McStay murder mystery: Who is Vick Johansen?
Posted: Dec 18, 2013 5:44 PM Updated: Dec 19, 2013 6:59 AM
By David Gotfredson,
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (CBS 8) -- Before Joseph and Summer McStay and their two sons, Gianni and Joey, Jr., went missing from their Fallbrook home in February of 2010, the family lived in the beach community of San Clemente.
The remains of the family of four were discovered buried in the desert near Victorville last month. No one has been arrested and no suspects have been named.
Summer Martelli met Joseph McStay in 2004, when she lived with her boyfriend in the Southern California mountain community of Big Bear Lake.
The boyfriend, an ex-marine named Vick Wyatt Johansen, had purchased the Big Bear home – located at 796 Conklin Road – in 2002 for $226,000, property records show.
Email records obtained by McStay family members indicate that Summer met Joseph McStay and became pregnant with their first son, Gianni, while she was living in Big Bear in 2004.
Johansen added Summer's name to property records associated with the Big Bear Lake home in January 2005. He quit claimed the home to Summer Martelli one year later in January 2006.
Court records reveal Johansen made criminal threats against a neighbor and her 12-year-old daughter in 2004, while Johansen was living in Big Bear with Summer Martelli.
The neighbor, who requested that she not be identified, wrote a description of the 2004 incident in a restraining order declaration obtained by CBS News 8:
On April 20, 2004 I was standing in front of my dining room window facing my driveway when I saw a person with bleached blonde hair pass by and head for my back yard. I went to my sliding window off of my living room and opened the door to see this defendant walking up on my patio deck. He started taking off a dog run leach that he loaned us months ago. It was hooked around two trees next to my deck. As he was up on my patio deck to take the cable off of the trees he was looking at me yelling, "I am going to kill your son" over & over & over. And then said, "I am going to kill you and your daughter." I told him that my son doesn't live here anymore and he said, "You better stay away from my house." As he was going to the other tree to finish taking down the dog run he was shaking a 1 ½ foot metal pipe and yelling, "I am going to kill you, your son and your daughter. I was a Marine and I know how to kill." As he was leaving my back yard he was still yelling, "I am going to kill you, your daughter, and your son" over & over.
In the court papers, the neighbor also described another alleged stalking incident involving Johansen:
My daughter and her two friends were walking down our street and when they walked pass (sic) Vick Johansen's house. He walked out with his dog and followed the girls very closely. As the girls got scared and walked faster, he also walked faster. The girls called me on their cell phone and they were crying & shaking because they were frightened that Vick was going to hurt them.
My son went into the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton – San Diego, CA. Now my 12 year (old) daughter and myself are alone in our house and have to fear that Vick Johansen might keep coming by our house and harassing us. Or he might follow my daughter again while she walks by his house on her way to and from school.
Big Bear Lake sheriff deputies arrested Johansen on April 20, 2004 and he was charged in San Bernardino Superior Court (case # MBV25296) with one misdemeanor count of making criminal threats.
Johansen, at the time age 27, pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge on May 5, 2004 and received probation.
The judge ordered Johansen to attend a 24-week anger management program and served him with the restraining order to keep him away from his neighbor and her children. He was given credit for six days already served in jail.
On June 29, 2004, a judge issued a bench warrant for Johansen's arrest when he failed to enroll in the anger management program, according to court minute orders obtained by CBS News 8. Probation was reinstated on Aug. 12, 2004.
Another bench warrant was issued on Sept. 30, 2004 when Johansen failed to appear in court. Probation was reinstated again on Nov. 30, 2004.
Johansen completed the anger management program on Dec. 15, 2004, according to a report filed with the court.
Over the years, Johansen kept in contact with Summer McStay, even after her marriage to Joseph McStay and the births of their sons, Gianni and Joey, Jr., according to family email records.
"He also swore up and down that she was his soul mate and that she was going to bear his children; and no on else was going to bear his children," said Patrick McStay, Joseph McStay's father.
Johansen wrote this email to Summer in September 2005:
Summer, I am sincerely happy for you and your family, I am proud of you.
I assure you I am a true friend of your family.
You can still call me if you ever need help with anything.
Don't forget about me,
I am still out here.
I genuinely care about your well being, and all those that you love.
Friendship can be the most beautiful of true love.
The trials of life will always reveal the truth.
I believe in you Summer. Don't forget. I truely (sic) believe in you.
Knowing you're out there gives me faith in the world.
Knowing that you are blessed with a child shows me that you're beauty is
blossoming into the world.
All of my heart goes out to you.
He also wrote this email on Dec. 23, 2009, six weeks before the family's disappearance:
I love you for ever.. Happy Birthday Summer.. for ever and ever.. -Vick
To Patrick McStay, the fact that Summer had an old boyfriend contacting her via email was reason for concern.
"Well, he's got a violent background," said Patrick McStay, referring to Johansen's criminal threat conviction.
"If I'm a cop, I'm going to look at this guy seriously. I'm going to run down everything I can about him. Where was he? What was he doing? Who's he associating with? What's going on?" said Patrick McStay.
As it turns out, Johansen had moved from Big Bear Lake to San Clemente by the time the McStay family went missing.
At 1:10 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2010, deputies arrested Johansen on charges of interfering with a business and resisting a peace officer, after he refused to leave the OC Tavern, according to an Orange County jail booking record.
The OC Tavern -- located at 2369 S El Camino Real, San Clemente – is directly next door to an office building that Joseph McStay had leased to operate his fountain business, Earth Inspired Products.
At the time of Johansen's arrest, however, it appears McStay had already moved out of his office at 2377 S El Camino Real, Suite A.
Johansen gave Orange County deputies his address -- in the 200 block of Avenida Lobiero in San Clemente -- when he was booked into jail for the 2010 arrest. The address is about two miles away from the San Clemente home that Joseph and Summer McStay had rented prior to their move to Fallbrook.
The resulting misdemeanor complaint charged Johansen with one count of interfering with a business. "Defendant unlawfully refused to leave the premises of the business establishment after being requested to leave by the owner's agent," the charging document said.
Johansen pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to one year probation, given credit for three days in custody, ordered to stay away from the OC Tavern, and was required to provide a DNA sample, the court records said.
CBS News 8 has been unable to reach Vick Johansen for comment because currently he is incarcerated in the Mono County Jail in Bridgeport, Calif.
Officers arrested Johansen in October on a vandalism charge for allegedly breaking out a door window of a bar in Mammoth Lakes.
A Mono County Superior Court official told CBS News 8 that Johansen, 36, is known as a transient veteran in the small, mountain community.
Johansen's criminal history in Mono County includes a felony vandalism conviction in August 2011, when he destroyed an $800 computer during an altercation with roommates; and a misdemeanor disturbing the peace conviction in June 2013, when he threatened a teller at a Bank of America.
His probation was revoked in July 2013 when Johansen allegedly returned to the same Bank of America branch in violation of a court order.
In 2011, Patrick McStay had urged San Diego County Sheriff Department detectives to investigate Johansen's background; one of many leads they failed to follow, according to the elder McStay.
"The problem with all of this is the San Diego Sheriff's Department never bothered to look into any of this," said Patrick McStay.
Sheriff's officials defended their work in the days following the discovery of the McStay remains, saying a team of detectives spent countless hours on the case.
"We looked at bank records, phone records ... we never stopped investigating the case, never," San Diego Sheriff Spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said.
The murder investigation now has been turned over to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department.