Cary Stayner

Cary Stayner

Cary Stayner
Background information
Born: August 13, 1961 (1961-08-13) (age 48)
Number of victims: 4
Span of killings: February–July 1999
Country: U.S.
State(s): California
Date apprehended: 1999

Cary Stayner (born August 13, 1961) is an American serial killer currently on death row for the 1999 murders of four women in Mariposa County near Yosemite, California.


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Early life

Stayner was born and raised in Merced, California. His younger brother, Steven, was kidnapped by child molester Kenneth Parnell in 1972 and held captive for more than seven years before escaping and being reunited with his family. Cary Stayner would later say he felt neglected as his parents grieved over the loss of Steven. [1] When Steven escaped from Parnell and returned home in 1980, he received massive media attention; a true crime book and TV movie, both titled I Know My First Name is Steven, were made about the ordeal. Steven died in a motorcycle accident in 1989. The following year, Cary Stayner’s uncle, with whom he was living at the time, was murdered.

Considered by many friends and family to be a gifted artist, Cary held interest in both art and nature making frequent trips to Yosemite before finally moving there in his adult life.

Stayner attempted suicide in 1991 and was arrested in 1997 for possession of marijuana and methamphetamine, although the charges were eventually dropped.


In 1997, he was hired as a handyman at the Cedar Lodge motel in El Portal, just outside the Highway 140 Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park. Between February and July 1999, he murdered four women: Carole Sund, her daughter Julie Sund, their travel companion, exchange student Silvina Pelosso and Yosemite National Institute’s (now NatureBridge) employee Joie Armstrong.

He was initially questioned when the first three victims were found, but he was not seriously considered as a suspect due mainly to his relations, and his own attempts to throw off authorities. When the fourth body was found in an inholding in Yosemite National Park in July, however, he was questioned again and arrested by FBI Agents John Boles and Jeff Rinek at Laguna del Sol nudist resort in Wilton. His truck yielded evidence linking him to the victim. He eventually confessed to all four murders[2].

Stayner claimed after his arrest that he had fantasized about murdering women since the age of seven, long before the abduction of his brother.


Stayner pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers claimed that the Stayner family had a history of sexual abuse and mental illness, manifesting itself not only in the murders but also in Stayner’s request for child pornography (in return for his confession[3]) and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He was nevertheless found sane and convicted of four counts of first degree murder by a jury in 2001. In 2002, during the penalty phase of his trial, he was sentenced to death. An appeal is pending. Stayner is housed in the Adjustment Center on death row at San Quentin Penitentiary in California.

See also

  • Psychological trauma


External links

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