On This Day

On this day in 1999, law enforcement officials discover the charred bodies of forty-two-year-old Carol Sund and sixteen-year-old Silvina Pelosso in the trunk of their burned-out rental car, a day after the vehicle was located in a remote area several hours from Yosemite National Park. Cary Stayner, a handyman at the lodge where the women were last seen a month before, later confessed to their murders as well as those of two other women.


The area where the bodies was found was near Long Barn, a small touristy settlement juuuuust into what I considered the mountains. I’ve been up and down every Forestry Service road in that area, fished it, hunted it, camped it, done it all.

I remember one time me and Pops were wandering around on the backside of Long Barn for one reason or another and we were creeping down a Forestry Service road that was so overgrown with brush I couldn’t go any faster than a walk, fucking manzanita branches scraping against the sides of the truck with that fingernails on the chalkboard screech – non stop. Pops looks over at me and says “Do you have any fucking idea at all where we’re at?” He knows what a shitty sense of direction I have – he should, he’s spent a fair amount of time trying to find me. He swears I’m the only motherfucker he knows that can get lost following a stream.
“Yup yup, we’re gonna bust out onto 108 right at the Welcome to Twaine Hart sign in a flash.” I glanced over at him. “Trust me. I’ve been on this road before but it wasn’t nearly as overgrown.”
About 10 minutes later, the fucking brush cleared and right in front of us was the sign on the other side of the highway. I hung a right on to the blacktop and headed back up to the hills.
Pops says “I’da never believed it. How long’s it been since you’ve been on that road?”
“About 25 years now. I found it when I was lost.”

Like I said, I’ve been all over that area. I was shocked when I heard those bodies were found there and in a burned car knowing they were going to be discovered. The other victim’s body was found near Don Pedro reservoir and while the article says it was in an isolated area, it was actually only a hundred yards or so from a scenic viewing area.
And the Cedar Lodge? I’ve stayed there before when I was prospecting in the area. It wasn’t a bad place, even in the off season.

The article also mentions a wallet being found in Modesto which led to arrests and the FBI agent in charge jumped the gun and announced in the paper that they had the murderers in custody and they were a (and I quote) “a loose knit band of methamphetamine users with a penchant for violence”.
Both me and my ex knew every one of them from many years back, long before me and my ex ever met. We weren’t tight, but we knew them.
They were eventually turned loose but you know their street creds went through the roof. I bet every one of them had that fucking newspaper article framed in their houses right along with their booking papers. Matter of fact I can damn near guarantee it and it’s right there on the mantle next to the dope pipes.

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3 Responses to On This Day

  1. Elmo says:

    I remember the story well, but had forgotten the part about the false arrests in Modesto.
    Also part of the story was the fact that Cary Stayner’s younger brother had been the kidnap victim of a child molester and later died in a motorcycle accident at 24 years old.
    Talk about a family born under a dark star.

    • Wirecutter says:

      Steven Stayner, yup. There was a movie out about him called “My Name Is Steven” or something like that.
      You’re right, I remember thinking back then the family was cursed.

  2. gsebes says:

    “About 25 years now. I found it when I was lost.” : )

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