WINTON — Delbert Foy Stayner, the father of Steven and Cary Stayner, died Tuesday at his home in Winton. He was 79.
His two sons were notable for very different reasons. Steven was kidnapped at age 7 in 1972 in Merced. Several years later he would escape and lead another young captive to safety. Steven would die in a motorcycle crash in 1989.
Brother Cary is in San Quentin State Prison awaiting execution for killing a woman and two teenage girls who had been sightseeing in Yosemite National Park in 1999. He also was found guilty of murdering a park naturalist around the same time.
His parents testified at his trial that they felt they neglected him as a youth because they were preoccupied with searching for his younger brother.
Mr. Stayner was a longtime Merced resident, moving to the area in 1951 from Farmington, N.M. He served in the Army from 1953 through 1957, rising to the rank of staff sergeant.
He worked in sawmills throughout California before finding employment with California Canners & Growers from 1961 to 1988. He then worked for Atwater Canning, retiring in 1995.
Mr. Stayner married Kay Augustine in 1960, and they had five children.
In addition to his wife and son Cary, his survivors include daughters Cindy Sartell, Jody Cass and Cory Stayner; sisters Maxine Higgins, Anna Jones and Sharon Higgins; 10 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Wilson Family Funeral Chapel in Atwater. A military burial will follow at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery at 12:30 p.m.
The divergent stories of both his sons, one heroic and one evil, are well known in the Central Valley and beyond.
Steven Stayner was kidnapped while walking home from school in Merced by a child molester named Kenneth Parnell. Stayner was held captive for seven years and sexually abused continually.
Parnell eventually abducted another boy, Timothy White, from Ukiah in February 1980. Rather than let another child suffer the same abuse, Steven fled with White while their captor was away.
After leading White to safety, he helped law enforcement officers track down Parnell, who died at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville at age 76 in 2008 while serving a life sentence.
Steven Stayner died in a motorcycle accident at age 24 in 1989, leaving a wife and two children. White died at age 35 in 2010 of a pulmonary embolism. He was a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff with a wife and two children.
More than a decade later, Cary Stayner was convicted of the murders of Carole Sund, 42, of Eureka, her daughter Julie, 15, and family friend Silvina Pelosso, 16, of Cordoba, Argentina. The trio went missing near Yosemite in February 1999.
In March, their burned rental car was found in Tuolumne County. The bodies of Carole Sund and Silvina were in the trunk. A week later Julie's body was found near Moccasin Point above Don Pedro Reservoir.
On July 22, 1999, the beheaded body of Joie Ruth Armstrong, a Yosemite naturalist, was found in the park.
Cary Stayner, a handyman at a nearby motel, was questioned the same day but then disappeared. Within days he was arrested at a nudist resort near Sacramento, and a few days later he confessed to killing all four women.
Stayner was convicted of the Sund-Pelosso murders and sentenced to death on Dec. 13, 2002.
Today, there is a 12-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Steven, called the Missing Children's Memorial, at the 26th and M streets entrance to Merced's Applegate Park.
It was the culmination of seven years of effort by Merced residents to create a monument recognizing Steven Stayner for rescuing Timothy White and dedicated to all missing children. But it wasn't without controversy, as some expressed opposition because of the brutal crimes of Cary Stayner.