Later that day, Joseph apparently called Merritt to discuss their latest project – a fountain for a client in Saudi Arabia. Then, at around 8:30 p.m., Joseph’s cellphone was used to call Merritt again. According to Merritt, he was watching a film and chose not to answer his partner’s call.
After that, Joseph went silent. Over the coming days, family and friends of the McStays attempted to contact the family, but with no success. Then, on February 9 – five days after Joseph had last been seen – his father received an email from Merritt.
According to a 2011 article on PEOPLE.com, the email expressed concern for the McStays’ wellbeing. “I haven’t heard from Joe,” it read. “He’s not answering the phone; he’s not answering texts. It isn’t like Joe. Can you get back to me?” Finally, the authorities were alerted.