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Suspect Arrested In 2010 Killing Of Family Of 4 In California

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Police in San Bernardino County today announced their arrest of a suspect in the murder of Joseph McStay, his wife and two young sons, whose bodies were found in shallow graves in the California desert in 2013, four years after their mysterious disappearance.

Charles "Chase" Merritt, 57, described by authorities as a business associate of the family, was arrested on Oct. 5 in Victorville, Calif., about 85 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border where the bodies were found on Nov. 11, 2013, police said.

The San Diego Union-Tribune says:

"The skeletal remains of McStay, 40, and his wife, Summer, 43, and their two young sons, Gianni, 4, and Joey Jr., 3, were discovered in November 2013 in a pair of shallow graves in the San Bernardino County desert near Victorville. The family had been missing for more than three years.

"The family mysteriously disappeared from their Fallbrook home Feb. 4, 2010. Four days later, their Isuzu Trooper was towed as an abandoned vehicle from a San Ysidro parking lot near the U.S.-Mexico border crossing.

"Summer was a licensed real estate agent and her husband worked at a water-feature business. When their home was searched, a carton of eggs and a rotten banana were found on the kitchen counter and their dogs were in the backyard without food or water."

Sheriff John McMahon said an investigation shows that the parents and the two children died as a result of blunt force trauma at their home in the San Diego County community of Fallbrook.

McMahon gave few other details. He said Merritt is due in court later today to face four counts of murder.

The McStay case was the subject of national news reports and was featured on programs such as America's Most Wanted.

In December, reported that Merritt was being scrutinized by authorities and that he'd been interviewed by police shortly after the bodies of the McStay family were found last year.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.