Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Lost Boy

Parnell Strikes Again

After the two trials, Kenneth Parnell served five years of a seven-year sentence, and was paroled in the city of Berkeley.

Decades passed and Parnell aged and became a near-invalid requiring visiting social workers and assistants for his daily needs.

In 2002 and in his 70s, Parnells age and frailty did not prevent him from asking a caregiver to obtain a little African-American boy for him. Parnell offered the woman $500 for the service.

At first, the woman doubted that the old man was serious, but when she became convinced that he was, she went to the authorities.

On January 3, 2003, the caregiver arrived at Parnells home and told him she had a little boy waiting in the car. Parnell gave her $100 for a forged birth certificate, and asked her to bring the boy inside.

Once she had walked away, police descended on Parnell and his house. They found the remaining $400 in Parnells pockets, and found sex toys, assorted pornography, and toys for his new son inside his residence.

Parnell was quickly arrested and charged with soliciting a kidnapping, trying to steal a child, attempting to purchase a person.

Kenneth Parnell in court, 2004
Kenneth Parnell in court, 2004
 

In early 2004, Parnells trial on those three charges began in Alameda Countys Superior Court.

The prosecution stated that Parnells attempt to purchase a young boy was a continuation of his earlier criminal behaviors. They brought witnesses to the stand such as the caregiver Parnell had asked to obtain the child, and then presented witnesses from his earlier crimes, including Stevens mother, Kay, and the now-grown Tim White.

White recalled the details of his abduction again, and, when leaving the courtroom, ran into another witness: the now-grown Randall, who had pried his small fingers from a chain link fence more than 20 years earlier in order to follow Parnells desires to expand his family.

The Oakland Tribune reported that the two men had not seen each other since Parnell and Randalls 1981 trial. After a brief exchange of quiet words in the hallway outside the courtroom, the two men embraced and Randall was heard to apologize repeatedly to White.

Parnells defense team stated to the jury that Parnell merely wanted to provide a nice home to a disadvantaged young boy. The defense initially didnt want any mention of the earlier crimes against Steven or Timmy White to be mentioned, but the judge allowed it. The judge did rule in favor of the defense, however, when she stated that no mention of the sexual aspect of the crimes against Steven could be presented by the prosecution, as Parnell was not being charged with any sexual offenses.

The defense attempted to convince the jury that Parnell was now too old to be a threat to young children and pointed out that Parnell had never used the word kidnap in his conversations with the caregiver (although he had asked the caregiver to get him a child and admitted to her that it would be risky).

After the prosecution and defense had presented their cases, the jury deliberated for approximately 90 minutes before finding Parnell guilty. Parnell reportedly showed no emotion as the verdict was read and he was quickly taken back to prison to await sentencing.

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