I Was Held Cap­tive in a Box for 7 Years

A kid­nap­ping vic­tim’s har­row­ing or­deal be­comes the sub­ject of a new Life­time movie

In Touch (USA) - - Reallife -

Colleen Stan couldn’t be­lieve her good for­tune. The 20-year-old was hitch­hik­ing from her par­ents’ home in Eu­gene, Ore., to North­ern Cal­i­for­nia for a friend’s birth­day on May 19, 1977, when a friendly, clean­cut–look­ing cou­ple with a baby in the car pulled over and of­fered to drive her the rest of the way. “I was thank­ing my lucky stars,” she re­calls. Lit­tle did she know the ride would mark the be­gin­ning of seven years of unimag­in­able tor­ture. The cou­ple, Cameron and Janice Hooker, ended up kid­nap­ping Colleen and forc­ing her to be­come his sex slave. They brought her to their home in Red Bluff, Calif., where Cameron, a 23-year-old lum­ber yard worker, even­tu­ally be­gan keep­ing her locked up in a home­made wooden box roughly the size of a cof­fin for up to 22 hours a day. “Life as I knew it had come to an end,” Colleen, the sub­ject of a new Life­time movie, Girl in the Box, tells In Touch. “Ev­ery­thing was taken away from me.”

Her story of tor­ture and sur­vival is bone-chill­ing. The night of her kid­nap­ping, Colleen says, Cameron blind­folded her, chained her to a pipe in his base­ment and beat her. He then placed a box over her head and an­other one over her body. “It was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face,” says Colleen, now 59. “I was gasp­ing for air, think­ing I was go­ing to die.” Her fam­ily at­tempted

to find her and con­tacted lo­cal po­lice, but Colleen had van­ished with­out a trace. Eight months into her cap­tiv­ity, Cameron forced Colleen to sign a con­tract agree­ing to be his slave, and he changed her name to “K.” She was now to re­fer to him as “mas­ter” and Janice as “ma’am” and make her body avail­able at all times to Cameron, who fre­quently sex­u­ally abused her.

Over the next few years, Colleen was given small doses of free­dom. She was able to go for jogs, in­ter­act with Cameron and Janice’s two small chil­dren (neigh­bors thought she was a live-in babysit­ter) and even call home to let her fam­ily know she was OK. By then, she’d been so brain­washed by Cameron that she didn’t dare at­tempt to es­cape. “There were threats made against me and my fam­ily,” Col- leen ex­plains. In March 1981, Cameron even took her home to visit with her fa­ther, his wife and her sis­ters. “I wanted to scream out the truth but I was ter­ri­fied for their lives and mine,” she says. Soon af­ter, he con­structed a new box, which he kept un­der his and Janice’s bed. Colleen was of­ten locked in there with just a bed­pan. “I’d lie there for 22 hours at a time, only be­ing al­lowed out to be tor­tured.”

Three years later, in 1984, a guilt-stricken Janice helped Colleen es­cape. Janice had be­gun read­ing the Bi­ble, at­tend­ing church — and be­com­ing in­creas­ingly fright­ened of her hus­band. “She told me we had to get away,” says Colleen. “She thought he was go­ing to kill us both.”

Jan­i­ceput Colleen on a bus to her par­ents’ home while Cameron was at work one day. “I was over­whelmed with joy,” re­calls Colleen. Cameron was even­tu­ally cap­tured, and in 1985, at age 31, he was found guilty of 10 felony counts, in­clud­ing kid­nap­ping and rape, and given the max­i­mum sen­tence of 104 years (His wife was given im­mu­nity for tes­ti­fy­ing against him). It took time to ad­just to life out of cap­tiv­ity, but Colleen — who has mar­ried and di­vorced twice since her es­cape and lives with her cur­rent hus­band in Red­ding, Calif. — cred­its ther­apy and her faith with help­ing her sur­vive and heal. She has a 29-year-old daugh­ter and a grand­son she adores. “I have my life. I am healthy and whole,” she says. “You carry on be­cause you don’t want to give your per­pe­tra­tor an­other mo­ment of your life.”

— Re­port­ing by Ja­clyn Roth


Cameron Hooker is serv­ing time in a Cal­i­for­nia prison but is up for pa­role in 2030. “I’m not an­gry,” says Colleen (right, on her 20th birth­day, five months be­fore she was taken), “but I’m dili­gent about mak­ing sure this man doesn’t hurt any­one else.”


“I was kept in the dark, not al­lowed to wash, given a bed­pan and fed once a day … scraps or pota­toes,” says Colleen (played by Ad­di­son Tim­lin in Life­time’s Girl in the Box).

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