Yosemite Serial Killer Cary Stayner
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Sacramento Bee's coverage.
Exclusive interview with Stayner's pen pal: "There are words of love exchanged."
Conversation with a Serial Killer - Interview represents the first time he has spoken to a reporter about his life.

The Stayner Family

They were a two parent home of 5 children, Steven, Cary and 3 sisters. Cary was the oldest. Steve and Cary shared a room before and after the abduction.

Their father, Delbert, a maintenance man worked 18-hour shifts, 6 days a week at a cannery at harvest time.

Their mother, Kay, was a Roman Catholic raising her family as Mormon. Kay's parents sent her to a Catholic boarding school when she was in the 1st grade. "She told me she had been physically and emotionally abused there, and she said she just couldn't get into the hugging and kissing," Echols said.

She seldom displayed affection towards her children. She was not close to her mother or other family. "Kay, in a perfunctory sense, was very concerned about their being fed and clothed, but she was not touchy-feely. She was not physically affectionate," said Mike Echols, author of a book about Steve Stayner.

At age of 3, Cary was prescribed medication for trichotillomania, an obsessive-compulsive disorder where a person pulls his or her hair out. The disorder has returned since his arrest.

Kenneth Parnell kidnapped Cary's younger brother Steven Stayner in 1972.

He chose Steven after being told by a postman Steven was spanked by his father. Parnell knew the child would be inclined to obey adults and accept that Steven's parents didn't want him anymore.

Blood Brothers -- Cary and Steven Stayner brothers connected by violence, one is a murderer, the other, a victim, both are remembered by a childhood friend.

His father, would go through Steven's drawers and weep in Cary's presence. He chastised Cary out for painting over the name "Steven" scratched into the garage door.

Cary didn't talk about his brother.

He had his first violent fantasy about women when he was 7 years old.

"People always say that after Steven was kidnapped that they had such a disrupted life, but I disagree with that," A friend said. "Delbert would buy big trailers and take them all to Death Valley, the Grand Canyon. They've been to just about ever national park in the United States. To me, they were so normal."

According to another friend: "I always thought of the Stayners as 'The Brady Bunch.' They were always together. Delbert and Kay never fought. Their house was always perfect. They were real strict, and that was one of the things I liked. The kids were not allowed to go places without permission because of what happened to Steven. It always seemed like they were concerned. They wanted to know where the kids were, they wanted to know who the kids were going out with and wouldn't let them go until they had met them. Once I talked my mom into letting me live with them in the summer."

Delbert expanded a closet to give her room for a bed.

"After about 4 days, when Kay told me it was time to clean the bedroom, I decided it was time to go home."

Steven Stayner miraculously gets away from his captor and returns home.

I Know My First Name Is Steven by Mike Echols

Steven initially denied to the police that he was molested. When the police found sexually explicit photos of him, he admitted to it. The abuse was something his parents didn't discuss. He never received counseling for his 7-year ordeal. Parnell said the only thing he regretted about sexually assaulting Steven was: "When I had anal sex with [Steven] he would bleed and it get all messy and stuff and I didn't like that." (A couple years ago Kenneth Parnell of CA ran a baby-sitting service.)

"I remembered my mom and dad,"Steve said "But I didn't recognize my brother and sisters."

``I think it must have really affected Cary,'' said Michael Kollman, 32, who lived next door for 20 years.

Cary: "We never really got along well after he came back. All of a sudden Steve was getting all these gifts, getting all this clothing, getting all this attention. I guess I was jealous. I'm sure I was.... I got put on the back burner, you might say."

``When Steven came home, Cary was kind of put on the back shelf. He was in the background always.''

Echols recalled a time he joined the family for dinner. "After (Kay) walked back to the stove after setting the table," he said, "Steven remarked to her that she had forgotten one place setting. "Who?' she said, and Steven pointed over to his brother. "Oh yes,' she said. "Cary.' "

Another longtime neighbor, Victoria Flores-Tatum, said Cary Stayner ``was very frustrated at all the publicity Steven was getting . . . I think Cary wants as much attention as Steven got.''

His cousin, Ronnie, recalled Cary would doodle pictures of naked girls in a notepad. He refused to skinny dip with the girls and his cousin though.

Flores-Tatum remembers a different side of Stayner. When she was 14 and Stayner was 16, she went to a sleep over at his sisters. She said Stayner crept under her cot as she slept and reached up to touch her breasts. After she told him to go away, he reappeared in the doorway, naked. She told him to go away a 2nd time, and he did.

Cary didn't establish lasting relationships. No one recollects Stayner having a date.

He told other people about fantasies of killing people and also exhibited rages.

Cary swore he saw "Bigfoot" and was obsessed with that.

In 1979, Cary's classmates voted him the ``most creative'' student in the graduating class. Many thought he would go on to be a cartoonist or graphic artist. He remained known as the brother of a kidnap victim.

Steve married in 1985 and had 2 children before being killed in a motorcycle accident 1989.

Mike Marchese, 51, a friend of 20 years recalls him slamming his fist against plywood and bleeding.

``He said he felt like he was having a nervous breakdown and said he was all nervous and didn't know why,'' Marchese said.

``He said he felt like getting in his truck, driving it into the office and killing the boss and everyone else in there and torching the place. I told him he might have a chemical imbalance, and he said, `I have been told I have, but nothing's ever been done about it.' ''

Stayner was taken to a psychiatric center where he was counseled. He picked up his check but never returned to that job. He told a coworker he was diagnosed obsessive-compulsive, nothing he couldn't handle by smoking a joint.

In 1990, police discovered Jerry Stayner with a shotgun wound to the chest, dead in the house where he lived with Cary. Cary had an alibi and the murder remains unsolved.

March 28, 1997, Cary was arrested by the Narcotics Task Force on marijuana and methamphetamine charges. The charges were dropped.

Stayner was plotting violence for months. He planned to kill his girlfriend, rape her 2 daughters and burn down their house.

Valentine's Day weekend 1999, he saw an opportunity as he walked past the room of 3 Yosemite National Park tourists, he noticed 2 girls watching TV while a middle-aged woman read. The room was on the outskirts with no guests nearby to hear their screams. Carole Sund, 42, her daughter, Juli, 15, and their Argentine friend, Silvina Pelosso, an exchange student, were guests at the Yosemite lodge where Stayner worked.

He convinced Carole Sund to let him check for a leak in the bathroom and pulled a gun. After killing Sund, he drove Juli to a remote reservoir, slashed her throat and covered her body with brush.

The bodies of Carole Sund and Silvina were found in the trunk of their rental, burned in a forest, over a month after they were missing.

Stayner was arrested 6 months later.

Before confessing to the Feb murders of 3 women Stayner admitted to FBI agents he killed a 4th woman, the beheading of Yosemite naturalist, Joie Ruth Armstrong, 37. He had beheaded her, returned to his room, changed and grabbed his rope, knife, duct tape and a gun.

Stayner is serving a life sentence in federal prison for that murder. When Stayner's confession was played for Santa Clara Superior Court jurors, Stayner, clenched his fists against his head and jammed his fingers in his ears as he did 13 months before when the tape was played at a preliminary hearing.

"I didn't realize how hard it is to strangle a person. It's not easy," he told interrogators. "I had no feeling."

He said he felt nothing as he tightened a rope around the neck of one victim, whom he described as "easy prey." He says killing Carole Sund was like "performing a task." Stayner described how he tried to get the two girls to perform sex acts on each other after killing Carole Sund.

"They were vulnerable, easy prey."

Anna Jones, Delbert Stayner's sister, is the family spokesperson.

"It's killing them," she said. "We've always been a real close family. Most of Cary's friends are his relatives. There was nothing out of the ordinary that would make us imagine, ever, that he could be responsible for such a thing."

Jones said they are looking for clues to what triggered Stayner to confess to the murders, suggesting the kidnapping of Steven, may have had a hidden impact.

Delbert, 66, and his wife, Kay, 58, don't talk much about the arrest and both had to be medicated when they learned about it.

"I bawled for three days straight," Delbert said.

"The only way I'm holding up is I'm still on medication."

They haven't followed the case closely. "Cary gets The Fresno Bee every day and he seems to know more about it than we do."

"This has been such a sad deal from the beginning," Delbert Stayner said. "Cary had a lot of love from his father, his mother, his sisters, his cousins. Everybody that knows Cary has a lot of love for him."

"I don't know if he didn't do it or did do it," Delbert Stayner said, "but if he did do it, he did it because something just snapped. Cary was a good kid, one who kept to himself, got good grades, and had friends. We didn't know anything about him having problems or hearing voices. He was awful quiet."

After the arrest, he learned his son saw a psychiatrist years ago. Cary told his father he didn't go back because he didn't want to attend group therapy.

"Cary is so shy, he didn't want to talk about his problems in front of a group of strangers," his father said. "I said (during a jail visit) 'I wish you had gone back.' He said, 'I wish I had, too, Poppa.'"

When they visit weekly, they don't discuss the case. "We don't ask questions or ask him why this or why that," Delbert said.

"If we hounded him about it like everybody else, I don't think he would want to see us." He has expressed remorse, his father said. "He's just not the villain like people have wrote him up to be. If Cary did do it, he wasn't in his right mind. Who could be?"

"We go every week to see him, me and Kay. It's getting a little easier to see him. We still cry, but you only have so many tears. I wish someday somebody would pinch me and this would all be over. I love my son."

The jury rejected the insanity defense.

Thursday, December 12, 2002: Stayner, 41, was sentenced to death, by lethal injection, in state prison for murdering Carole Sund, 42, her daughter, Juli, 15, and their Argentine friend, Silvina Pelosso, 16, during a trip to Yosemite in February 1999.

The retired judge assigned to the case, Judge Thomas Hastings was emotional. Victims' family members and jurors wept. Hastings said there was overwhelming evidence against Stayner, the case created a devastating emotional toll and rejected defense claims that juror misconduct prevented a fair trial.

It could be decades before an execution date on the nation's most congested death row.

"I've never seen anything that's so close to black and white and evil and good as Stayner and our children," said Francis Carrington, the father of Carole Sund and grandfather of Juli.

"I'm so proud of the way Carole and Juli lived, and I'm so ashamed of Stayner."

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Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2011

The Yosemite Murders
by Dennis McDougal
Since he was 7, Cary Stayner had dreamed of capturing women and killing them. 4 women dead, their bodies charred and horribly mutilated. Dennis McDougal, acclaimed author of Mother's Day, gives you the most complete account of what really happened. Drawing on conversations with the killer and interviews with victims' families, McDougal presents answers many questions. What demons drove this quiet handyman and nudist colony habitue to burn, mutilate, and murder 4 women he didn't know? How did he overpower a woman and 2 teenaged girls? And most disturbing, did the FBI actually hindering investigation, leaving the killer free to kill? Dennis McDougal, an investigative reporter who worked for the Los Angeles Times for 10 years, is the author of: In the Best of Families, Angel of Darkness, and Mother's Day. He is also the coauthor of Fatal Subtraction: How Hollywood Really Does Business.
Murder at Yosemite
by Carlton Smith

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