Charles Merritt was found guilty on all counts in the murders of the McStay family, it was announced Monday.
The case captivated America: The family — Joseph and Summer McStay and their two sons, 3 and 4 years old — disappeared abruptly from their Fallbrook, California, home in 2010, bowls of popcorn left uneaten and no signs of forced entry.
For years, their disappearance baffled investigators. Surveillance video appeared to show the family crossing the border to Mexico on foot. Their car was found near the border.
Then, in 2014, their bodies were discovered buried in two shallow graves in the desert near Victorville, California, more than 100 miles away.
A year later, Merritt, Joseph's business partner, was arrested and charged with their murders after his DNA was found in the McStay family's car. His cellphone also was traced to where the bodies were found.
Authorities said that Merritt killed the family with a sledgehammer after Joseph attempted to cut him out of their business. Merritt, prosecutors said, had a gambling problem and cashed in on Joseph's business in the days following the family's disappearance, writing checks for tens of thousands of dollars.
Merritt shut his eyes after the verdict was delivered Monday but otherwise showed no emotion.
Now, it will be decided whether he faces the death penalty in the killings.