"I’m going to proceed because I do think there is a real interest in the public knowing what this is all about," said Judge Runston Maino.
The documents were made public at the request of Fox 5 News and several other media organizations.
"It’s important for the public to be able to have access to these search warrants," said Kelly Aviles, Open Government Attorney. "It leads to the public’s understanding how search warrants are handled are issued, how police conduct their investigations."
Aviles represented the media outlets in filing the various motions on the search warrants.
The search warrants were issued between Feb. 19 and Feb. 23, 2010. They show that when investigators entered the McStay's home, they found signs that the family had left in a hurry. A carton of raw eggs was left on the kitchen counter and investigators found half-packed suitcases in the homes.
The documents reveal that Sheriff's Detective Troy Dugal believed from the very beginning that the family had either been kidnapped or killed.
Police who searched their home days after the family disappeared found eggs on the kitchen counter and bowls of popcorn in the living room, along with the family’s two dogs. There were no signs of a struggle.
Joseph and Summer McStay and their two children, 4-year-old Gianni and 3-year-old Joseph Jr., disappeared under mysterious circumstances from their Fallbrook, California, home in February 2010.
Despite finding the family’s SUV in San Ysidro, California — where it had been towed from the Mexican border — and video surveillance that showed a family matching the description of the McStays crossing the border, authorities had no clue what happened to them until the discovery of their bodies on November 11, 2013.
San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies arrested Charles “Chase” Merritt, 57, in Chatsworth on Nov. 5, 2014. Merritt, a former business associate of Joseph McStay, is the only suspect in the case, investigators said.
Investigators determined that all four of the victims were killed at their home in Fallbrook. The cause of death was blunt force trauma, authorities said. Investigators are not disclosing the motive for the murders.
Merritt has a criminal history and has served two prior state prison terms, investigators said.
Aviles said some 60 search warrants remained sealed and there are efforts to unseal them.
"Perhaps that will give us some idea of how this case was handled," said Aviles.