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An Obit That Will Break Your Heart

This obit will break your heart. Here's how a serial criminal's misdeeds infected a whole lot of people.

PH2010041204207.jpgTimothy White, a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff who died of a pulmonary embolism April 1 at the age of 35, was only five years old when he was kidnapped by a child molester. That molester had taken, abused and held another boy for more than seven years. Two weeks after White's kidnapping, that fellow victim, 14-year-old Steven Stayner fled with the boy and hitchhiked to safety.

"He didn't want what happened to him to happen to me," White said in 2004. That's White, on the shoulders of Stayner, after they managed to escape.

The molester, Kenneth Parnell, spent five years in prison during the 1980s for the abductions of Stayner and White. He died at age 76 in 2008 while serving a life term for trying to buy a 4-year-old boy for $500 while living in Berkeley, Calif.

Stayner, who returned to his family in Merced, died in a 1989 motorcycle crash.

The ordeal exacted a heavy toll on the Stayner family. Stayner's brother, Cary, is in San Quentin State Prison awaiting execution for killing four women in Yosemite National Park in 1999, a crime I vividly remember since I lived in northern California at the time.

His parents testified at his trial that they felt they had neglected him, preoccupied with searching for Steven.

The dramatic kidnapping story was told in a book and in the 1989 television movie, "I Know My First Name is Steven."

By Patricia Sullivan  |  April 13, 2010; 3:41 PM ET
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Awful, awful. I remember the murders, too, but did not know about the connection.

What is also terrible is that Parnell only got five years in prison for his crimes, which was less time than he held Stayner captive.

Posted by: GRILLADES | April 14, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Patricia Sullivan:
Thank you for this Post Mortem article.
I remember when these children were found and returned home.
(My Congressman at the time, Nick Lampson, sponsored the legislation to establish the National Missing & Exploited Children's Act and the Amber Alert Act.
As his supporters, we paid close attention to these cases which were reported by the media.)
When the Yosemite murders occurred and the manhunt was on, as a Volunteer In Parks, I took an interest in that case, as well.
After his arrest, when Cary Stayner's background was revealed, it was a great shock to realize these situations were linked by their tragedy and the grief of all the families involved.
My heart goes out to the Stayner parents who have had to endure so much.
Tim White became a real hero and died much, much too young.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | April 16, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

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