It upsets me when I read the reviews of this book, and they have to include Cary. Steven was my best friend in the world and will always remain that way in my heart.
Steve and I were classmates at Charles Wright on Dec 4, 1972, and it was my birthday party he attended the day before he was abducted.
As 1 of 5 children, if I were to commit a crime, my sibblings should not pay the price. Steve is his own person, this book is about Steven who is and always will be a hero in my mind and in my heart. Stevens parents have been like a mom and dad to me, and it upsets me when they always include Cary in Stevens stories.
Steven was the most wonderful friend a person could ever have, he was so special to me, and I will defend his memory until the day I join him in heaven....
Sharon Griffin (Carr)
The chances of a child being kidnapped are very, very small indeed - yet it is a prospect which fills every parents' heart with absolute terror. And sadly, rare though it may be, it is an experience with which the Stayner family became all too familiar, when their seven year old son was snatched from outside his school gates by a paedophile. The Stayner's ordeal lasted for seven years and three months, during which time they and the police searched endlessly for any clue to Stevens whereabouts. Unknowingly, they came close to finding him several times - but, in the end, it was Steven who found them. Steven had been told by his kidnapper that his parents could no longer afford to keep him and that the kidnapper (Ken Parnell) had legally adopted him. This must have seemed logical to the seven year old, who resigned himself to his fate and set about learning to live a new life as Parnell's son 'Dennis'. Parnell and his friend Murphy led a relatively normal, if somewhat nomadic life. 'Dennis' was usually registered in schools, acquired various 'aunties' over the years and made friends - even got his first girlfriend. Yet, amazingly, he never once mentioned his predicament to anyone, even when he was once picked up and cautioned by the police for shoplifting. Observers who came into contact with the 'father and son' described them as having an excellent relationship. 'Dennis' even seemed remarkably tolerant of the sexual abuse which he was forced to endure.Yet everything suddenly changed after more than seven years, when Parnell suddenly decided to acquire a second son. Five year old Timmy was far less malleable and acquiescent than Steven had been. Rather than submitting meekly to his fate, he cried constantly. In a very short time, Steven grew to care for his new 'brother' and dreaded the day when Parnell would begin to abuse the younger boy. So, when Parnell was out at wor
k, Steven seized his chance and took Timmy to the nearest police station. Incredibly, Steven intended to lead Timmy to safety then return to Parnell. However Timmy was afraid and Steven was forced to take him into the police station - thus his ordeal was ended and he was reunited with his family. "I Know My First Name Is Steven" ( the words spoken by Steven to the police) is the story of Steven's kidnap from and eventual return to his family. It is the tale of his childhood - as Steven, then Dennis, then as Steven again. The book tells of Parnell's trial for the abduction and abuse of the two boys, and the evntual amazing conclusion to the legal proceedings, which I won't reveal for fear of spoiling the plot. It also outlines the difficulties experienced by Steven's family - first the long years of fear and uncertainty, then on his return. Imagine losing a seven year old boy, to have him return to the family unit as a fourteen year old teenager who had lived more than half of his formative years by someone else's rules. Again, I won't spoil the plot - suffice to say the reunion wasn't entirely the joyous event that the family had longed for throughout their years in limbo. The book is well written by author Mike Echols, who has trained both as a journalist and as a social worker specialising in children's issues.He brings elements of both professions to his writing.Echols wrote the book at the specific request of the Stayner family, drawing his material from actual trial transcripts and interviews with all partcipants in the case, including Parnell. (he also acted as a consultant for a subsequent TV dramatisation of the case with the same titke as the book). This is a case where truth is stranger than fiction. The publishers notes reveal that Steven tracgically died as a young man in a motorcycle accident. The notes do not reveal that one of Steven's brothers went on
to become a serial killer - that is another story, and another book review. Abduction of children by strangers is very rare, which is why actual cases hit the headlines when they do happen. But, if you are still worried (as most parents undoubtedly are), why not teach YOUR child a "magic word". This can be anything - "Mickey Mouse", "Pink Elephants", "Cuddly Caterpillars" - anything that's known only to you, your child and trusted people such as grandparents. Tell your child not to go with anyone who doesn't say the magic words. Ask grandparents etc to prompt the child to ask for the password. Many children do not grasp the concept of 'Strangers', but can be taught to demand a magic word and make a fuss when it is not forthcoming. And, please - don't have nightmares... "I Know My First Name Is Steven" - Mike Echols - Pinnacle ISBN 0 7860 1104 1
The story of Steven Stayner who was kidnapped and returned safely to his parents after more than seven years.