Vintage | News | Retro

The True Story of Steven Stayner Still Haunts Residents Of This California Town

You may remember the incredible story of Steven Stayner, the young boy who lived for seven years under the horrible conditions as the captive of child molester.

Steven Stayner was abducted in 1972 when he was just 7 years old by child molester Kenneth Parnell.

Parnell easily convinced young Steven to stay with him by telling the boy that his family did not want him anymore and his parents had given Parnell custody of him.

Steven Stayner and Timmothy WhiteCrime Museum

Steven lived with Parnell as his "son" for seven brutal years where he endured physical and mental abuse at the hands of his new "father." Steven made no attempts to escape until Parnell kidnapped another young boy, named Timothy White.

Knowing what a monster Parnell truly was, Steven decided that he couldn't let Timothy endure the same fate. So, on the night of March 1, 1980, when Parnell was at work, Steven took Timothy and hitch hiked into the town of Ukiah, California.

14-year-old Steven StaynerMerced Sun-Star

At first, no one could believe what they were seeing, but as the boys told their story, police knew they had to act fast.

The next morning on March 2, 1980, Parnell was arrested on suspicion of abduction. After a background check, police discovered he had a previous sodomy conviction from 1951.

Although both children were reunited with their families, justice never was complete. Parnell was tried and convicted of kidnapping, where he received a sentence of seven years, but was paroled after 5 years.

Kenneth ParnellThe Despot

Regarding the charges of sexual assaults, prosecuters declined to accuse Parnell of rape and molestation because they believed they were "protecting" the boys.

At the time, rape and molestation victims were seen as "damaged goods."

Five years later, Steven married 17-year-old Jody Edmondson. Although having a family of his own helped him to find some peace, he continued to blame himself for being abducted. The couple had two children, Ashley and Steven, Jr.

On September 17, 1989, Steven was struck by a car when he was driving home on his motorcycle. He suffered fatal head injuries and died at the Merced Community Medical Center. Three days later, 500 people attended Steven's funeral, including Timothy White, who stood as one of his pallbearers, he was 14 years old.

On August 28, 2010, a statue of Stayner and White was unveiled in Applegate Park in Merced, California.

Although the boys got the happiest ending available to them at the time, many people still can't help but wonder if a harsher punishment should have been awarded to Parnell.

Who else remembers the story of Steven Stayner's brave decision to save Timmothy White?

[h/t Wikipedia / The Richest]

Related Articles