Life isn’t a story, and if it was, then the ordeal of the Stayner family would be too far-fetched for fiction. Over the course of five decades, the Stayners endured the kidnapping of their 7-year-old son, Steven, and his dramatic return a decade later. However, Steven’s story doesn’t have a happy ending, and things only got worse for his family. Steven’s older brother, Cary Stayner, went on to become an infamous serial killer who stained the family name.
Later this month, Hulu will dive into the story of the Stayner brothers in Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story, a new true-crime miniseries. In the trailer for the series, there’s not a lot of happiness to be found. Steven’s surviving family members recount their memories about his ordeal. He overcame years of sexual abuse to rescue a fellow kidnapping victim, Timothy White. For his actions, Steven was hailed as a hero by the media, and his story was adapted as a TV movie called I Know My First Name is Steven.
By Steven’s own account, his relationship with his family was never the same after his return. But he couldn’t have suspected that his brother, Cary, would go on to murder four women. It only compounded the Stayner family’s misfortune a decade after Steven’s death in a motorcycle accident. Steven’s children are still alive, and they were interviewed for this documentary. But no one knows what to make of Cary’s crimes, and even he can’t explain why he murdered his victims.
Jessica Dimmock directed Captive Audience, and the first episode will premiere on Hulu on April 21.
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