Nearly one year to the day after the grizzly discovery of the remains of the McStay family, authorities in California announced on Friday that they have arrested Joseph McStay’s former business partner, Charles “Chase” Merritt.
Merritt was charged with four counts of murder for the killings Joseph, 40; Summer, 43; Gianni, 4; and Joseph Jr., 3. Merritt was arrested on Wednesday, according to CNN. The charges against Merritt make him eligible for the death penalty. However, in July of this year, a federal court judge made an unprecedented ruling declaring the death penalty to be “unconstitutional” in the state of California.
The February, 2010 disappearance of the McStay family was shrouded in mystery for years. Their bodies were discovered on November 11, 2013 by a motorcyclist in San Bernadino County – over 100 miles from the family’s north San Diego County home in Fallbrook. The bodies were reportedly positively identified using dental records, notes CNN.
Last year, CBS News affiliate KFMB conducted an extensive background search on Merritt and discovered a criminal past consisting of burglary, theft, and jail time.
In an emotional address during Friday’s press conference, Joseph McStay’s brother Michael said he “was a great brother, a great father. He would have done anything to protect those boys and Summer,” notes CBS. “He tried to help Chase and provide work for this guy, and this is how he was repaid.”
Merritt is reportedly in custody at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. He will be arraigned on Friday afternoon.
Police did not specify an alleged motive for the murders, and Merritt has not been alleged to have acted alone or with accomplices, in what authorities had described at the time of the discovery of the remains as a highly “orchestrated” murder.