The book starts with the abduction of Steven Stayner from Merced, CA which is very close to Yosemite National Park, on December 4, 1972. He was a prisoner of a pedophile for seven years. The murders covered in this book began in February 1999. The man arrested for these murders was Steven’s older brother Cary Stayner.
After covering the abduction and briefly touching on what life with his ‘false’ dad was like, the effect his abduction and return had on his family in general, we get to the murders. The is rather detailed in describing the investigation, into what would turn out to be the wrong suspects, this leads to questions about the lead FBI investigators and speculation that had the FBI not focused their investigation in the wrong direction, the fourth victim would still be alive. This is just speculation of course, there was no reason for Stayner to be suspected. He had legitimate reason to be at the hotel where the victims were staying.
Unfortunately the book was published before Stayner went to trial, I found the results of the trial at Crime Library. I have also listed them below. Some friend of mine thought the book was boring. I don’t agree with them, but if you like trial details and investigation details as opposed to historical details you might not like this book.
Since the fourth murder was in the park, Stayner was tried in Federal court.
On 2/11/2000 the Feds declared their intention to seek the death penalty.
July 12,2000 a federal judge ruled that the government could seek the death penalty.
September 15, 2000 Stayner plead guilty and confessed to the murder of Joie Armstrong thus saving his life.
In the trial for the other three murders:
August 26, 2002: Stayner was found guilty.
September 16, 2002: Stayner was declared sane.
October 9, 2002: Jury recommended death. Appeal is automatic.
That is all the information that was on that site. Considering how long the appeal process is for death-penalty cases, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cary Stayner is still on death row. Also, some of the details in the Crime Library account and this book are different. Not hugely different however.