Back in the 1980s, the National Crime Prevention Council’s “Stranger Danger” campaign was in full effect. The term “don’t talk to strangers” became a mainstay of parenting and part of daily conversation in the family.
Staying away from an unfamiliar person was regarded as the most effective way to keep children safe. The main point of “Stranger Danger” is that all strangers must be considered potentially dangerous.
It really couldn’t be any simpler. By not talking, walking, or interacting with unknown individuals, kids were less likely to find themselves in dire situations, such as getting into a stranger’s car, falling victim to abduction, and sexual abuse.
There had been numerous kidnapping cases in the U.S. before the campaign saw nationwide acceptance. Among the most notable of them was the kidnapping of Steven Stayner in 1972.
He was on the way home from school in Merced, California, when a stranger approached him. The unknown person said he wanted to talk to the 7-year-old boy. Steven was then led to a car and went missing for the next seven years.
10 /10 Fake Representative Of Church
The 7-year-old Steven Stayner lived with his parents, Delbert and Kay Stayner, three sisters, and an older brother in Merced, California.
On December 4, 1972, a man named Ervin Murphy approached Steven when the boy was walking home from school. Murphy claimed to be a representative of the church, looking for donations.
When Steven said his mother would be willing to donate, Murphy led the boy to a car where another man was waiting. Steven would not come home until March 1980.
9 /10 Convicted Sex Offender
Murphy was often described by those who knew him well as a naïve, trusting, and simple-minded man. The other man already waiting in the car was Kenneth Parnell, a convicted sex offender.
Parnell spent his teenage years in and out of juvenile detention centers before serving time in an adult prison for misbehaving with a child.
He had convictions for impersonating a police officer and armed robbery as well. Murphy met Parnell while working at Yosemite National Park, and he believed that Parnell wanted to become a minister.