Steven Stayner – 1972

By | January 27, 2017

“I know my first name is Steven”



Timmy White and Steven Stayner at a press conference

Steven Gregory Stayner was born on 18 April 1965, the third of five children of Delbert and Kay Stayner in Merced, California. On 4 December 1972 Ervin Murphy, 31, and Kenneth Parnell, a 41-year-old with a criminal record for abusing children stretching back to 20 March 1951, approached Steven. Parnell told Steven that he was the priest at a local church and offered the boy a lift home. Instead of taking the child home, Parnell took him to a cabin strewn with toys.

That night Parnell made the boy give him oral sex for the first time. The paedophile told Steven that his parents did not want him any more and that he would be adopted and his new name would be Dennis Gregory Parnell. He was also ordered to call Parnell “Dad”. A fortnight after the kidnapping, Parnell and Steven moved to Santa Rosa, California.

They moved around California and the oral sex became sodomy. Parnell opened a shop selling bibles and other religious tracts but the business failed in June 1975. Parnell also babysat for Steven’s friends. One day, Barbara, the mother of one of Steven’s friends moved in with Parnell and Steven. Parnell invited the boy into bed with himself and Barbara, and Steven was forced to have sex with her. As Steven grew older Parnell had less sexual interest in him and began to look for a younger victim.

On 14 February 1980 Parnell and Sean Poorman kidnapped five-year-old Timmy White in Ukiah, California. Parnell did not touch Timmy that first night nor for the next two weeks. On 1 March Steven escaped with Timmy and hitchhiked into Ukiah. He told Timmy to walk into the police station but a policeman saw the two boys and stopped them leaving. Steven wrote a statement “My name is Steven Stainer [sic]. I am 14 years of age. I don’t know my true birthdate but I use April 18 1965. I know my first name is Steven, I’m pretty sure my last is Stainer [sic] and if I have a middle name, I don’t know it.”

Parnell was arrested on 2 March and tried for abducting Timmy on 8 June. He was convicted on 29 June and sentenced to seven years in jail. On 1 December he was tried for kidnapping Steven. On Christmas Eve he was convicted and sentenced to two years for kidnapping and five years for conspiracy. He was not tried on any counts of sexual assault. Ervin Murphy and Sean Poorman received lesser sentences.


Merced, California, USA


Monday 4 December 1972


Steven married Jody Edmondson on 13 June 1985 and they had a son and daughter. He died at 5.35pm on 6 September 1989 after his motorbike crashed into a car. At the time he was not wearing a helmet and had been banned from driving. Timmy White, then 14, helped to carry Steven’s coffin.

On 3 January 2003 Parnell was arrested for trying to procure a young black boy for $500. Convicted on 9 February 2004, in April he was sentenced to 25 years to life. He died in Vacaville state prison hospital on 21 January 2008.


Steven’s older brother is the convicted serial killer, Cary Stayner. He murdered four women in the same area where his brother was kidnapped, between February and July 1999. Convicted on 26 August 2002, he is currently on death row at San Quentin Penitentiary awaiting execution.

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