night in their car parked along Ortega Highway, about nine miles east of
San Juan Capistrano, said Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman
Just one day earlier, Oppy-Stahl, an optometrist, had turned 44, but the
couple waited until Saturday to celebrate. Her 57-year-old husband, an
anesthesiologist, had treated six patients on Friday.
"We just can't understand it," Hal Polley, Kenneth Stahl's stepfather,
said of the killing. "It just seems like you're in one of those Third
World countries where this is a common occurrence."
Now, the couple's friends and family are grappling with the loss of two
people who were known as kind and caring of others.
Stahl gave free medical care to indigent people, Polley said. He owned a
private medical practice in the Pacifica Hospital building and had worked
17 years at Huntington Beach Hospital, including a stint as chief
anesthesiologist, said Kitty Beato, the hospital's director of physician
"Ken and Carolyn were two of the most beautiful people in the world,"
Polley said. "They were good Christians."
And Stahl's hard work and dedication earned him tremendous respect from
his peers, Beato said.
"[His death] sent a shock wave through the medical community," she said.
Stahl underwent quintuple-bypass heart surgery four months ago but had
recovered "beautifully," Polley said.
Stahl's family did not expect him to survive the surgery, Polley said.
But Stahl kept himself in great physical condition afterward, jogging
daily, Polley said.
"At his age, he looked like a man 30 years old," he said.
While her husband was very reserved, friends recalled Oppy-Stahl's
ever-present smile and bubbly personality.
"Carolyn was the sweetest thing on this earth," Polly said.
She treated patients at Lakewood Eye Physicians and Surgeons clinic. A
memorial with cards and flowers was set up in her office.
Rose Cain, manager of the clinic, had a difficult time speaking about the
"It's the saddest time in our life right now," she said. "She's the best
thing that ever happened to us.
"It's just a cruel world. I hope they find whoever did this."
A security guard for Mission Viejo Ranch found the couple at about 10:30
p.m. Saturday night. They were slumped over in their silver 1996 Dodge
Stratus, with the engine running and the headlights on, police said. The
car was just steps away from a call box, which had not been used,
Numerous gunshots had shattered the driver's side window, but police
could not find any ammunition casings at the scene, suggesting that the
shooter or shooters used a revolver or recovered the casings.
But there have been no breakthroughs in finding a motive or suspects in
the shooting. "At this point it's still a mystery," Amormino said.
The couple had driven to either San Juan Capistrano or San Clemente for a
birthday celebration, investigators said.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Sheriff's Department at
647-7055 or after hours at 628-7170.
A memorial service for Kenneth C. Stahl and Carolyn Oppy-Stahl will be
held at 1 p.m. Dec. 4 at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Placentia.