Colleen Stan was a 20-year-old hitchhiking to a friend’s birthday party near Red Bluff, California, in 1977 when she was picked up by a young couple in a blue van. Since they had a child in the backseat, Stan thought that they seemed “safe.” But the couple’s sweet and innocent appearance hid a dark reality: The husband, Cameron Hooker, was a sadist with plans to abduct Stan to serve as his personal sex slave.
He put a knife to Stan’s throat before taking her to an isolated location, where he raped and tortured her — but that horror was just beginning. Hooker constructed a coffin-sized box, and forced Stan to climb in before sliding it under the bed — where she would stay for the next seven years.
Stan, whose gave an intimate, first-person interview to Investigation Discovery for the upcoming documentary Bound in a Box: The True Story of Colleen Stan, described the abuse that Hooker subjected her to, including subjecting her to such torture as beating her with whips, electro-shocking her, and burning her. He renamed her “K“, and told her that he worked for a powerful organization called “The Company” that would punish her if she disobeyed.
His wife Jan was complicit in the abuse, and referred to Stan as a “piece of furniture.”
“She kind of treated me like I was having an affair with her husband. They had no qualms about hurting me,” Stan said. “He had finished building this coffin-sized box; put chains around my neck; run the chains down my body. He had put a blower that would blow in air.
And then he would keep me in there for like 22, 23 hours a day. It was just absolutely pitch-black in this box. Totally dark. I had claustrophobia so terribly bad. I would get really anxious and focus on being locked up in the box and listening to that fan next to my head just going on and on and on, just feeling like I was going to lose my mind.”
Hooker wrote up a contract for Stan that “basically said that he owned me body and soul,” according to CBS News. She was forced to work, watching the children while the couple worked, and preparing their children’s meals. Indeed, she was shocked and confused by the fact that the couple was able to combine her torture with loving parenting. “I never saw him or his wife be anything but loving or caring to their daughter,” she said.
Hooker would torture and rape her before having what he referred to as “cuddle time“, where he would tell Stan that he loved her and that everything was going to be okay. “I couldn’t comprehend how someone could love someone and hurt them the way that he hurt me,” she said.
Over the next several years, Stan became totally brainwashed. At one point, Hooker handed her a gun. To test her loyalty, he told her to put it in her mouth and pull the trigger — and she obeyed. Luckily for Stan, no bullet was discharged, although she said that if she had ended up killing herself, she wouldn’t have cared.
Shockingly, after 3 years and 10 months in captivity, in 1981 Hooker took her home for a visit with her family and left them with her overnight. Not only did she say nothing about the abuse — at one point, even posing for a photo with Hooker when he came to pick her up — she went back again the next day to live in the box for another three and a half years. Stan explained that Hooker had warned her that, if she said a word about what was going on, his “men” would storm into the house and kill her parents and her and anyone inside the instant she opened her mouth.
Stan lived in that box for another three and a half years, during which her stints in the box were interrupted by occasional acts of kindness by the couple, including baking her a cake for her birthday and giving her a Bible inscribed with their names. This is when, according to Stan, “things began to change.”
She and Jan began studying the Bible together, which Stan believes helped the woman to humanize her. Hooker had plans to abduct more women, and told Stan that she would have to help him “train” them.
Eventually, Jan confessed to Colleen that her husband did not really work for “The Company” and she went to the authorities at the behest of her minister. Jan informed the Red Bluff Police that Hooker had kidnapped, tortured, and murdered Marie Elizabeth Spannhake, who had disappeared in 1976, but authorities were unable to locate her remains. Hooker was eventually tried and sentenced to a total of 104 years in prison.
Jan was never prosecuted due to the theory that she too had been abused and was scared to death of her husband.
Colleen now works as an advocate for abused women.
Main image: Colleen Stan [Investigation Discovery (screenshot)]