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Molester Held in Alleged Attempt to Buy a Child

January 04, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Kenneth Parnell, the child molester who became infamous after kidnapping and sexually torturing Steven Stayner in the 1970s, was arrested in Berkeley on Friday night in a police sting operation after allegedly trying buy a child.

Berkeley police said a tip led them to Parnell's home, but offered no further details.

"We became aware of his desire to purchase a child ... and we intervened," said police Lt. Dennis Ahearn.

An admitted child kidnapper, Parnell, who is now in his 60s, has twice been convicted of abducting and molesting young boys. One of his victims was the younger brother of Cary Stayner, who was sentenced to death last year for killing four women at Yosemite National Park.

In 1972, Parnell, then a hotel worker in Yosemite, snatched 7-year-old Steven Stayner from a rural highway in Merced. Parnell molested and tortured the boy for seven years.

Stayner escaped in 1980, fleeing to police in Ukiah with Timmy White, a 5-year-old boy Parnell had kidnapped two weeks before.

Steven's ordeal became the basis of a book and TV movie, "I Know My First Name is Steven." In 1989, he died in a motorcycle accident near Merced at the age of 24.

Parnell served five years at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad before being released in 1988.

Cary Stayner was 10 years old when his little brother disappeared while walking home from school. Twenty-seven years later, the older brother committed a series of murders that overshadowed even the media sensation caused by his brother's disappearance.

Stayner, who like Parnell became a Yosemite hotel worker, would confess to killing three female tourists and beheading a female park employee in the Yosemite area over six months, telling federal authorities that he acted alone as he hunted down and killed each victim, molesting some, and then methodically covered up his crimes.

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