The kidnaping of Steven Stayner, who apparently lived with his captor for seven years before his discovery last week-end, took another twist today when police said they are looking for a second suspect in the 1972 abduction case.
Police in Ukiah, Calif., already have arrested Kenneth Parnell, a 48-year-old hotel desk clerk from Manchester, Calif., who allegedly lived with Steven as his "father" for the past seven years.
At a press conference here, Steven told reporters that another man was involved in his kidnaping in 1972 while he was walking from school to his Merced home, in California's Central Valley.
Steven, now 14, was discovered Saturday night by Ukiah police in the company of Timothy White, 5, who had been abducted from his Ukiah home in northern California last Feb. 14. The two boys allegedly had been living with Parnell in a one-room cabin in a remote area near the California coast.
Both boys have been reunited with their parents.
Merced Police Sgt. Pat Lunney told reporters that police are investigating the involvement of "one other person" besides Parnell in Steven's abduction. Lunney added that they also were looking into the possibility there may have been other kidnap victims.
In 1952, Parnell, then 19, was convicted in Bakersfield of abducting and sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy he lured into his car, according to court records. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, and served time at San Quentin.
Six years earlier, Parnell himself was assaulted by a man who coaxed him into a car, according to a court psychiatrist's report filed in the Bakersfield case. After the incident, Parnell began stealing cars and had other brushes with the law, and was finally certified a "sexual psychopath" by authorities.
Steven related that seven years ago, "I was just walking home from school" when approached by two individuals in a car who "wanted to know if I wanted a ride." He said he was "sort of suspicious" but eventually agreed to the ride.
That fateful decision took him on a seven-year odyssey through half a dozen northern and central California towns, including Yosemite, Santa Rosa, Willits, Ukiah, Fort Bragg and Manchester, according to police. Steven, who went by the name "Dennis," began calling Parnell "Dad," and was allegedly told by his captors he had been awarded to them by a court, according to police and other sources.
His journey took him and Parnell last summer to a remote cabin in the town of Manchester in the rugged northern California coastal hills. Steven said he spent time reading and playing with barnyard animals Parnell apparently brought to the cabin.
Earlier last month he met five-year-old Timothy, allegedly kidnaped on his way home from school by Parnell on Valentine's Day, according to police. h
Steven said Sunday that he decided to turn Timothy over to Ukiah authorities because he didn't want Timothy to go through what he had. Police found both boys in Ukiah Saturday night. Chief David Johnson said today he would recommend that Steven get the $15,000 reward that had been offered for Timothy's safe return.
Barefoot, and clutching a small black and brown dog name "Queenie" that accompanied him for seven years, Steven told reporters today that he had been "thinking about how to get back" to his real parents for "a couple of years," but did not know how to go about it. He said he remembered his parents' names and what they looked like, was "not totally" convinced by his abductors' story that he was awarded to them by a court.
Steven said he was treated well, enrolled in school, played football and attended Sunday school on occasion. He said he feels "sorry" for Parnell, but had no desire to see him again.
Police refused today to allow Steven to divulge the details of his captivity, but interviews with neighbors and others who knew him and Parnell indicate that they led a secluded but relatively normal life at their Manchester cabin.
Police said today they believe that Parnell had been married previously, but could not supply any details. Neighbors said Parnell had spoken of other wives, told them Steven was his son from a former marriage.
Another Manchester resident, George Rossich, recalled Parnell telling him last summer "he had another son that was going to come and live with him."
Steven was reacquainted with his two brothers and two sisters and given Christmas and other presents the Stayners had been saving for him since his disappearance. He said sheepishly that the presents included a "Big Jim doll" apparently purchased for him by his parents some years ago.