There was an article in our newspaper Friday which brought back a flood of memories for me.
This is the headline that caught my attention-Last survivor of California kidnapping saga dies at 35. The victim was Timothy White. He was the youngest victim and last survivor of a widely reported California kidnapping. Mr. White died of an apparent pulmonary embolism. Timothy was five when he was kidnapped while walking home from school in 1980, by child molester Kenneth Parnell. I remember it because of the Steven Stayner story.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the story. Parnell abducted Steven Stayner in 1972 from Merced CA. At that time I was living in Hornitos CA, a very small rural community a short distance from Merced. I didn’t know the Stayner family personally, but had friends who did. Fear absolutely gripped every parent and we all started watching our children a lot closer. These kinds of things weren’t supposed to happen in our backyard.
Two weeks after White was abducted, Steven Stayner, who had been kidnapped by Parnell seven years earlier, escaped with White from the remote location where they were being held and hitchhiked to safety. Stayner was 14 at the time.
Stayner, who only could remember his first name when he escaped from Parnell, was reunited with his family in Merced, California. He was killed in a motorcycle crash nine years later in 1989.
Parnell served only five years in prison for the kidnapping and molestation of Stayner and White. He died in 2008 at age 76 while serving a life sentence for trying to purchase a 4-year-old boy for $500 in Berkeley, California.
Steven’s brother, Cary Stayner, is on death row in San Quentin for the murders of four women in Yosemite National Park in 1999.
My heart has always ached for the families of these two victims. The heartache and the tragedy are unimaginable.
My prayers are with their families and I ask that you will remember them in your prayers too.