How did Steven Stayner die? The untimely end to his already tragic life

Steven Stayner

Steven Stayner had a tragic life, from being abducted and abused by child molester Kenneth Parnell since he was 7 years old to his untimely death a decade after his freedom. He was 14 years old when he escaped from Parnell’s captivity and saved another victim, a 5-year-old Timothy White, from a similar fate.

The tale of Stayner’s kidnapping and his struggle to connect with his family after being reunited is well documented in the 1989 miniseries I Know My First Name Is Steven and the 2022 docuseries Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story. He was an advocate for child abduction and personal safety.

Steven Stayner was killed in a hit-and-run accident after sustaining fatal head injuries – He was only 24

Steven Stayner, born in 1965, was only 24 years old when he died on September 16, 1989. He was killed in a hit-and-run accident while returning home to his family from his work as a pizza delivery man.

The motorcycle he was riding collided with a car on a California highway. Stayner did not have a helmet on and was driving with a suspended license. He sustained serious head injuries and was admitted to the Merced Community Medical Center where he passed away less than an hour later.

The driver who fled the scene was later identified as 28-year-old Antonio Loera who worked at a local tomato-packing plant. He surrendered to the police a few days after Stayner’s death.

Stayner’s parents, Kay and Delbert, were ‘devastated’ about the news of their son’s death. His widow Jody Edmondson, with whom he had a daughter and a son, was of the view that Loera ultimately left Stayner to die on the rainy highway by fleeing immediately after the crash.

Jody believed that Loera could have prevented Stayner’s death if he had acted in time and taken him to the hospital.

“Steven was a very happy man living a normal life with two beautiful kids… I’m very, very, very angry. I have never been this angry. It would have been a lot different if this man who hit him had stayed. If it’s the last thing I do I’ll nail him,” said Jody.

Shortly before his death, Stayner had become a member of Merced’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On September 20, 1989, his funeral services were held at the same church and it was attended by more than five hundred people.

Timothy White, who was 14 years old at the time and had lost touch with Stayner over the years, learned about his death and became a pallbearer at the funeral.

“I feel bad for him, he has had a pretty sad life,” said White.