Cary Stayner

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Family and early life

Related article: Steven Stayner

Living with his uncle

Cedar Lodge employment

Yosemite murders

Main article: Yosemite murders

Confession to FBI

Federal and state trials


Family background

Drug ring connection

See also


External links

Steven Stayner abduction

  • TODO: move to dedicated Steven Stayner and Kenneth Parnell pages
  • New York Times, "BOY, 6, MAY BE KEY WITNESS IN COAST ABDUCTION TRIAL", 1981/06/18: "Six-year-old Timmy White may be a key witness as the prosecution unfolds its case, possibly beginning this week, against Kenneth Eugene Parnell, a 49-year-old drifter and convicted sex offender accused of kidnapping the boy. [...] Mr. Parnell, who was arrested at his job as night clerk at a Ukiah hotel, is also charged with kidnapping Steven, and will be tried at a later date. In the Stayner matter, he is also charged with false imprisonment and with conspiracy to kidnap, falsely imprison and contribute to the delinquency of a minor. [...] If convicted in the Timmy White case, where he is charged only with kidnapping, Mr. Parnell could be sentenced to a maximum of seven years. If convicted on all the charges in the Stayner case, he could get a maximum of 11 years. He had previously been charged with conspiracy to commmit sex offenses in the Stayner case, but a State Court of Appeal threw out that charge as no longer timely. [...] In 1951, at the age of 19, he was convicted of abducting and molesting an eight-year-old boy and served four years in San Quentin. He told a psychiatrist that he was abandoned by his father when he was five, and that by the time he was nine had often considered killing himself. At 13, he maintained, he was the victim of a homosexual rape. Mr. Parnell was paroled in 1955, but was returned to San Quentin briefly for a parole violation, and released in 1956. After his first release, in 1955, he registered as a convicted sex offender, as mandated by law, in Kern County."
  • Law enforcement cover-up
    • Commenters on Tom Lokovic, "I can't believe this story keeps going", 2003/01/07: "Actually, Parnell only served 3.5 years, and got out "on good behavior." He was given 7 years for kidnapping Timmy, and 1.5 years for kidnapping Steven. He was never charged with any of the over 3,000 sexual assaults on Steven,or any of the other boys (friends and acquaintances of Steven's) who were reportedly sodomized by him. This was decided by Mendocino County's lead investigator after he recieving detailed accounts of 87 specific incidents of sexual abuse reported by Steven and dictated by Merced police, and receiving at least a dozen more sworn statements from other boy victims as well as scores of pornographic pictures that had been taken of Steven and several of his friends by Parnell. Instead, the lead investigator, Finn decided to keep the evidence locked up in his own PERSONAL FILE CABINET, and reported to his boss that there was really no evidence, and he didn't think it fair to subject Steven to questioning of his horrific abuses! The Merced police department was outraged, and pressed the issue, but since the crimes were out of their jurisdiction, they had no power to do anything about this. It is a true shame and a real slap in the face to Steven that the legal system refused him the justice he deserved, letting Parnell off the hook for raping Steven all those years. If Finn really wanted to protect Steven, he would have pursued and punished that monster pedophile to show Steven that we took his pain and suffering very seriously. Those specific 87 sexual assaults that Steven so bravely recounted would have meant a life sentence for Parnell, and safety for the future children that Parnell ended up contacting upon his release. (He worked at a school for troubled boys, and babysat for local kids upon his release.)"
  • Kenneth Parnell background
    • Connection to Daniel Marvin Yert - a manager of a Los Angeles data processing firm and a child pornographer who was once swept up in the operation that exposed Guy Strait and Billy Byars Jr. of DOM-Lyrc
      • San Francisco Examiner, "Twisted love: portrait of Kenneth Parnell", 1980/03/06 (pages 1, 6): "Among Parnell's cache of old clothes, magazines, books and letters were other telling items. One was an old phone bill containing a record of a call made three years ago to a Garden Grove business ran by a man named Daniel M. Yert, who Miller identified as one of the nation's major peddlers of child pornography. He currently is imprsioned at San Luis Obispo, and through an intermediary told The Examiner he had never heard of any Kenneth Parnell."
    • Work for the Curry Company - the largest concessions operator in Yosemite National Park, participants in a drug distribution network within Mariposa County CA, and a subsidiary of MCA Inc. (formerly Music Corporation of America) which was connected to Ronald Reagan and organized crime
      • From p.38-39 of I Know My First Name Is Steven by Mike Echols (1989, 1999): "Opening the door, Murph discovered his peculiar bespectacled friend, Kenneth Eugene Parnell, smiling furtively as he huddled against the cold. Ken, the Curry Company's night auditor at Yosemite Lodge, a slightly stooped, introverted, self-taught bookkeeper—with no other friends among his fellow employees—and Murph, who made friends with any and all he met, were two of the oddest out of the collection of social misfits, ex-felons, and alcoholics who then made up the bulk of the Curry Company's Yosemite employees."
      • From p.212 of The Yosemite Murders by Dennis McDougal (1999): "When he filled out his application with the Curry Company, which operated concessions within the National Park, he neglected to mention his career as a felon, a convicted sex offender, and a mental patient, and apparently, the Curry Company never checked. In May of 1972, he was offered the night auditor's position at Yosemite Lodge. There he met Ervin Murphy and cooked up his scheme to hit the streets of Merced and select himself a son."
    • East Bay Express, "Inside the Monster" by Katy St. Clair, 2000/09/15: pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Parental complicity
    • Commenters on Tom Lokovic, "I can't believe this story keeps going", 2003/01/07: "I would like to know if anyone knows anything about the Stayner parents. It seams very suspect to me that Parnell is now being tried for trying to "buy" a boy but he "snatched" Steven off the street in 72? He reportedly told Steven that his parents "couldn't afford to raise him anymore" Now that Cary has turned out to be a pedophile ( which could be the result of a vampiric effect ) I want to know if anyone has really checked out the parents. Perhaps Steven was really sold?!?!? I just wonder.... did all the perps pay in this one?"
    • Seattle Times, "A child abductee’s journey back", 2007/01/20 - shows that his father didn't treat him that well upon his return: "Steven was reunited with his family and became a hero. But the transition back to normal life was tough.

      “He got on with his life,” his sister, Cory Stayner, of Merced, Calif., said in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But he was pretty messed up and he never got any counseling. My dad said he didn’t need any.”

      Steven, teased by other kids for having been molested, eventually dropped out of school. He also drank, suppressing any true feelings about what had occurred, his sister said.

      He struggled with his family and was even ordered out of the house.

      “I returned almost a grown man and yet my parents saw me at first as their 7-year-old,” he said in the Newsweek story. “After they stopped trying to teach me the fundamentals all over again, it got better. But why doesn’t my dad hug me anymore? I guess seven years changed him, too.

      “Everything has changed. Sometimes I blame myself. I don’t know sometimes if I should have come home. Would I have been better off if I didn’t?”"
    • Miniseries Marathon, "I Know My First Name is Steven (1989)", 2011/04/21 - has a disturbing quote by Cary and Steven's grandfather, whom Dave McGowan says "was universally described as an exceptionally cruel man" and lived "just a few hundred yards" away from the Yosemite Lodge where Parnell worked: "The Stayner household is not the happiest, but they do care. Despite the grandfather’s claim that “at least when we had a litter of puppies we drowned the runts,” referring to the fact that he feels his daugther has too many kids, Mom is worried about Steven at school without his muffler."
    • Commenter "Roths Child" on the Opperman video: "I wish I could remember the source, but years ago I remember hearing that the Stayner parents were somehow involved in a deeply entrenched network of child slavery and that Parnell either bought or was rewarded with Steven and that his brother Cary is a scapegoat and innocent of the murders he sits on death row for. Strangely enough, in 2003, Parnell was arrested for trying to buy another child.

      Anyway, there are just too many coincidences and death for this story not to be part of something much bigger. For instance, aside from the fact that practically everyone involved in this case has died, both Timmy White and Echols died of pulmonary embolism. What are the odds?"
  • Mike Echols involvement
    • From p.243-244 of The Yosemite Murders by Dennis McDougal (1999):

          "I have his book, but I will not open it," said Kay Stayner. "I don't know why I keep it around. That man is despicable."
          While understandably fractured and dysfunctional in any number of ways, all of the Stayners remain unified on the twin subjects of the television version of I Know My First Name Is Steven versus the book that Echols wrote. While it took some dramatic license, the miniseries was excellent and evenhanded, they believe. The book, however, which dwelled on the most lurid details of Parnell's perverse sexual appetites and Steven's forced submission, was pornographic, according to several family members. Steven's wife Jody (whom he married in 1985), who does not see eye to eye with Kay and Delbert on most things, agreed with their assessment of Echols as "despicable." She described the reading of Echols's book as the kind of experience that makes the reader want to shower immediately after finishing it. She was pleased to participate in the making of the TV miniseries, however.
  • Untimely death of Steven
    • Associated Press, "Steven Stayner, Who Escaped 7-Year Captivity, Dead In Crash", 1989/09/17: "″He sure led a rough life,″ California Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Balestra said of Stayner, who was returned to his parents less than 10 years ago and was the subject of an NBC miniseries in May, titled ″I Know My First Name Is Steven.″ Balestra said Stayner, 24, married and the father of two children, was killed Saturday when a car pulled into the path of his motorcycle on a highway between Merced and Atwater, some 70 miles east of San Francisco. Balestra said officers believe they knew the identity of the driver of the car, who abandoned his car two miles away, jumped into another car and fled. He said felony hit-run charges were planned. [...] Kenneth Parnell, arrested while working as a hotel clerk in Ukiah, 150 miles from Merced, was convicted of two counts of kidnapping. He was sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison in February 1982 after a sensational 18-day trial in Hayward. [...] Parnell served five years in prison, then was paroled for another two years. Released from parole, Parnell, now 57, is believed living somewhere in northern California. He had previously been imprisoned for sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy he kidnapped in Bakersfield. While no sex charges were filed against Parnell, Stayner testified at Parnell’s trial that he was ordered to call Parnell ″dad″ during his captivity and that he was regularly sexually abused. He said they lived in California motels and trailer parks during the period. He said Parnell convinced him a court had awarded him custody because Stayner’s family could no longer afford him."
    • Associated Press, "Ex-victim of kidnapping dies in crash", 1989/09/??
    • People, "A Hit-and-Run Crash Ends the Life of Kidnap Victim Steven Stayner", 1989/10/02
    • Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, "Reunification of Missing Children Training Manual" - makes this unclear comment: "Steven Stayner died in 1989 on a highway outside of Merced, when the motorcycle he was riding collided with a car pulling onto the highway. The driver of the car left the scene of the accident without notifying authorities or rendering aid. He contacted his family from Mexico, and was persuaded by them to return to tum himself in to U.S. authorities. The driver surrendered to police at the U.S. - Mexico border and was returned to Merced on the day of Steven's funeral. He pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of hit -and-run driving and a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter. There was speculation in the press, by the officer who investigated the scene of the accident, when he pulled his car out on to the highway."
    • Serial Killer Calendar, "THE STAYNER FAMILY TRAGEDIES" by Martin Shell: "Steven died tragically on September 17th, 1989 when his Kawasaki motorcycle collided (he wasn’t wearing a helmet as someone stole his in July or August of 1989) into a stalled vehicle driven by an illegal alien from Mexico, 28-YO migrant worker Antonio Loera. He left behind his wife Jody Edmondson whom he married in 1985 and their two little children 3-YO Ashley and 2-YO Steven Jr. Those who research the abduction of Steven Stayner will be thunderstruck by how little justice he received for his life (and family) being ruined by a wretched paedophile. Kenneth Parnell only served 5 of the paltry 8 years he was sentenced to for the abduction and seven-year molestation of Steven Stayner (his cohort in the illegal act, Ervin Murphy served only 2 years of a 5-year sentence) and Antonio Loera only served 90 days in jail with 1 year of probation (and a measly $100. fine) for killing Steven. Steven’s wife Jody hired famed San Francisco lawyer of ZODIAC Killer fame, Mr. Melvin Belli “The King of Torts”, to sue Merced County for $5 million dollars for the poor road conditions. Why was justice not served properly to Steven Stayner at any stage and was anyone ever outraged? I certainly was in researching his sad case. Why wasn’t the disgusting woman named Barbara Mathias ever brought in for crimes of child rape and aiding and abetting a filthy, paedo kidnapper? She lived with the freak Parnell and Steven Stayner for 18 months and had sex with Parnell and under-aged Steven while Parnell was raping Steven. Her own abused and neglected children were raped by Paedo Parnell. I know hardly anyone paid a steep price for killing the soul of the young Steven Stayner but this pervy and down-low pig of a chick got off scot-free. The Steven Stayner case is one of the most disgusting cases one will come across and the lack of justice and the velvet glove treatment given to his abusers will just make you want to projectile vomit. It’s a top to bottom disgrace!"
    • Crazy Days And Nights, "Blind Items Revealed #20", 2018/07/05 (clarifying "Today's Blind Items - First Kills", 2018/02/19): "This serial killer has admitted to almost a handful of killings. They were pretty famous at the time they happened. The thing is though, those are not the only kills he is responsible for. There are at least two more. One of the kills was of someone who had a number one best selling book and the subject of a very highly rated made for television movie. The serial killer made it look like an accident, did a crappy job if it, but still got away with it. His second kill was of a relative who molested the serial killer. Everyone assumed the serial killer was responsible, but no one could admit it. Recently, the serial killer has been telling his story to a couple of inmates who have been sharing it to others and now new charges could be brought against the serial killer."
  • Other untimely deaths linked to the case
    • New York Times, "Timothy White, Victim of a Notorious 1980 Kidnapping, Dies at 35", 2010/04/10
    • Serial Killer Calendar, "THE STAYNER FAMILY TRAGEDIES" by Martin Shell
      • "Mike Echols (whose birthday was also on April Fool’s Day (1944), the day Tim White died in 2010) also died of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 58 on January 10th, 2003 while in jail. He was the author of the manuscript for the 1989 infamous TV movie about Steven’s hellish plight (“I Know My First Name Is Steven”) which was later published as a book in 1991. Echols was distrusted by some because he worked to expose paedos but many people believed he himself was a closet one. He infiltrated “NAMBLA” (North American Man-Boy Love Association) and started “Better A Millstone” an anti-paedophile organization. In researching the grievous fate of the Stayners, I noticed many people were critical of Mike Echols and the way he wrote his tome on Steven. Many complained that the passages on the abuse Steven faced were too graphic. Many accused the author of doing so as a way to delight in crypto child-porn. I disagreed at first because my take on it was he was trying to illustrate the repugnant abuse Steven endured. Now, I seriously question that because in the end Mike Echols seems to self-destruct in a way that seems almost too hard to believe in retrospect. He seemed to only fuel people’s accusations that he was indeed a closet paedo by the child porn he would expose and his trouble with Law Enforcement seemed to always involve indecent exposure, “mooning” and genital exposing episodes. Echols."
      • "One private detective whose site is long defunct found a series of micro-patterns in the proximity of the hot-bed area of the “Smiley Face Killer” cases. He claimed to have found a series of deaths that spelled out a name. The name spelled was NEMEC and that word was used because the child actor who played Steven Stayner in the TV Movie “I Know My First Name Is Steven” was Corin Nemec. The name “NEMEC” spells out the towns in Wisconsin and Minnesota where the inebriated college men vanished from or ended up dead in a body of water. It always struck me as very weird and a bit absurd because I could never figure out who would remember Corin Nemec except another child who was perhaps a fan at the time the tv movie was making headlines and why would someone orchestrate killings to spell out his last name? It is indeed a strange tie to the already strange and tragic tale of the Family Stayner. Here is what the acronym “NEMEC” stood for RE: the 2002 “SFK” crimes…

        New London, MN-8/1/2002—Daniel Lee Newville (18)

        Eau Claire, WI-9/29/2002—Craig Burrows (23)

        Minneapolis, MN-10/31/2002—Christopher Jenkins (21)

        Eau Claire, WI-11/6/2002—Michael Noll (22)

        Collegeville, MN-11/9/2002—Joshua Cheney Guimond (21) NEVER FOUND!"

Life background

  • Pedophilia in the Stayner family
    • There were signs in the Yosemite murders investigation that Cary was a pedophile. Following his arrest, he bartered with the FBI interrogators to offer a confession in exchange for child pornography, expressing a deep desire to see it. Witnesses told Stephen Sanzeri and others that Cary could only be aroused by underage girls.
    • San Francisco Chronicle, "Overshadowed All His Life / Low-key Cary Stayner took back seat to kidnapped brother", 1999/07/30: "[Victoria] Flores-Tatum remembers encountering a different side of Stayner. When she was 14 and Stayner was 16, she went to a sleepover held by one of his sisters. Flores-Tatum said Stayner crept under her cot as she slept and reached up to touch her breasts. After she told him to go away, she said, he reappeared in the doorway, naked. She said she told him to go away a second time, and this time he did."
    • Cary's defense argument revealed a deep history of child sexual abuse within the Stayner family. Cary was molested by his uncle at a young age, perhaps the same one who he lived with and was later found shot to death. His father Delbert Stayner molested his sisters in 1986, leading state authorities to order Delbert into therapy.
    • The endemic pedophilia within the Stayner family calls to question whether Ken Parnell might have actually told Steven Stayner the truth when he said that Steven's parents (one of whom, Delbert, was confirmed to be a pedophile) had sold him. Indeed, Parnell would later be arrested in 2003 for trying to purchase a child.

Drug ring association

  • Background with marijuana distribution
    • Los Angeles Times, "Man Is Suspect in Both Yosemite Murder Cases", 1999/07/26: "Stayner, a muscular 6-foot-1 man who often wore a baseball cap and frequented a nude beach just down the Merced River from El Portal, had only one prior arrest. Authorities say he was arrested in 1997 for possession of marijuana for sale."
    • San Francisco Chronicle, "Overshadowed All His Life / Low-key Cary Stayner took back seat to kidnapped brother", 1999/07/30: "BREAKDOWN: In 1995, while working at Merced Glass and Mirror, Cary Stayner tells a co-worker that he thinks he is having a mental breakdown and is taken to the Merced County Mental Health Department, where he is treated and released. DRUG BUST: Two years later, police raid a friend's house in Atwater and find marijuana plants, but Stayner is released and no charges are filed. Police say he was simply in the "wrong place at the wrong time." EL PORTAL: Stayner moves to the mountains that same year, and takes a job as a maintenance man at the Cedar Lodge."
    • Esquire, "A Voice In The Dark", 2000/01: "CARY NEVER MADE IT TO SANTA CRUZ. The last time Michael saw him, in the spring of 1997, Cary was living in Atwater, working as a roadie for a local band called Big White Hiney and growing marijuana. The cops finally busted him, but Cary didn't seem to care. By then, his paranoia had faded into a sort of dreamy confidence. He said he was cultivating a medical crop, which was by then legal in California, and proved it with the ad he put in the local paper for a dummy co-op. "They don't know what to do with me," Cary told his old friend, which was true, because the charges were eventually dropped."
  • See the drug ring suspects section on the Yosemite murders page
  • Serial Killer Calendar, "THE STAYNER FAMILY TRAGEDIES" by Martin Shell
    • "Cary Stayner tells the FBI in vivid detail how he raped and denigrated victims Juli Sund & Silvina Pelosso. He denies such things during his candid interviews with KNTV’s Ted Rowlands. There were also major discrepancies in how he described the state of Juli’s discarded body and how it actually appeared when found."
    • "Referred to the killings using the pronoun “we”. Claimed to have learned many cover-up tricks and tactics from true crime TV."
    • "Tuolumne County Sheriff Dick Roger~“There was not one shred of evidence or link to him as a suspect in the Sund/Pelosso homicides until he became a suspect in the homicide of Joie Ruth Armstrong”."
    • "Law Enforcement authorities believed Cary Stayner killed Joie but not the Sunds & Silvina Pelosso."
    • "When he was a teen and would hang out with his friends and shoot his BB gun he would not shoot animals. A sociopath or psychopath would never have an issue with that and most of them start by hurting and killing small animals."
    • "Francis Carrington (father of victim Carole Sund)~“It’s almost like someone else was directing everything in February of 1999 and Stayner just did what he was told”. Cary Stayner’s mother “Kay” Stayner thought this as well."
    • "Delbert Stayner (Cary Stayner’s father)~“I just hope and pray all the time that he didn’t actually do it and that he is hiding something (taking the fall) for somebody else.” His long suffering family never believed he was capable of bloody murder."
    • "Jens Sund (husband to Carole Sund and father of Juli Sund) and his lawyer Zachary Zwerdling believed Stayner was not the lone killer. Cary’s sister Jody Stayner also believes a cult was involved with the 4 killings."
    • "Cary Stayner~“I didn’t feel good about it. I say it’s like matter-of-factly I was doing this, you know. It’s like I’m a split personality.”"
    • "During the second trial, Cary Stayner was emotional and broke down and blocked his eyes and ears when he had to look at the grisly crime scene photos of Juli Sund. When his FBI confession was played back in court, he blocked his ears. If he readily confessed, and was an abject psychopath, why would he even flinch at either scenario played back to him? He would either revel in it or not care a lick. That’s how sociopaths roll. Instead he rocked back and forth with high anxiety. He was always averting his eyes and cradling his face in his hands."
    • "US Senator from Iowa Charles Grassley was very vocal at the time with how bumbling he thought the FBI was and initially did not believe Stayner was the killer."
  • Rumor Mill News, "FBI JAMES MADDOCK, CARY STAYNER AND DRUG DEALERS", 2001/01/25: "Cary Stayner worked at the Cedar Lodge in Yosemite, adjacent to Mariposa County. He and his uncle were long-standing drug dealers. The managers of the Cedar Lodge [they lease the lodge], had been operating a drug operation (Methamphetamine, Heroin, Marijuana) for close to 15 years, and NEVER been arrested for this operation, despite the fact that the Cedar Lodge was a well known drug hangout and distribution center.

    Most of the high-level officials in Mariposa County were involved with the owners and managers of the Cedar Lodge, and with the Mariposa Sheriff's Department. This cozy alliance has been ongoing for nearly 15 years, with no arrests. AND this operation, which goes far beyond the Cedar Lodge into a California drug syndicate [as named in previous news accounts] has been operating under the auspices of THE COMPANY in nearby Fresno."