How Kenneth Parnell, a notorious child kidnapper, died of natural causes

Kenneth Parnell was a convicted sex offender, child rapist, and kidnapper who made headlines in the 1970s and 1980s for abducting two young boys and holding them captive for years. He was also the subject of a TV movie based on his crimes. But how did he die and what was his cause of death?

The abduction and escape of Steven Stayner and Timothy White

Parnell’s most infamous crime was the kidnapping of Steven Stayner, a seven-year-old boy from Merced, California, on December 4, 1972. Parnell lured Steven into his car with the help of a co-worker, Edward Murphy, who posed as a church official. Parnell then took Steven to a remote cabin and told him that his parents had given him up because they had too many children. He renamed him Dennis and sexually abused him for seven years.

In 1980, Parnell abducted another boy, Timothy White, who was five years old and from Ukiah, California. He planned to make him Steven’s “little brother” and rename him Tommy. However, Steven, who was then 14, decided to escape with Timothy and hitchhiked to a police station, where he revealed his true identity and Parnell’s crimes.

Parnell was arrested and convicted of kidnapping both boys. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but only served five. He was not charged with any sex crimes because the statute of limitations had expired. Steven later died in a motorcycle accident in 1989. He was the older brother of Cary Stayner, who became a serial killer and murdered four women near Yosemite National Park in 1999.

The attempt to buy a child and the final conviction

Parnell was paroled in 1985 and moved to Berkeley, California, where he worked as a night auditor at a hotel. In 2003, he tried to buy a four-year-old boy from a woman who delivered food to his house. He offered her $500 and asked her to get him a birth certificate for the child. He also said he wanted an African American boy because they were “easier to get and cheaper”.

The woman reported Parnell to the police, who set up a sting operation and arrested him. He was charged with soliciting to commit a felony, attempted child abduction, and attempted child molestation. He was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to 25 years to life under the “three strikes” law. He was 72 years old at the time.

The death of Kenneth Parnell

Parnell spent the last years of his life in the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, a prison hospital for inmates with chronic illnesses. He died of natural causes on January 21, 2008, at the age of 76. He had been on hospice care for some time. According to prison officials, he had no visitors or next of kin.

Parnell’s death marked the end of his long and notorious criminal history of violating young children. He was one of the most hated and feared child predators in California history. His case also raised awareness of the issue of missing and exploited children and inspired legislation to protect them.

Doms Desk

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