Southern California man convicted of killing family found in desert

California

SAN BERNARDINO (AP) — A Southern California man has been convicted of killing a family of four and burying their bodies in the desert.

Jurors on Monday found 62-year-old Charles “Chase” Merritt guilty of four counts of first-degree murder in the bludgeoning deaths of his business associate Joseph McStay, McStay’s wife, Summer, and the couple’s 3- and 4-year-old sons.

The family vanished from their San Diego County home in 2010, puzzling investigators.

Three years later, their bodies were found in shallow graves in the desert.

Merritt was arrested in 2014.

Prosecutors say Merritt killed McStay out of greed at a time when he owed McStay money and was being cut out of the business.

Authorities said they traced Merritt’s cellphone to the area of the gravesites and to a call seeking to close McStay’s online bookkeeping account.

Merritt’s attorneys said authorities zeroed in on an innocent man but the evidence doesn’t add up.

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