April 11, 2010

The curse of Kenneth Parnell

Reaching out from the grave?

In another tragic twist to the infamous case of Kenneth Parnell, the pedophile's younger kidnapping victim has died of a pulmonary embolism at the young age of 35. Timothy White, a sheriff's deputy, leaves behind a wife and two young children.

I followed this case closely when it broke in 1980, writing a critical analysis of media coverage for a journalism assignment, and in the three decades since it has remained one of the eeriest I've encountered. Now, with the sad death of "Timmy" White, who was just 5 when Parnell kidnapped him, it seems that no one escaped from Parnell's curse:
  • Parnell's older victim, Steven Stayner, who lived with Parnell for seven years, died in a motorcycle crash in 1989, eight years after he escaped with little Timmy.
  • Steven's brother, Cary, went on to become a serial rapist-killer of women in Yosemite National Park, crimes for which he is on San Quentin’s Death Row, awaiting eventual execution.
The wretched Parnell, meanwhile, died two years ago of natural causes. He was 76 and serving time for trying to pay his in-home caregiver in Berkeley to acquire a 4-year-old boy for him. That makes him the exception that proves the rule about sex offenders desisting in old age.

My 2008 blog post on Parnell's death is HERE, with links to more background on the case.
Photo: Timmy White gets a piggyback ride from Steven Stayner at a 1980 news conference.

Hat tip: Kathleen