Meet Barbara Mathias, Steven Stayner’s abductor Kenneth Parnell’s “girlfriend” and the victim’s baby-sister and “mother”.
Hulu’s new show Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story takes a close look at the tragic story of Steven Stayner, a seven-year-old boy who was kidnapped on his way home by Kenneth Parnell and his accomplice Ervin Murphy. On 4 December 1972, they took him to a cabin in Catheys Valley, California after asking him if he was willing to donate to the church.
Then, they told Steven that their parents didn’t want him anymore because they couldn’t take care of him. Meanwhile, his parents searched every nook and corner for him but never found him.
Thus began, the next seven years of physical and mental abuse of Steven. He was often enrolled in a remote school and passed off as Kenneth’s son. Steven’s new name was Dennis Parnell. Kenneth had an extensive criminal history. He had previously spent three years in San Quentin for molesting an 8-year-old boy plus another six years in a Utah prison on armed robbery and grand larceny charges.
Meet Barbara Mathias, Kenneth Parnell Wife
Barbara Mathias, a single mother, was a babysitter to Dennis Parnell AKA Steven Stayner. She met Kenneth and Steven in 1973 about nine months after he was kidnapped while walking home from school.
Barbara and Kenneth dated each other and she ended up moving with them for nine months. After Steven’s escape, Barbara insisted that she had no idea that “Dennis” wasn’t Kenneth’s son.
She had a son named Lloyd (then-12-year-old) who played together. She reportedly became Steven’s mother for nearly two years.
Steven, later, shared with a psychologist Phillip Hamm, that he also had se* with Barbara. At the time, he was only 11 years old. Steven told Hamm about how uncomfortable he had felt with their sexual relationship. It was the first mention at the trial of any relations between Steven and Miss Mathias.
Steven alleged that at the age of nine both Barbara and Kenneth had him have se* with the pair on nine separate occasions over the course of the eighteen months she lived with Steven and Parnell.
Hamm said the experience has left its scar on Stayner. The psychologist said the boy is ‘very constricted in his ability to look at and interpret the outside world.’
Moreover, Steven shared that Barabara also participated to help Kenneth to kidnap a boy who was a member of the Santa Rosa Boys’ Club.
Where Is Barbara Mathias Today? Is She Dead Or Alive?
Barbara Mathias, “mother” of Steven for two years, later met Steven Stayner’s real parents. Barbara and Steven’s mother Kay had a pleasant meeting and Kay told her, “It’s been hell for the last seven years”. She replied quietly, “I know. That’s why I wanted to come. I know how I would have felt if it had been my kid”.
When Barbara arrived at Steven’s parents’ house, he greeted Mathias with a broad grin as she entered the house.
“I thought that because I babysat for him you would want to know he was a good boy all that time,” Barbara told. “He was always a nice boy and he called me “mother” like my own kids did”. They had a meeting for 20 minutes and Barbara and Kay exchanged addresses.
“I don’t care how late I get to sleep tonight, I’ll be in heaven”. She lived away from a 250-mile drive to her home north of Ukiah.
Barbara told, “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think “Dennis” was kidnapped or anything”.
One childhood friend of Steven knew him as “Gregory” while in captivity. As he reported, Barbara’s son Lloyd was killed by his step-father, Barbara’s husband in 1997. While people focused on Steven, Lloyd who admitted to a newspaper that he was also abused by Kenneth regularly went unseen.
Whether Barbara is alive or dead today is unclear.
Barbara Mathias Age
When Steven Stayner arrived home to his parents in 1980, Barbara was reportedly 44 years old. So, if she is alive, as of 2022, she should be 85 years old.
Barbara Mathias Job
Kenneth Parnell had hired Barbara Mathias for the job of a babysitter for Steven. She shared that Kenneth paid her $60 a month to watch Steven in the afternoon. Later in 1975, she started living with Kenneth and Steven in a mobile home in Willits, 30 miles north of Ukiah. She left them in the spring of 1976 but never revealed why.
Where Was Barbara Mathias Born?
Barbara Mathias was likely born in California. She reportedly lived in Santa Rosa. Steven reportedly spent a lot of time in Santa Rosa but never ever mentioned being kidnapped even to the kids who he played with.
Was Barbara Mathias Ever Charged For Her Deeds?
No, Barbara was never charged with any crimes even though Steven mentioned being sexually abused by her.
Did Barbara Mathias Appear On Hulu’s Captive Audience?
No, Barbara Mathias didn’t appear on Hulu’s Captive Audience.