Mother, two teens' 1999 disappearance near Yosemite leads to massive search: Part 5

The bodies of Carole Sund and Silvina Pelosso were found in a burnt-out car a month after their February, 1999 murders. Sund's daughter Juli was still missing but no one suspected Cary Stayner.
8:49 | 01/26/19

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Transcript for Mother, two teens' 1999 disappearance near Yosemite leads to massive search: Part 5
Cary had been looking for victims that night. Eventually he spied Carol and the girls through the window of their room, and decided to knock on their door. I knocked on the door, said I was maintenance, had a leak in a room upstairs. Carole answers, and he says to her, "I need to come in and look for the leak." And she said, absolutely not. The girls are in their pajamas. They're watching "Jerry Maguire" on the VCR. What can I do for you? Show me the money. They're done for the day. He persists, says they'll have to move to a different room if the leak goes on. They let me in. I went to the bathroom and checked the fan where I told them the problem would be. When I came out of the bathroom, I pulled my gun out, and I told them I wanted the money and keys to the car. He takes Carole's daughter, Juli, and her friend, silvina pelosso, and herds them into the bathroom. Then he ties up Carole with duct tape. And then strangles her with a length of rope. And when he was done, he bundled her up and put her in the trunk of a pontiac that she'd rented, that was outside the hotel room door. Came back in, and pulls the girls out of the bathroom and sexually assaulted them. Silvina resisted, she was hysterical. He brought her into the bathroom and strangled her. So he takes Juli, puts her into the bathroom in room 510 next door, and then takes silvina's body, puts her in the trunk along with Carole Sund, and returns to get Juli. It was getting pretty late, probably 5:00 or so in the morning. I told Juli we had to get someplace to go and I wouldn't harm her. So I put her in the car, her hands were duct taped in front of her, I wrapped a pink blanket around her and just drove. I didn't know where I was going. I didn't know what I was going to do. The next time Cary Stayner is seen is 100 miles away in Sierra village, when he uses a payphone to call a cab to get back to cedar lodge. He said that he had come down from yosemite with some other people and that they left him there stranded with no way back. As we were approaching yosemite valley, he said he would show me the cabin where he saw bigfoot. And he pointed off to a ways back, you could see there was a cabin. And he said that bigfoot came out, ran around the side of the cabin and into the trees. After leaving yosemite, the plan was for Carole, Juli, and silvina to meet Carole's husband, Jens Sund, at the San Francisco airport. Well, the girls didn't show up at the airport. We started calling the sheriff and the police. I mean we were scared. We thought that they were crashed somewhere, there was snow up there, there's icy roads. As each day went by and there was no trace of these three women, it became a larger and larger story. A very mysterious story. Three people have disappeared at yosemite national park in California. I remember distinctly sitting in a newsroom when the word came that there were three women missing from yosemite. The very last thing that you think of at first is that foul play occurred. These things don't happen in yosemite. The week of Carole, Juli, and silvina's disappearance from el portal, I had been approached, because I was the kidnapping coordinator in my office. Ten days of combing the outskirts of yosemite. There are no leads. This is the largest search that has ever been mounted in yosemite at any time. It included going up and down the roads looking for places where the car could have gone off. I'm just devastated. I can't imagine how three people in a red car could disappear. When covering it, you really were empathizing with the families. We're handing out posters. We're doing everything possible. And the pain that you could feel from the Sund family, and the pelossos, who had come from Argentina. I ask people here, in America, to help us. We went up to el portal, to the cedar lodge, and we started doing interviews. One of the people they interviewed was this helpful handyman named Cary Stayner. He was not at all flustered. He just didn't set off any alarm bells. He even told them a story about Steven. At one point he was opening all the rooms for the FBI to gather evidence. Tonight, a desperately needed break in a monthlong search for those three missing visitors to yosemite. About a month after the disappearance of Carole, Juli, and silvina, there was a big break in the case because a California highway patrol officer reported the location of the missing rented vehicle. This is about 60, 70 miles from the cedar lodge. 20 years ago, I was a member of the evidence response team. This looked a lot different. But behind me is where the vehicle is located. This is a 1999 pontiac grand prix, but it was so completely burned, there was no paint, rubber, plastic, upholstery. The initial inspection of the vehicle, we knew we had two bodies based on the remains that were still in the trunk. So there was not much left, there was no way for us to identify who was in that trunk. The forest where the car was found is just a short walk to Sierra village, where Cary made the phone call to get the cab back to yosemite. Evidence was found thrown free from the car, that didn't burn. There were the car keys, some shoes, a personal CD player, but most importantly there was a camera found. It was a crucial piece of evidence. We get the pictures back, and we have Juli and silvina doing handstands in the room, we see all their pictures that they took going through yosemite. And this is a picture of silvina and Carole sitting in the far bed. We came to learn that this picture was taken about 20 minutes before Cary Stayner knocked on their door. So you look at these pictures of these wonderful, vivacious people. And you just want to go home and hug your family, because it's too late for them. We have recovered two bodies from the trunk of a vehicle, no identification has been made. When the discovery of the bodies in the burned-out vehicle were made, I wouldn't say it affected the community. I would say it affected the nation. Two bodies have been found, but there are still many unanswered questions. This was an enormous story. A huge, huge story. And "20/20" decided to do an hour on it. My producer Jon meyersohn and I went straight out to yosemite to cover it. We had an interview with silvina's mother, and she was the picture of despair and grief. I knew from the very beginning that my girl was dead. How? I don't know. Don't ask me, just felt it. Her mother's intuition was sadly correct. It was silvina in the trunk of that car. Silvina, along with Carole Sund. As a father, I feel terrible. I'm supposed to die -- forgive me. When they realized it was silvina and Carole, then the big mystery was, where's Juli? What are you hoping? That Juli is still alive? Hoping against hope that they've got her somewhere. The realization that there's a third victim out there that may still be alive sent us into a frenzy. And my mind went to, oh, my god, she's out there, she's being held prisoner. Something terrible is being done to her. In the middle of all this frantic searching arrives this letter to authorities with a taunting, tantalizing clue. With a crude map that may finally solve the mystery of what happened to Juli Sund. Maybe, just maybe, we're going to find this girl alive.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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