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The Kidnapping of Colleen Stan: The Girl in the Box

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Janisa has a newfound passion for mysteries, murders and other strange events and is thinking of becoming a lawyer someday.

Colleen Stan before her nightmare began. She was 20 years old when she was abducted.

Colleen Stan before her nightmare began. She was 20 years old when she was abducted.

How the Nightmare Began

It all began as an innocent hitchhiking trip. Colleen Stan lived in Oregon and decided to go to her friend's birthday party in California by hitchhiking. On May 19th, 1977, Colleen got into a van that was driven by Cameron Hooker, who would proceed to torture her for the next seven years. Hooker's wife and child were in the car as well, so Colleen was initially certain that accepting the ride was a good idea.

However, things changed for the worse as soon as the van found itself in an isolated area. Cameron Hooker stopped the van and threatened Colleen with a knife. He then locked the young woman in a wooden box and drove her to the family's home.

For the next seven years, Cameron would proceed to torture Colleen and to use her as a sex slave.

Why Colleen Stan?

According to testimonies, Cameron has been using his own wife, Janice Hooker as a sex slave prior to kidnapping Colleen. Janice eventually admitted that Cameron had used her as a sex slave ever since they first began going out. Janice and Cameron made an agreement, which allowed Cameron to find another woman that he could use as a sex slave instead of Janice. That unlucky victim was to be Colleen Stan. The agreement, however, did not permit Cameron to have penetrative sex with his hostage.

Colleen's Life in a Box

Colleen's life was hell from the first day of her imprisonment. Although she was given more freedoms later on for behaving for her 'Master', the girl was too terrified to try to escape.

For the first few months of her imprisonment, Colleen would spend 23 hours per day locked in a box, where she would have difficulties breathing. Her 'bathroom' was a bed pan and she was fed with cold scraps of food. In addition to the lack of air inside the box, the heat was a major issue in the summer months. Colleen was also ordered to stay completely silent while she was in the box. In January of 1978, Cameron gave her a 'slavery for life' contract to sign. Colleen had no other choice but to sign the contract. Her captor also informed her that a secret organization, "The Company", was watching day and night. Colleen was told that this organization would torture her and her family, should she try to escape. This nonexistent entity was Colleen's main fear throughout her life as a slave. "The Company" was the reason why Colleen did not tell anyone about her situation even when she had the opportunities to do so.

As a slave, Colleen had to refer to her torturer as "Master" and had to wait for permission to speak. Colleen's slave nickname was simply "K". It is theorized that Cameron wanted a living version of the female character in the erotic novel Story of O.

Although Cameron refrained from engaging in vaginal sex with his slave, he raped her with implements and engaged in oral sex with her.

Colleen's Little Freedoms

The family later moved to a mobile home in Red Bluff, where Colleen continued her hostage life locked in boxes.

Despite being terrified of 'The Company', Colleen had a slight sliver of hope that she would escape someday. She also never lost her faith in God.

In order to escape from punishments, Colleen did her best to obey her Master in all that he demanded. This obedience resulted in the girl being given more 'rights'. She was allowed to interact with the outside world, help out in the yard and care for Janice and Cameron's two children, one of which was born in the mobile home. It was almost as if Colleen was a regular family member. However, Cameron still continued to use the young woman as a sex slave at night.

'I was just happy to see my family again,' Colleen said when recalling the day this photo was taken. Her captor Cameron Hooker posed as her boyfriend when he accompanied Colleen to visit her family.

'I was just happy to see my family again,' Colleen said when recalling the day this photo was taken. Her captor Cameron Hooker posed as her boyfriend when he accompanied Colleen to visit her family.

Her Lost Opportunity to Escape

Colleen Stan's obedience also earned her the right to visit her family on her own in 1981. Cameron knew that his slave's fear of 'The Company', which was reinforced daily, would prevent her from speaking out about her situation. He was right.

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Colleen was happy to finally see her family again and did not say a word about her living situation. Her family assumed that she had gotten involved in a cult and that was the reason for her disappearing for several years.

The next day Colleen visited her family once again, this time with her captor, who posed as her boyfriend. Once again, Colleen Stan made no attempts to escape, nor to say anything about her circumstances.

The Nightmare Continues

Colleen made no attempts to escape, even when she had every opportunity to do so, but Cameron was still convinced that he was giving his slave too much freedom. For this reason, Colleen spent the next three years locked in the same wooden box where her horrifying nightmare first began. She was only allowed out for a short time at night, to satisfy her captor's orders.

An Unexpected Way Out

Colleen Stan was released from the box in 1983 and was almost allowed to become a 'normal' member of society. Colleen was permitted to begin interacting with the couple's children once again and was even allowed to get a job.

However, it was then that Cameron outraged his wife by suggesting that Colleen could become his second wife. Janice, who was also brainwashed and tortured by Cameron, couldn't stand it any longer. Janice let Colleen know that her husband had nothing to do with 'The Company' and that she didn't need to fear him anymore.

This gave Colleen the confidence she needed to leave. Since she was no longer confined to her box, the young woman walked to the nearest bus station and called her captor to let him know that she'd had enough. Cameron's reaction to this news was a strange one for that of a torturer. He didn't threaten her, but instead began crying. Colleen was set on leaving, so she boarded a bus and went home.

Justice Is Served at Last

Once back home, Colleen Stan tried to lead a normal life and did not inform the police of the nightmare she had lived through. Instead, she maintained communication with her capturer for several months.

It was Janice who then called the police on her husband. However, she did not initially mention Colleen's case. Cameron Hooker had tortured and murdered a woman named Marie Spannhake in 1976. However, Cameron was not charged with murder since that woman's remains were never found.

At his trial, Cameron Hooker was only charged with the crimes he committed against Colleen Stan, which were sexual assaults and kidnapping (and using a knife while doing so). Cameron was sentenced to a total of 104 years in jail.

Where Are They now?

Cameron Hooker had his hearing date in April of 2015 and his parole request was denied. He will be able to request parole again in 2022.

Janice Hooker testified against her husband and did not serve time in jail for this reason. She continues to live in California, but under a different name.

After it was all over, Colleen Stan did her best to lead a normal life. She got an accounting degree, got married and gave birth to a daughter.

The Girl in the Box in the Media

Colleen's tragic story inspired books, music, and crime series episodes. Series that contain episodes inspired by Colleen's experience include: Criminal Minds, Law and Order, Wicked Attraction and Paranormal Witness.

Colleen's experience has also been the subject of several books.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2018 Janisa

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