In 2010, police were looking for Joseph McStay, 40, Summer McStay, 43, and their two boys Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3. The family’s corpses were discovered in two shallow graves in the middle of the California desert three years after they went missing. When Charles “Chase” Merritt was imprisoned for the murders in 2019, he was accused of murdering Joseph McStay’s family. Merritt was a trusted confidant and business associate of the McStays. The prosecution presents evidence that Merritt murdered the McStay family, but Merritt maintains his innocence.
Thanks to exclusive interviews with members of Merritt’s defence and prosecution teams, the book Two Shallow Graves will provide a new context for the controversial murder trial that made headlines worldwide. Three episodes of Two Shallow Graves will premiere on ID (Investigation Discovery) on Sunday, May 22, at 9:00 PM ET. Discovery+ will host episodes on the same day they air on television.
How was it that Charles “Chase” Merritt knew the McStays?
On February 15, 2010, the McStay family disappeared from their California home. Joseph McStay’s business partner Charles Chase Merritt was charged with the family’s murders when police uncovered evidence of abandonment and foul play. A motorcyclist on a detour in the California desert in November 2013 came upon a little human skull, which led to the discovery of two shallow graves containing the McStays’ bodies. After that, the police stopped looking for missing people and began investigating a suspected murder.
After a year, Merritt was finally arrested for the murders of his family when his DNA was found in the abandoned family car near the border, and fake corporate checks were linked to him, until discovering a troubling sign that pointed them in the direction of Charles “Chase” Merritt, a close friend and business colleague of Joseph McStay’s. The investigators were at a loss. According to rumours, Joseph and Rachel met through his successful Earth Inspired Products ornamental fountain company. Joseph enlisted Merritt’s help, a fabricator, to expand his custom business.
What happened to Charles “Chase” Merritt, and where is he now?
Merritt was sentenced to life and the death penalty on January 21, 2020. From the day of his arrest till now, he has been locked up at Quentin State Prison, where he is on death row. Once it was discovered that he had fired numerous attorneys, his trial did not begin until January 2019. The jury reached a verdict finding the defendant guilty on all counts. Based on their findings, detectives have concluded that Merritt is responsible for the disappearance of the McStay family in February 2010 and the subsequent theft of funds from the business’ bank account.
Susan, Joseph’s mother, was reportedly visibly distressed and branded him as a “despicable, terrible creature,” saying that knowing how her family was slaughtered had made her life a nightmare. ID’s Two Shallow Graves will premiere on May 22, 2022, and tell the horrible story of the McStay family murders and the contentious trial of Charles “Chase” Merritt.