Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Suburban Sex Slaves: Six Shocking Cases

Kenneth Parnell

Pedophile Kenneth Parnell gave new meaning to the phrase, "dirty old man." His career as a sex criminal began when he was 20 and sodomized a young boy while impersonating a police officer. He was convicted, but later escaped from the hospital where he was being treated, free to seek out new victims for a year before his recapture.

Steven Stayner, before kidnapping
Steven Stayner, before

It wasn't until later in life, however that his crimes brought him infamy. In 1972, Parnell crossed paths with Steven Stayner, 7, and kidnapped him with the help of friend and coworker Edward Ervin Murphy, who believed Parnell's stated intention to raise the boy in a deeply religious environment. Indeed Parnell had cornered Stayner while claiming to work for a church. Stayner was held captive in Parnell's home for seven years. He told the boy that his parents couldn't afford to have him anymore and that they had given him to Parnell to care for. He gave the child a new name: Dennis. For the next seven years Parnell molested Stayner over 700 times. As luck would have it, when the boy entered puberty, he became too old for Parnell's tastes and so Parnell decided to replace him. Parnell tried to use Stayner to find a new victim, but, frustrated with Stayner's lack of success, wound up bribing a 14-year-old named Randall. He gave Randall drugs and money and Randall helped Parnell kidnap Timmy White, 5, in Ukiah, Calif. Seeing Timmy's distress at the situation, Stayner devised a plan to escape and return Timmy to his family. A month after the abduction, when Parnell was working the night shift, Timmy and Steven caught a ride to a residential area and went to the nearest police station. Parnell was quickly arrested, but was only tried and convicted on the kidnapping charges because the boys did not admit at the time to the sexual assaults. Because it was only a kidnapping and not sexual assault, Parnell only served five years.

Kenneth Parnell
Kenneth Parnell

Nearly 20 years after his release Parnell's evil inclinations once again got the best of him. At the age of 71, in 2003, Parnell found the allure of sexual mastery overwhelming and attempted to buy a four-year old boy. He asked his caregiver, Diana Stevens, to procure the child for him; but the caregiver was aware that Parnell was a convicted child abductor and tipped off police. Parnell alleged that he just wanted a family, but his requests to Stevens indicated otherwise: in court, she testified that he'd asked for the child's rectum to be "clean." Parnell was sentenced in accordance with California's three strikes law receiving the maximum sentence of 25 years to life. He died in prison.

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