Major Developments in 2 missing persons cases
For nearly four years, there having been two, unrelated, cases of missing persons that have affected me. One--the McStay family case--was pretty close to home and personal. The other, the disappearance of Dana Point, California, yacht broker Ed Fitzgerald, with an estimated three million dollars of money belonging to others, was more of a business-related situation, albeit one that indirectly involved me.
Both of these cases I wrote about in this newsletter--separately--between three and four years ago. There were many times during the four years when I wondered if the missing people in either case would ever be located. Now, they all have been found.
When national media outlets broke the grim news last Friday about finding the remains of the missing McStay family, many Champs contacted me, expressing condolences, which I appreciated. I promised them that I would provide updates on both cases today.
Last Friday was a difficult day for the thousands of people around the world who have followed the story of the missing McStay family, primarily on the Find the McStay family facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/324645994165/ and the McStayfamily.org website. For me, it's difficult to express my thoughts on this case. But, if someone who knows someone who knows anything about what happened to the McStays, it could lead to finding the killers.
In the late 1980s, and early 1990s, I helped raise two stepsons--Joey and Mikey McStay. Their mother Susan and I were married for six years.
On February 4, 2010, Joey, his wife Summer, and their two children, ages 4 and 3, disappeared from their North San Diego County home. They left food on the table, their beloved dogs behind, and $80,000 in the bank, so it didn't appear they left voluntarily.
However, four days later their car was found parked in a shopping center near the Mexican border. People speculated that they had left on their own. After almost three years of investigating the case, the San Diego Sheriff's department decided that's what had happened and dropped the investigation--they felt it was strictly a missing persons case.
National media featured the disappearance, including America's Most Wanted and other national shows. I wrote about the case, hoping someone might have seen the family of four.
Almost every day since, I kept hoping that I would hear the news or Joey would call me saying they were safe.
Last Thursday night, I received a phone call from Mikey; I could tell by the sound of his voice that the news wasn't good. He said, "They're all gone." I couldn't process his words. I kept asking, "Are you sure?"
Earlier in the week, an off-road motorcyclist had noticed human bones in the San Bernardino desert near Victorville, California. He notified authorities, who found the McStay family remains in two shallow graves.
A press conference was held last Friday morning at the San Bernardino sheriff's office. The conference was broadcast across the nation. To see my former wife, Susan, and her son, Mikey, in such a state of grief tore my heart apart.
I muddled through the rest of the day unable to process the news, unable to comprehend such a terrible act. It seemed every time I turned on the radio, or the TV, or the Internet, the news regarding the discovery of the McStay family remains was featured.
Reality struck Friday at about 3:30 p.m. for me. I was pulling into a shopping center in Dana Point to have my cell phone inspected at the A.T.& T store there. On radio station KNX, Los Angeles, Scott Pelley of the CBS national evening TV news was doing a promo for his show that night. The entire two minutes was devoted to the McStay family. I thought to myself, "Oh my God, I was in this shopping center at least 25 times with Joey when we lived together." It was surreal.
Yes, I have spoken to Susan. She said, "I am numb. I never imagined this outcome. I never gave up hope. Now, there's a new focus on the case." She's a brave woman.
The case is now being investigated as a homicide by the San Bernardino sheriff and the FBI. Let's hope whoever murdered this family is brought to justice.
Missing persons case #2
Of much lesser importance to me, is the case of former yacht broker Ed Fitzgerald. He was arrested six months ago in Florida. He's been in an Orange County, California, jail since. On Tuesday, I attended the first pre-trial hearing at the courthouse in Newport Beach.
He was a deli customer of mine. When he disappeared in July, 2009, he left a trail of broken dreams and wallets. It was alleged that he owed nearly $3 million to friends and associates, many of whom I know. As a local columnist, I felt it was my duty to write an ebook about his disappearance.Dana Point Yacht Ponzi. The Ed Fitzgerald Scandal Fitzgerald Scandal.
Tuesday, when I met the prosecuting deputy District Attorney, he said, "I read your book."
From the sounds of the testimony from the first few victims, I would speculate that he will be sentenced to several years in prison.
It is ironic that after nearly four years, both of these cases are coming to a close, and had major milestones within a week of each other.