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The true story behind the movie “The Black Telephone”

the recent movie the black phone It has given much to talk about, as it managed to combine paranormal events with a tragedy that occurred in real life. That’s right, the story was inspired by the Steven Stayner case, which originated in the 70s, which gives the Scott Derrickson-directed film a completely different tone than what we saw on screen.

The unfortunate event happened on December 4, 1972, when seven-year-old Steven left school on his way home. On the way, he was approached by Ervin Murphy, who, under the guise of being a religious representative, offered him a religious brochure, as well as taking him home to see if his mom would be willing to make a donation to the church.

The true story behind the film "the black phone"

After agreeing to the stranger’s offer, the little boy got into a car that immediately approached to “take him home.” However, the driver of the vehicle was Kenneth Parnell, a sexual predator who convinced his partner Murphy that he had been chosen by God to guide the path of the boy who had just been kidnapped and that, from that day on, he would be raised in a religious way.

Once at his captor’s house, an eight-year hell began. The abuse began immediately, and although at first the little boy asked to be taken home, Parnell convinced him that his parents no longer loved him and that was the reason why they had given him legal custody. The man’s words caused Stayner to accept his fate and never again put up resistance or try to escape.

The true story behind the movie "the black phone"

For the next few years, Steven was raised by his kidnapper, who changed his name to Dennis Gregory. Surprisingly, almost 30 days after the kidnapping, he enrolled him in school, posing as his son, considering that it was the 70s, back then it was easy to forge any identity document.

For its part, the family of the minor put a lot of effort into finding the whereabouts of their son, but the work of the police was mediocre, because despite the fact that Kenneth already had a police record for child abuse, for unknown reasons, he never he was entered into the database as a pedophile. Furthermore, at no time was he considered a suspect in the case of Steven’s disappearance.

The true story behind the movie "the black phone"

Meanwhile, Stayner was allowed to lead a “normal” life to keep up appearances. He went to school, worked and hung out with his friends, but in private his story was completely different as he was subjected to all kinds of abuse. Fear was the weapon that kept him tied to that monster, because despite having all kinds of opportunities to escape, he never dared to do so.

Over the years and as Steven grew older, his captor was less and less interested in him, so it was time to look for a new victim. This is how Timothy White came into Steven’s life, whom he immediately took a liking to, swearing to himself that he would not allow the boy to go through the same horror as him. So he defended him to prevent him from being abused. Fortunately, after a short time, both managed to escape from Parnell. Steven came to the police, where, for the first time, he told his story.

The real case behind the movie "the black phone"

The next day, Kenneth Parnell was arrested for the crime of kidnapping. However, he was not convicted for the years of abuse, because, according to the authorities, they occurred outside his jurisdiction, so, despite all the damage he caused, the man was sentenced to seven years in prison, of which he only served five, since he was released for good behavior.

Finally, the time to return home had come, but Stayner found himself with a life full of rules, because his captor always allowed him to smoke and drink, the new restrictions made him doubt whether to return to a life he did not remember. it had been for the best.

The horrible case behind the movie "the black phone"

I came back almost a grown man. However, to my parents I was still his seven-year-old son, but after they stopped trying to teach me the basics of everything, things got better. But why doesn’t my dad hug me anymore? […] Everything has changed. Sometimes I blame myself. Sometimes I don’t know if I was right to come home. Would it have been better if I hadn’t?

Unfortunately, on September 16, 1989, Steven’s life came to an unexpected end after he was hit on his motorcycle while delivering pizza. He died of head trauma. His funeral was attended by Timothy White, who was one of those in charge of carrying the coffin.

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