Update: this article was originally posted on November 15, 2013. On November 8, 2014, authorities arrested and charged a man, Charles “Chase” Merritt, with the murders of the McStay family. That story is here. The text that follows is how this article originally read upon its initial posting. This is the last word I will have on the McStay case, as they are no longer missing persons. Thanks to everyone for reading.

Last night media outlets began reporting that skeletal remains had been found in the desert near Victorville, California that authorities believed might be the missing McStay family, about whom I wrote a lengthy article in August. Today, November 15, that suspicion has been made official: the bones are the McStays, at least the husband and wife, Joseph and Summer, with another set of skeletal remains believed to be their children, Gianni and Joseph Jr. Evidently they were found by motorcyclists off-roading in a remote area. The L.A. Times online has a story on the grim discovery here.

The McStays vanished mysteriously from their Fallbrook, California home in February 2010, and until yesterday were well on their way to becoming possibly the most famous missing persons case of the 21st century so far. A video taken at a border crossing into Mexico was thought to show the McStays–and their car was found on the U.S. side of the border not far away–but now it appears they may not have gone to Mexico at all, although no one knows for sure. What was a missing persons investigation is now a murder case.

My condolences and prayers go out to the relatives and friends of the McStays. It’s just horrifying to contemplate what happened to them, and, while I’m glad there is at least some limited closure for the family, efforts must now turn toward bringing their murderers to justice.