FBI: Suspect confesses to Yosemite beheading
Motel handyman to be arraigned this afternoon
July 26, 1999
SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- Motel handyman Cary Stayner has confessed to the beheading of a naturalist at Yosemite National Park, the FBI said in an affidavit filed Monday in a federal court in Sacramento.
Stayner, 37, was to make an initial court appearance later in the day in connection with the slaying of Joie Ruth Armstrong, whose decapitated body was discovered Thursday.
He was arrested on Saturday and has provided details about the killing of Armstrong, 26, that only police knew about, the affidavit said.
The FBI has also called Stayner the prime suspect in the murders of three Yosemite sightseers who disappeared in February. Their bodies were found about five weeks later. He originally was questioned and ruled out as a suspect in those killings.
Stayner caught the attention of park rangers again last week after his sport utility vehicle was seen near Armstrong's residence on Wednesday night, an hour after she was last seen there.
Armstrong's body was found nearby. Her head wasn't found until later.
FBI agents had questioned Stayner after the body was found -- even searching his backpack for her head -- but let him go. They decided to take him in again after learning on Friday that he had failed to show up to work at the Cedar Lodge.
The motel is in El Portal, California, at the western edge of Yosemite.
Stayner was arrested Saturday at a nudist colony near Wilton, California, after someone there heard news reports about the wanted man and called authorities.
FBI agents have wondered whether they could have prevented Armstrong's murder by linking Stayner to the three earlier killings.
The murder of Armstrong is being pursued in federal court because the killing occurred in a national park.
Stayner also is a suspect in the killings of Carole Sund, 42, her 15-year old daughter Julie, and Silvina Pelosso, a 16-year old exchange student from Argentina.
They had stayed at the motel where Stayner worked.
Correspondent Don Knapp contributed to this report
FBI arrests motel worker in Yosemite murder
Yosemite National Park
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