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Docuseries To Explore Tale Of The Stayner Brothers: One A Hero Kidnapping Survivor And The Other A Serial Killer

Steven Stayner became a national hero after escaping his kidnapper and rescuing his fellow captive Timmy White in 1980. Years later, his brother Cary Stayner would go on to murder four people.

Steven Stayner seen in Hulu's "Captive Audience"

A new docuseries will be diving into a tale of two brothers, one of whom was a child kidnapping victim-turned-national hero and the other a serial killer.

A trailer for “Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story,” a Hulu docuseries that debuts on April 21, dropped on Tuesday, teasing a deep dive into the shocking story and the ripple effects it created.

“This is the story of how a story gets told, and how the media’s magnifying glass impacts the characters caught in the narrative,” Hulu states in a synopsis.

Steven Stayner was kidnapped in 1972 in Merced, California when he was just 7. He endured years in captivity and sexual abuse at the hands of Kenneth Parnell, who moved around California with Steven, posing as his legal guardian. In 1980, Parnell engineered the kidnapping of another boy, 5-year-old Timothy White. A disturbed Steven decided to escape with White and return the young child to his parents. The case received national attention, and both Stayner and White were thrust into the spotlight. Their case also inspired the much-watched 1989 TV movie “I Know My First Name Is Steven.” (Steven died that same year in a motorcycle crash.)

But as the trailer suggests, some of Stayner’s siblings were soured by his fame.

"A lot of attention went to Steven — we all got a little jealous,” one of his sisters admits in the teaser. 

That apparently includes Steven's older brother, Cary Stayner, who Hulu describes as being “jealous of how the media has turned Steven into a hero,” according to Hulu.

In 1999, Cary murdered three tourists and a naturalist in Yosemite National Park: Carole Sund, 42; Juli Sund, 15; Silvina Pelosso, 16; and Joie Ruth Armstrong, 26. 

“The story thrusts the Stayners back into the spotlight, forcing us to ask how our appetite for these stories drives a demand the media is eager to satisfy,” Hulu states.

“Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story,” executive produced by the Russo brothers, explores the famous kidnapping case, the infamous serial murders and how fame and infamy affected the Stayner family at large.

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