Photo of Colleen Stan also known as “The Girl in The Box”
Colleen Stan was a 20-year-old female who was abducted and forced as a sex-slave by a couple on May 19, 1977 while hitchhiking from her hometown of Eugene, Oregon to Red Bluff, California to visit a good friend who lived in Westwood. She had wanted to surprise her friend for her birthday, which was coming up soon and she was willing to travel the 400 miles to do so.
Of course Colleen knew that walking the 400 miles would be crazy. She figured she’d hitchhike down Interstate 5, which was very popular to do in the 70’s despite the obvious dangers.
She made good time, catching rides that took her pretty far along her way. By the afternoon, she had gotten 350 miles towards her destination to the town of Red Bluff and with less than 60 miles to go, she was actually going to be earlier then she initially anticipated.
She evaluated each person who stopped to offer rides to make sure they “appeared safe”, and had even turned down two potential rides when she did not feel right about them, so when a blue Dodge Colt stopped on the road with a man, woman and baby inside, Colleen was relieved and did not hesitate to get in the vehicle.
The couple introduced themselves as Cameron and Janice Hooker. They were young, clean-cut and friendly and Colleen remembered hoping into the backseat overjoyed.
“I was thanking my lucky stars,” she would later say in an interview.
Cameron Hooker (left) and Janice Hooker (right)
The Hookers were making friendly conversation, asking where she was heading, and Colleen was very comfortable until she noticed Cameron looking at her through the rare-view mirror, which gave her a bad gut feeling. But, despite her instincts and an opportunity to run while at a gas station restroom, she stayed and rationalized that man wouldn’t do anything to her in front of his wife and child and got back into the vehicle and they drove off.
They drove for another mile or so until Cameron appeared to make up his mind about something.
The Hookers mentioned that they were very close to some spectacular ice caves and they wanted to make a quick stop. A passive Colleen would have rather forgo the trip to see ice caves and gone straight to her friend’s home but she didn’t object and figured a quick stop wouldn’t hurt. She was already making good time, right?
Cameron drove down a dirt road that seemed to take them to the middle of nowhere and then stopped the car, turning the key to shut off the engine. His wife got out of the car holding the baby. Suddenly Colleen found a knife pointed against her throat. Cameron ordered her to put her hands above her head and asked her if she was going to do whatever he said. She froze in fear. She didn’t know what else to say except, “Yes.” He then handcuffed, blindfolded, bound, and gagged her.
He placed a large, metal-hinged box made out of plywood over Colleen’s head. It was heavy and had dense insulation in between its double walls, and a neck hole that near choked her. The interior was carpeted, which impeded her ability to breathe. Wearing this, she could not eat, drink, hear, or see.
Cameron then covered her with something heavy which to Colleen, felt like her sleeping bag she brought with her.
She heard the car start back up again and sobbed to herself, wondering what was going to happen. After feeling the car stop for a few minutes, it started back up only to stop again a short time later.
The Hooker’s had taken their new victim to their home.
Google map showing the house that the Hooker’s lived and kept Colleen as a sex slave
Inside a house, Cameron removed the box that he’d placed over her head. He then led Colleen down some steps into a dark cellar. He indicated that she was to stand on a Coleman ice chest and then told her to lift her hands over her head. Then he used a leather strap to tie her wrists to pipes. As he removed each item of her clothing, she felt him trembling. She was still blindfolded, but she could sense that he was building up to something. Uncomfortable as all of this was, it was nothing compared to what came next.
He removed the chest that was supporting her weight, and she hung there, suspended in the air. Colleen kicked and screamed to be let down. He then told her, in a sarcastic tone, to “go ahead and scream,” And told her that if she continued screaming that he will cut her vocal chords, like he did with past victims, leading her to believe she wasn’t the first. He then left her hanging in the downstairs cellar by herself.
He started to hit her with something that hurt, both front and back. Colleen shrieked out for help, but that only made him hit her more. She realized he was using a whip. He then left her hanging, with her tiptoes just barely brushing something. She could see beneath the blindfold that a pornographic magazine lay on the floor, featuring a naked woman hung up just as she was.
Shortly after being tortured, His wife came downstairs and the both of them had sex right in front of Colleen, as some sort of ‘celebration’ for their new ‘sex-slave.’
After that, he made her sit inside another locking box, and when he closed it, she discovered that she could not move. Then he placed the head box back on her head. She was now completely immobilized and barely able to breathe. She began to scream, drawing her captor back. He placed a strap over her chest that constricted her breathing even more, forcing her to stop making noise. Then he left her like that for a very long and frightening night. She thought she was going to die. Her simple wish that morning to surprise her friend and wish her happy birthday, had turned into the worst experience of her life, and it had only just begun.
She would spend the next seven years, until she was 27, kept against her will. Raped, tortured, abused, starved and kept in a box, humiliated and degraded to the point that she was considered brainwashed, and was too fearful to ask for help. She was made to wear the head-gear and gag daily and slept in “the box”, which kept her from seeing, hearing, eating, and reduced her capacity to breath.
The box, shown re-constructed as evidence during the trail of the Hookers
A sketch of what Colleen would have appeared like in the box
She was referred to as ”K” and had been so malnourished, her hair started falling out and she started losing a large amount of weight.
Click CRIME LIBRARY for the full story and read more on Colleen Stan and how she managed to finally escape her abductors and alert authorities.
Photo of Colleen Stan which was taken at Cameron Hookers trail
Birthday photo of Colleen Stan
Photo of Colleen Stan, taken decades after her kidnapping ordeal. Colleen had her own words of wisdom for another kidnapped survivor, Jaycee Lee Dugard, the child kidnapped at age 11 and who was discovered 18 years later as a mother of two, still being held captive by her abductors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido. – CBS Exclusive: Woman Imprisoned in Coffin for 7 Years Has Special Message for Jaycee Dugard