someone talks. “There was more than one person involved in this case because not one person dragged four people out to the desert and buried them single-handedly,” he said. “As the pieces begin to come together, it’s looking to me like it was extremely orchestrated. So we have to ask ourselves, why?”

Like Watts, Patrick McStay believes the killer, or killers, has to be someone who hated his family for a reason, but that reason is unclear. So many theories. So many questions. So few answers. “It’s like a play. The first act has just ended. We’ve got three more acts to go,” he said.

Credit: CNN.com


Carol Coronado | Charged with murder of her 3 daughters – A possible Death Penalty case

coronadoCarol Coronado, a California mother of three little girls has been charged with their stabbing murders.  

She’s also been charged with the attempted murder of her mother. Authorities say Coronado attacked her mother when she confronted her. 

Carol Coronado was still hospitalized Thursday at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, where she received treatment for self-inflicted stab wounds.

She suffered wounds over her body, but most were considered scratches. Her most significant wound was to the upper chest, but it was not severe enough to be considered life-threatening, detectives said.

 She’s scheduled to be taken into the hospital jail ward.


The Crime Scene

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was called around 5.10 pm Tuesday when they responded to the 1000 block of West 23rd Street.

Carol Coronado’s husband, Rudy, was outside working on his pick-up truck parked across the street from their home.  When his mother-in-law, Julie Piercey, arrived about 5 p.m, he told her to go ahead and go inside.

Moments later Julie Piercey ran out of the small, white house, with a bloody knife in her hand.  She screamed at her son-in-law and frantically began dialling her cellphone.

“She killed the babies,” she said.

Julie made a horrifying discovery, when she found the children’s lifeless bodies inside the house.

Carol Coronado allegedly turned the knife on Ms Piercey when she confronted Coronado.  Piercey grabbed the kitchen knife from the mother’s hand.

Moments later, Rudy rushed inside when he heard her screams of “Oh my God!”

He screamed when he saw the bloody scene inside his home.

“He kept saying, ‘Oh my God, Oh my god,’ ”  neighbor Veronica Ruiz said.


Authorities found the bodies of 2-1/2-year-old Sophia, 16-month-old Yazmine and 2-month-old Xenia laid out on a bed after they were stabbed, Lt. Dave Coleman told the media  “The way the injuries occurred, they weren’t sleeping. She lined them up on the bed. They were neatly placed on the bed.”
Carol Coronado was near the bed where her 3 daughters were arranged on it in a pool of blood. Carol was covered in blood herself and had self-inflicted stab wounds.   Knives and a hammer were at the crime scene near the bodies. 
Coronado was found naked, covered in blood and holding a knife according to police.


Neighbors watched as deputies escorted her from the house, handcuffed and wrapped in a blanket.

“She had a zoned-out look and was just looking down,” Ashley Madrid, 27, said. “She had dry blood smeared on her face and legs.”


Carol Ann Coronado, 30, was charged with three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder Friday.  The attempted murder charge stems from Coronado attacking her own mother, Julie Piercey.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.

It is unclear whether prosecutors would seek the Death Penalty.



Autopsies conducted Thursday confirmed the children suffered stab wounds, but it was unclear whether they also suffered head trauma. The results were not disclosed.  A hammer and other knives were confiscated from the home to examine as potential evidence.

“The way the injuries occurred, they weren’t sleeping,” sheriff’s homicide Lt. Dave Coleman said. “She lined them up on the bed. They were neatly placed on the bed.”

“Placement of the girls’ bodies occurred after they were killed”, he said.

Family Reaction

Carol’s husband Rudy Coronado told a reporter that she must have been possessed by a demon.  

Their godfather, John Carrion, also said a demon was inside Coronado the day that the girls died.

“Pray for that woman. She had a demon inside her that day.”

He says he never saw Carol upset or angry:

“I don’t know how I feel about the woman right now.  I don’t understand what was going on in that woman’s head.”

Carrion says the father  is too overcome with grief to talk with anyone and Rudy is  “dazed and confused.”  

The godfather goes on to say:   “Right now, he’s giving her the benefit of doubt.  He just said he didn’t believe he saw Carol — he saw a demon inside her.  He said he doesn’t blame Carol. He blames the … demon.”

Sandra Coronado, Rudy’s sister told the media  “He says that there’s something in her that he didn’t see.  Something in her eyes.  I don’t know.”

“Never in a million years would I have thought anything like this,” the sister-in-law said.

Sandra Coronado said she never saw any demons inside her sister-in-law, but thought she lacked a “mother’s instinct.”

“Personally, I don’t have my kids spend the night nowhere,” she said. “Her,  it was like, ‘Fine,  go ahead and take them.’  She would let my cousin take them for like a week.  She would keep the baby.  She would say she was tired. She had to do homework.  She had to clean house.”

Carol Coronado, who was taking classes on the Internet, stayed at home with the children while her husband went out early each day to sell car parts at the Alpine Village swap meets.

She kept a cluttered home, which triggered some discord with her husband.

“I believe that was their main issue,” the sister-in-law said. “My brother wanted the house clean for his girls. He wanted to come home to a home-cooked meal.”

Carol Coronado, then Carol Piercey, met her husband in their Carson-area neighborhood. They married in 2011 near the Korean Bell in Angels Gate Park in San Pedro.

“It was beautiful,” the sister-in-law said. “My kids were the ring bearers.”

Coleman described the family’s home as a former workshop or “converted garage.” It opened to a common area and a kitchenette with a bedroom.

Coronado’s father-in-law said she was “trying to go to school and take care of the kids.”

“It’s real bad,” Rudy Coronado, 67, said.  Carol Coronado’s husband is also called Rudy.

“Right now, he’s giving her the benefit of doubt,” Carrion said. “He just said he didn’t believe he saw Carol — he saw a demon inside her. He said he doesn’t blame Carol. He blames the … demon.”

Carrion declined to speak further about the children’s’ mother, saying only that he had never seen her angry.

“I don’t know how I feel about the woman right now,” he said. “I don’t understand what was going on in that woman’s head.”

 How the day unfolded

Earlier in the day, Carol called her mother in the morning saying she felt like she was  “going crazy”.  

Sandra Coronado said she placed the call to her sister-in-law about 9am Tuesday, she didn’t question why, but made the call.

According to Sandra “All she said was, ‘You need to call Carol.  I’m at work.  I can’t talk to her right now,’ ” the sister-in law said. “If (Carol) told her that she was going crazy, she should have told me that.  She never even mentioned that.  If she would have told me that, things would have been different.”

Carol Coronado told Sandra she was tired and exhausted and planned to take her second oldest daughter to the doctor on the day.  Sandra offered to take care of the other two girls while Carol was out.

“She was sobbing,  she was crying.  And she said she was tired and exhausted. … I told her,  ‘Take her to the appointment and bring me the girls.’ ”

 Sandra Coronado said she heard her nieces crying in the background, but didn’t think anything of it. A mother herself, she knows children often cry when a parent is on the telephone.

Behind the crime

Carol Coronado had never been reported to the Department of Children and Family Services.  Investigators are looking into whether she might have been on drugs or suffering from postpartum depression.  Mental health experts can’t comment on the specifics of the case, because there is still so little information. But Phillip Resnick, the director of forensic psychiatry at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, told the media that it can be difficult for women suffering from postpartum depression or mental health issues to get help: “A woman may be so ashamed she won’t reveal problems to a doctor. They won’t reveal thoughts of killing their children, because they’re fearful a social worker will take their children away.”

Carol Coronado served in the Army for a short time over 10 years ago and had to leave because of medical reasons.  She was taking online classes while staying home with the kids.

Relatives said that the couple fought about housekeeping. Carol would ask relatives to watch her girls from time-to-time, so she could clean the house and do homework.   Sandra Coronado told the media, “My brother wanted the house clean for his girls.   He wanted to come home to a home-cooked meal.”

Those who know the family said there was no indication that anything was wrong.  Coronado often took the girls on walks up and down the street, a neighbor said.   Her Facebook page featured several photos of the girls, including an ultrasound photo.

 Funeral, Vigil and Fundraising

Outside the home, relatives assembled a small memorial of flowers, candles and teddy bears. On Wednesday evening, several dozen people attended a vigil for the slain girls, including their father. Surrounded by relatives and friends, he cried and rubbed the photos of his three daughters.

At a vigil Wednesday night outside his home, Rudy Coronado broke down. He collapsed to the ground on his knees, bent over and cried next to a memorial of flowers, candles and teddy bears.  Relatives stroked his back and head.

The girls, Carrion said, were energetic and loved the Disney movie “Frozen.” There were plans for a baptism this fall.

“They were the most beautiful babies you had ever seen,” he said. “They loved their daddy and he loved them. Pray for my babies, please, pray for my babies. Pray for Rudy. And even pray for that woman.”

 Family members spent the afternoon Thursday making funeral arrangements for the girls and planning fundraisers to pay for the services. A distraught Rudy Coronado cried when he signed papers at the funeral home. 

 Money also was an issue for the young couple. Faced with funeral expenses, family members have scheduled car washes and bake sales to raise funds Saturday and Sunday at Henry’s Market at Avalon Boulevard and 184th Street. A car show, and fundraisers at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, Alpine Village near Carson, and Buffalo Wild Wings are also in the works. And an online fundraiser was established on Gofundme.com under the title “Our 3 little angels.”

Carol Coronado Arrested After 3 Young Daughters Found Stabbed To Death


Three little girls were stabbed to death in their home near Torrance,  California. on Tuesday, according to multiple reports in the local media.

The children, ages 3, 2 and 2 months old, were found lying in a pool of blood on a bed alongside their mother, police said.

Carol Coronado, 30, was naked, covered in blood and holding a knife, the station reported. Police took her to an area hospital and then to the Carson Sheriff’s Station.

The children were all pronounced dead at the scene.

South Bay Crime has collected several images of the children taken from what it believes to be Coronado’s Facebook page, including a sonogram, presumably of one of the victims.

Coronado had called her mother earlier in the day and said she was going crazy, neighbor Ashley Madrid told the Daily Breeze. When Coronado’s mother arrived at the home, she found her grandchildren’s bodies and called police.

The girls’ father was working on his car across the street at the time of the slayings, the website reported.

I saw when they were bringing him out,” Madrid was quoted as saying. “He was
crying. He was crying, ‘She killed my daughters!’”

Madrid also watched as police brought Coronado out of the home.

“She was full of blood on her face and arms,” Madrid said.

Coronado is expected to be charged with murder, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said in a press release. Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact (323) 890-5500.

credits: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/