An Abducted Little Boy says, “I Know My First Name Is Steven” Part I

The film portrayal of Steven Stayner

I Know My First Name Is Steven is a 1989 American television miniseries about kidnap victim Steven Stayner. The two-part miniseries was first broadcast by NBC on May 21–22, 1989.

Screening rights were sold to a number of international television companies including the BBC, which screened the miniseries in mid-July of the following year; later still, it was released as a feature-length movie. It was nominated as Best Miniseries or Television Film at the 47th Golden Globe Awards and received four Emmy Award nominations.

The real Steven Stayner

Steven Stayner, a seven year-old boy, is kidnapped by Kenneth, a man caught up in his isolation and loneliness who believes that the only solution to the problem is to claim a boy for his own. Once he, with the help of his partner in crime, Irving Murphy, manages to follow through with his plan, he immediately begins to “groom” and bribe Steven to desire to stay with him. Steven, however, despite protesting against Kenneth, saying that he wanted to go home, had no choice in the matter. As the sexual abuse happened Kenneth continued these acts of molestation, child rape for seven years.

It wasn’t until Steven was fourteen, that the abuse was disclosed, and he was rescued from his perpetrator. Because Kenneth kidnapped another young child, a boy named Timmy, Steven built up the courage to prevent Timmy from going through the same thing that he went through when he was Timmy’s age. He brought Timmy to the police, and when he did, he was questioned and pressed until he confessed that he was the victim of a kidnapping by his “dad,” Kenneth.

Steven later testified in court on Timmy’s behalf, and then later, in a hearing for accusations of the crimes that Kenneth committed against himself. After a painful testimony, Kenneth only received twenty months in prison for the kidnapping and sexual abuse against Steven.

After returning to his family, Stayner had trouble adjusting to a more structured household as he had been allowed to smoke, drink and do as he pleased when he lived with Parnell.

In an interview with Newsweek shortly after his escape, Stayner said, “I returned almost a grown man and yet my parents saw me at first as their 7-year-old. After they stopped trying to teach me the fundamentals all over again, it got better. But why doesn’t my dad hug me anymore? […] Everything has changed. Sometimes I blame myself. I don’t know sometimes if I should have come home. Would I have been better off if I didn’t?”

Stayner underwent brief counseling but never sought additional treatment. He also refused to disclose all the details of sexual abuse he endured from Parnell.

In a 2007 interview, Stayner’s sister said that her brother did not seek counseling because their father said Stayner “didn’t need any”. She added, “He [Steven] got on with his life but he was pretty messed up.” He was bullied by other children at school for being molested and eventually dropped out. Stayner began to drink frequently, and was eventually kicked out of the family home. His relationship with his father remained strained.

In 1985, Stayner married 17-year-old Jody Edmondson, with whom he had two children. He also worked with child abduction groups, spoke to children about personal safety, and gave interviews about his kidnapping.

He joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just before his death. At the time of his death, Stayner was living in Merced and working at a pizza shop.

On September 16, 1989, Stayner sustained fatal head injuries while on his way home from work when his motorcycle collided with a car. Five hundred people attended his funeral, at which 14-year-old Timmy White was a pallbearer. wiki

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