POSTSCRIPT: Obviously, this post was made before the discovery of the bodies of this family, which came as such a horrible shock and grievous "end" to this story. I qualify this idea of ending, because there won't be a true end to this story until the perpetrator(s) is/are apprehended and justice is meted out. And I'm glad that will be in a state with the death penalty in place. I'll leave this earlier post (written while the family's disappearance was still wholly unexplained) as it was for the sake of the particulars and information it contains, even though the speculation therein was proven wrong.
I was fielding comments tonight from people who are just discovering the modern Marie Celeste, the disappearance of the McStay family.
I am convinced they are alive and that they disappeared willingly.
This disappearance has made a bunch of people (and not just the "undisappeared" parts of the McStay family) a ridiculous amount of money at this point. Who knew disappearing is now such a cash cow. I guess it helps if you're a cute family and not just a troubled loner.
And yet. Did you see how PATHETICALLY LOW the REWARD is for the entire missing family?
If that alone doesn't make you skeptical, you must be a pretty broadminded person.
I worked through a variety of theories for the disappearance of this family but found myself ultimately rejecting the most widely held beliefs. I don't believe they're in Witness Protection. I don't believe they were murdered. I don't believe they went down to Mexico that night (and took their children) to make a shady deal that went horribly wrong.
The biggest misconception about these people seems to be that they had limited resources and that they are your average middle class American family. Wrong and wrong. They owned land in South America. Joseph McStay's business got some hugely lucrative contracts right before our economy tanked. Yes, they had declared bankruptcy. But that doesn't mean they didn't have a shitload of cash at their disposal. Even his mother stated how great Joseph was at bankrolling.
Why they disappeared is almost irrelevant if you believe they disappeared willingly and haven't engaged in criminal activity that would warrant their extradition from whatever country they now call home (unless they're back in America, which seems improbable).
If I had to guess which of the various theories I entertained I think is the real reason they vanished, I would stick with the mental illness hypothesis. I believe Summer McStay suffers from mental illness, probably borderline personality disorder. She has exhibited behavior which many think is indicative of criminality. But almost all her erratic behavior (and even her many name changes) is also consistent with mental illness and especially borderline personality disorder. BPD sufferers will often disappear out of the lives of loved ones with no explanation, and they sometimes won't talk to these people for years. They go through phases where they demonize people, even people who have done nothing wrong to them. Perception is reality and for these people it's so much more true.
Anyway, I wanted to share this video about people disappearing in today's climate of hypervigilant monitoring. Just because I found it interesting. I don't believe the McStays are in America. I seriously doubt Mexico was their final destination. I think they initially planned to settle somewhere in South America. I'm sure they didn't count on their story being one of the biggest international media sensations of the twenty-first century.
I'm guessing they've since moved on to Europe or somewhere outside of our hemisphere.
It probably won't help. They will probably eventually be found. Because I get searches on this blog for them every day from not only all overseas anglophone countries, but even most countries where English is not spoken. I get regular searches for them from different African countries. It's so strange which stories end up fascinating the entire world. It's really due to the way a mystery is created, and this is often done by a misrepresentation of facts. This is why P.T. Barnum was so successful and why we still know his name. This is why people believe there is such a phenomenon as "The Bermuda Triangle." Because of the power of misrepresentation. I think we're all gawking at another "Fiji Mermaid."
But I think all four of them are alive and well, if feeling a bit harried and pursued by Furies at this point.
A FINAL NOTE ABOUT THIS VIDEO: This isn't your typical journalistic presentation. The "extreme art" erudition displayed here is wonderful and I love the way the speaker begins this discussion on the paradoxes of privacy with a discursive foray into the world of meta-art, paranoid art and art that does various riffs on privacy-- ranging from "pulling a Cravan" to enacting various self-crucifixions. This is wonderful stuff. Wonderful writing that happens to be spoken rather than written.
It's weird how the same stories obsess us all. Probably the second-most read post on this blog is the one about Lee Cutler. And that ties in to the tragedy of Christopher McCandless. It was that book about McCandless's strange and final journey, Into the Wild, which so infected Lee Cutler with the idea of just taking off, vacating one's life. I had the thought before the interviewer even spoke it when he put up the last photo of McCandless. Why on earth are you taking a picture of yourself smiling when you've nearly starved to death in the wilderness and went there for no discernible earthly reason. He was living out of an abandoned school bus in the Alaskan wild. Amazing Werner Herzog didn't follow the smell of death to that story. Or maybe I just missed that one?
And when the WIRED writer began talking about people who faked their deaths, I knew instantly which stories he was going to mention. The spoiled brat who embezzled millions and then put a plane he was flying on auto-pilot and parchuted out (endangering who knows how many) after sending a fake distress signal was the first story that came to mind. Investigation Discovery has shows that cover all these stories. That one has appeared in more than one incaration. I have to admit I totally disbelieved his wife on the episode of Who the BLEEP Did I Marry? She should be very grateful all those charges were dropped and the public bought her innocent act. But for anyone who studies voice stress, you know when someone's giving you a line of hooey like she does on that show.