Forensic pathologist gives insight into McStay case - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Forensic pathologist gives insight into McStay case

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Forensic clues may leave behind what killed the McStay family but it may not show when they died. 

"Obviously a very, very meticulous thorough, inch by inch search will have to be made to look for bullets, to look for items of clothing, to look for anything else that might possibly tell you something," said Dr. Cyril H. Wecht.  

He is a nationally known forensic pathologist and medical-legal consultant.  

The remains of Joseph McStay, 40, Summer McStay, 43 and their two sons, Gianni, 4 and Joseph Jr. 3, were uncovered this week in the Mojave Desert in Victorville in San Bernardino County.  

Authorities said a motorcyclist found the remains in a shallow grave about one to two feet deep.  

The McStay's disappeared from their Fallbrook home in February 2010 leaving no signs of danger.  

Although the remains have been found it may not lead them to the killers.

"You can't say when they were killed except to say that it has been some time," said Wecht.  

CBS News 8 spoke to Dr. Wecht on the phone in Pennsylvania on Saturday. He had been briefed on the McStay case and believes since investigators said the remains had been in the graves for a while there could not be a way to pinpoint the exact time of death.  

"I must say from a forensic scientific standpoint this is highly unlikely to be a case in which forensic science proves to be of any value," said Wecht.  

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters in a news conference the remains found to be intact but some were scattered from animal activity.  

He said Joseph and Summer's bones were identified through dental records and DNA would identify the boys. However, investigators said they believed the remains found in the second grave are the children.  

"Their [boys] DNA evidence is on file with the Department of Justice and we will be sending that evidence to DOJ for positive confirmation," said McMahon.

There may not be DNA. The McStay's disappeared from their Fallbrook home more than three years ago and Dr. Wecht said depending on the conditions most bones can dry out in a few months.  

"If there is marrow, yes, but if there no bone marrow they can't get DNA," said Wecht. 

The forensic pathologist said the children's bones can tell someone the age and size.  

However, evidence leading them to the killers may have deteriorated.  

"Even if they were to find evidence of a skull fracture from a beating, if they were to find perforations through one or more bones from bullets so what does that tell you? Where does that take you? You are still back at ground zero," said Wecht.  

Investigators did not go into detail about the clothes and other evidence they found in the graves but believes it will lead them to the killers.  

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department started the investigation, since the remains were found in San Bernardino County deputies there are now the lead investigators.  

There have been several theories including the McStays took off to Mexico to start a new life.

The family's Suzuki Trooper was found abandoned in San Ysidro four days after the family disappeared. Investigators with The San Diego County Sheriff's released surveillance video of who they thought was the McStay family walking across the border. That theory has not been proven.

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