SAN DIEGO -- After three years of fruitless attempts to solve the mysterious disappearance of a family from Fallbrook, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department is shifting responsibility for the case to the FBI.
Sheriff's detectives have investigated "hundreds of tips" about the whereabouts of Joseph and Summer McStay and their young boys Gianni and Joseph Jr., the department said in announcing the move.
One theory, unconfirmed, is that the family slipped into Mexico in February 2010.
"Due to the fact that the family is believed to be out of the country, and because minor children are involved, the primary investigative responsibility for the case is being transferred to the FBI," said a statement prepared by Lt. Glenn Giannantonio of the Sheriff's Department homicide detail.
The FBI, he said, has "significant experience and investigative assets in foreign countries." The Sheriff's Department will play a supporting role in the case
In a website created by McStay's brother, Mike, the family thanked the Sheriff's Department and hailed the shift of responsibility to the FBI.
The Sheriff's Department "has been very supportive throughout this whole ordeal and clearly wants to resolve our missing family person's case," said a posting on the website, www.mcstayfamily.org.
"... My mom and I are happy with [the Sheriff's Department] and are optimistic with the resources that the FBI brings to the table."
Joseph McStay, now 42, his wife, Summer, 45, and their boys Gianni, 6, and Joseph Jr., 5, were last seen in early Febuary 2010.
Investigators found no signs of foul play or any of the usual signs, such as bank records, that would suggest a planned disappearance. Surveillance video seemed to show the family crossing into Mexico, and the family car was found at the border.