TODAY   |  November 16, 2013

Remains of missing family found in Calif. desert

In California, the discovery of four bodies has ended a four-year search for a missing family. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> there are more questions than answers this morning in the case of a california family who had been missing for years. now after four years, the remains were recently discovered in a california desert. investigators must now figure out not only how they got there, but how they died. miguel almaguer has the story.

>> reporter: the four bodies discovered in the desert outside los angeles ends the nearly four-year search for the mcstay family and begins a homicide investigation. for relatives like mike mcstay , hope is now gone.

>> it's not really the -- the outcome we were looking for.

>> reporter: detectives have positively identified joseph and summer mcstay and two boys gianni and joseph, were shallow shallowly in a grave. they disappeared from their home in early 2010 and detectives say there was no sign of any struggle.

>> i'm having so much fun.

>> reporter: the mcstay 's car was discovered days after they disappeared near mexico. police even released video of what appears to be a family crossing border but every lead, a dead end .

>> whether or not they actually crossed the border and then came back, we are not sure yet.

>> reporter: with the trail cold, it was a passer-by who discovered skeletal remains in victorville this week.

>> it gives us courage to know they are together and they are in a better place.

>> reporter: near four years after they vanished, the mcstay 's bodies have been recovered but the mystery in the desert is far from over. for "today," miguel almaguer, nbc news, los angeles .