My interview of Cathy Russon About Her Visit to the McStay Family Burial Site on Law & Crime Network. So sad!
Law & Crime’s Cathy Russon Discusses Her Visit to the McStay Family Burial Site
January 16th, 2019
Robert Bianchi: Welcome back to Law and Crime Network, my name is Bob Bianchi. I’ll be with you till four o’clock. Well like, I promised before the break, we’re going to have something very special, as you know, we just did the little spot on the Mojave Desert by Cathy Russon, and it’s one thing to see her on film but it’s another thing to see Cathy Russon in person. Cathy, welcome to the show.
Cathy Russon: Hi Bob.
Robert Bianchi: How are you doing?
Cathy Russon: Just great.
Robert Bianchi: Okay, so Cathy let’s go to the Mojave Desert thing first, since we just played that. I say to the audience all the time, it’s one thing to antiseptically be listening to something in a court room and a completely different thing when you go out to that kind of burial site, what was your feeling like?
Cathy Russon: Eerie, bad, I felt really sad. What gets me the most as a mom is that at the bottom of the crosses, what you can see on the screen right now, of the boys, there’s toys, there’s a toy truck. There’s like a SpongeBob and a sippy cup, and that just, it made me really sad.
Robert Bianchi: Is that something to your knowledge that grave site that we just saw, is that going to be maintained or is that just up there, you know, randomly? I mean do people tend to it?
Cathy Russon: Well, somebody must because it’s been up there since, not shortly after the remains were discovered, so that’s been quite a few years now. I don’t know the logistics behind that, it was actually like community supporters and friends that erected that and Mike McStay went on the scene, but it wasn’t really done by the family.
Robert Bianchi: Okay, Cathy, let’s go back to the courtroom, myself and Gene Rossi have been commenting about a couple things, I want to talk about that sergeant that testified, having gone in there, eventually into the home for a welfare check, didn’t notice anything quote unquote arise. Well said at first, but then when he had to explain to the prosecutor why was he contacting the homicide prosecutors, he explained that families just don’t disappear, leave their food, the dogs, you know, not having eaten. Is the process, is the defense scoring points here that this investigation was botched.
Cathy Russon: Oh, absolutely, I mean I think that it’s pretty obvious especially also with today’s testimony. But when sergeant Tingley testified, you know, he got called for a welfare check and Mike McStay met him there and he allowed Mike to go around the back, enter through a window, and then come around and let him in. Just that alone I thought was strange because this isn’t the owner of the house, sure it’s the brother of the owner but you don’t know their relationship but he allowed him to go in and the two of them are in there and Tingley just took like six photos, was all. But because the carton of eggs was out on the counter, and there was food on the plate, two popcorn bowls on the couch, it didn’t it didn’t look to him like they just went on vacation. And so, that is why he didn’t see anything, there’s no blood, no signs of violent act that happened, nothing at all. But he contacted the homicide unit because a family of four just doesn’t walk away with their breakfast still on the counter.
Robert Bianchi: And leaving their dogs unattended. Or their dogs aren’t taken care of, or are their children presumably at school, a family just up and gone. But then they put the testimony on of the friend of Summer and Joseph, who was actually working at their house, where there was everything in plans to continue to remodel the house. I mean boy, doesn’t this seem more like an abduction to you rather than a family that just decided to take a trip out to Mexico, and start a new life.
Cathy Russon: I mean it definitely, definitely, definitely, looks like that. It doesn’t look like they would, that would be more like if they had to flee the country, run out of the house, leave everything out, you know, and there’s no evidence at all to suggest that there that they would have any reason to do that. The friend today, the interesting thing that he said, which you know we all picked up on, when the mother Susan Blake testified, is he went over there one of the days that Susan was in the house. She was cleaning the kitchen up, which she testified about before, she said she got permission from the detective to go in and do that because she wanted to throw away the food. It was rotting it all smelled horrible and take the garbage out. He said he got there, and he said to her, oh you’re cleaning, so is this like no longer being investigated? And he was worried that she was cleaning.
Robert Bianchi: Yeah, we commented on that, that he had better investigative instincts than the people that are paid to do that professionally. Cathy really quick, I’ve been kind of fixated on this third-party guilt piece with Dan Cavanaugh. The judge precluded that information despite, we read the text messages and the very angry exchange between him and the father, you know, where they’re basically saying now, we know what you’re like, and the kids know what you’re like, and Summer knows. Why wasn’t it, to your knowledge, because usually third-party guilt claims if anywhere near possibly substantiated are allowed in court, why did the court disallow it in your mind? Does it make a big difference that the defense is not getting it out, they’re trying, but the judge is stopping it.
Cathy Russon: I don’t know why specifically he’s not allowing some, he’s allowing some again about Dan Cavanaugh, but not those messages. And I’m trying to get my hands on today, the motion and limiting and the judge’s order on that, so we can get some more details on it but they talked about a little bit today. After they sent the jury and was out on break, they actually just briefly talked about it, we didn’t have a camera on. The defense wanted to get in with McCarver, wanted to get in a conversation that this MacGyver said him and Joseph had about Dan Cavanaugh. And that he’s told that to the police, so it was in the police report that MacGyver told the police that he talked to Joseph and Joseph was trying to get rid of Dan Cavanaugh. He didn’t want him in the business anymore, and he was trying to buy him out and may have been close to buying him out, and that MacGyver said to Joseph, well, you know that that’s not going to go well. You know how he is, you know his temper. Well, that’s not going to come in now. That’s what was told to the place but now there’s some hearsay in there but the defense was arguing, no this is what MacGyver himself said he said to Joseph McStay. So, that’s not hearsay if you can say that line and the judge won’t allow it.
Robert Bianchi: Wow, Cathy, you know, we always talk about trying the case to be successful on Appeal, and for Gene and myself, there have been some rulings right now that jeopardize the potential of conviction. Now, let me ask you, when you’re in that court room, we all do this, we’re all gaming the case. A very well lawyered case on both sides from what we can see. But what is the over under right now on whether or not the state’s meeting its burden or if the defense is really doing some damage here?
Cathy Russon: I try to look at it from the jury’s point of view, I know too much and I’ve been doing this too long to not have some sort of opinion. So, I try to look at it from their point of view. I still think it looks weak, the prosecution is doing a good job on the checks are made out to Charles Merritt and then deleted, and then he cashed them anyway, and they were back dated. You know, there’s things like that and that they think they say that’s the truck on the video that night, but the difference is going to come right back at that. So, as of right now, I think there’s reasonable doubt.
Robert Bianchi: Yeah, and let’s not forget that one thing that the judge is allowing in is Cavanaugh, not the statements, but that he was doing some stuff with money as well with a PayPal account as I understand, so that will.
Cathy Russon: Oh, one other thing, one other thing that they talked about when he wanted to bring in that statement, they said no. The judge will allow the defense, he said he would allow them to at least bring out that MacGyver knew that Dan Cavanaugh sold the business.
Robert Bianchi: Right, right well listen Cathy, thank you so much. I see that the weather is not necessarily cooperating but you did a great job, and thanks so much for all the data that you’re giving us here at Law and Crime. And we’ll catch you soon.
Cathy Russon: Thanks Bob.
Robert Bianchi: Okay, you take care.