Colleen Stan: The Girl in the Box
In May 1977, 20-year-old Colleen Stan wanted to visit a friend for a surprise birthday party. When her car unexpectedly broke down, she decided to hitchhike to Northern California. She was not new to hitchhiking. She turned down a car of 5 guys but trusted the next car that stopped for her as it had a young couple with a baby.
When they stopped for gas, Colleen went to the bathroom and she had this bad feeling and an inner voice that kept asking her to leave, but she brushed it off as her overthinking.
She continued to travel with them. When they asked whether could they stopped by and take a look at the ice caves, she agreed as she was grateful for the ride. When they stopped at an off beaten road, he pulled out a knife and forced her head into a 20-pound wooden box. Inside, it was carpeted so it would insulate her voice when she shouted. The headbox was so heavy that she could not lift her head and it prevented sound, light, and fresh air to flow in.
She was driven back to Red Bluff, California. The headbox was finally taken off but she was quickly blindfolded and led into the basement and suspended in midair by her wrist while the young couple had sex. Later on, she was forced back into the headbox. At the beginning of her capture, she was forced into a box where she had to sit up but later, she was forced into a “coffin-like-box” where she had to lie down for almost 23 hours daily.
She was tortured every day by both husband and wife. She was often whipped, beat, electrocuted, and even stretched on a rack. Colleen was Janice Hooker’s replacement where Janice previously put up with her sadistic husband’s actions. Janice and Cameron had an agreement where Cameron, a sexual sadist, could get a sex slave when Janice finally had a child.
For 7 years, Colleen Stan was kept in the coffin-like-box for 23 hours daily. Every evening, he would come down to the basement to feed her and then proceeded to torture her. One night, the Hookers came down and read out a slave contract where it included an organization named ‘The Company’ that enforced slave contracts. Colleen was so brainwashed by that time and truly believed that ‘The Company’ existed and ‘The Company’ would track her down if she escaped. Years into her captivity, she was allowed upstairs for a short period of time for miscellaneous cleaning but even then, she was subjected to torture.
Colleen was reported missing but the investigation went cold as it lacked leads. Her parents considered that Colleen may have run away and was involved in a cult, a culture common in those days.
2 years in, they received a call from Colleen but the call did not indicate that Colleen was in trouble. Cameron allowed the call but he was next to Janice the whole, threatening her that she would be subjected to more pain if she said anything suspicious. Once again, she was very convinced of The Company’s presence.
She was ‘rewarded’ after years of compliance. She got to visit her family with Cameron acting as her fiancé. Fearing for her family’s lives, she did not run away nor raised suspicions on her situation. Meanwhile, her parents did not dare to push for more information, fearing that their child might disappear again.
After 7 years, Colleen finally convinced Cameron to allow her to take a job outside to support them. Even then, Colleen did not attempt to escape. Experts believed that it could be possible because she was too dehumanized and robbed of all senses. Also, she might be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome where she felt empathy for her captor.
Colleen no longer had to sleep in a box but she slept at the back of the bathroom. But, she was not free. She was chained up. Cameron Hooker grew even more ambitious with his sadistic plan to create a dungeon of slaves. His wife, Janice began to have second thoughts. She broke down to a pastor and she revealed the truth to Colleen that The Company was nothing but a twisted lie. And just like that, the spell over Colleen broke and she escaped from her captors. Janice confessed to the police and testified against her husband for full immunity.
Shortly, Cameron Hooker was arrested. He was indicted with 10 counts of kidnapping and raping and sentenced to 104 years in prison. There is a possibility that he could be granted parole in March 2021 due to the prison trying to reduce the population during Covid-19.
Colleen Stan now lives under a new name. She has gotten an accounting degree and supported other women that suffered abuse through Redding Women’s Refuge Center but the trauma left her with
“a string of failed marriages and a troubled child, now in jail”
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