Colleen Stan is an American woman who was kidnapped and held as a sex slave by Cameron Hooker in Red Bluff, California, for over seven years between 1977 and 1984. At the trial of her abductor, her story was described as unparalleled in FBI history.
On May 19, 1977, Cameron Hooker kidnapped 20 year old Colleen Stan as she was hitchhiking to a friend's birthday party. Colleen stated that she was an experienced hitch hiker and had already allowed two rides to go past before accepting the ride with Cameron which she accepted since Hooker's wife, Janice, and their baby were in the car. According to testimonies of both Colleen and Janice, once alone in an isolated area, Hooker pulled off the highway and put a knife to Colleen's throat.
Earlier, Cameron and Janice had reached an agreement that Janice could have a baby if Cameron could have a sex slave. She had her baby and now he had his sex slave. Colleen had been kidnapped for torture and humiliation while Janice reserved Cameron's love and kindness for herself. There was to be no sex with Colleen according to the agreement, but this was later to change.
On the first night of Colleen's kidnap Colleen was strung up by the hands and beaten by Cameron. She was then left blindfolded and suspended while Cameron and Janice had sex together below her.
After her kidnapping, Colleen states that she was tortured and kept locked in a box 23 hours a day until in January, 1978, she was given a contract and forced to sign herself into slavery for life. She said that Cameron led her to believe that she was being watched by a large, powerful organization called "The Company" which would painfully torture her and harm her family if she tried to escape. She was assigned a new slave name, "K", forced to call Cameron "Master", and was not allowed to talk without permission. Cameron wanted his new slave to be like the woman in the Story of O. Shortly after becoming slave K, Cameron started raping Colleen in violation of the agreement he had with his wife. This consisted of oral rape as Cameron did not want to have sex with Colleen vaginally as he considered that if he did so he would be in breach of his agreement with his wife. He also penetrated Colleen with various implements vaginally and anally. The Hooker family together with Colleen then moved to a mobile home in Red Bluff where Colleen states that she was kept locked in wooden boxes under the matrimonial water bed. In 1978, Janice gave birth to a second baby on the water bed above Colleen.
Colleen states that her faith in God and belief that someday she would be free helped her survive and that her greatest fear was not of Cameron but of "The Company" which she said Cameron reinforced on a daily basis.
To avoid painful punishments, Colleen said she tried to be a good slave and that due to this she was allowed out to jog, work in the yard, and care for the Hooker children alone in the mobile home. Even with an open door, neighbors, and a telephone, Colleen made no attempt to escape which she said was due to her fear of "The Company" which kept her from seeking help.
Colleen was even allowed to visit her family by herself in 1981. While at home, Colleen did not reveal the truth about her situation and again stated that this was because of her fear of "The Company" and what they would do to her and her family. Her family thought Colleen must have become involved in a cult because of her homemade clothes, lack of money, and absence of communications over the years. Her family didn't want to pressure her fearing she would go away forever. Cameron posed as Colleen's boyfriend and returned the next day for Colleen. Colleen's family took a photograph of Colleen and Cameron together which shows them smiling and happy. Colleen explained this at the trial as being due to her happiness at visiting her birth family. However Colleen had also explained her unemotional reactions at Cameron's trial as being due to her having repressed her emotions to the point where she was unable to show these.
Colleen then stated that Cameron, fearing he had given his slave too much freedom, took her back to his mobile home and locked her in the wooden box under his water bed and that she remained there in the box 23 hours a day for the next two years. Colleen states that bodily functions were dealt with by her using a bed pan which she hooked under herself with her feet. Colleen has not specified how she dealt with problems caused by menstruation. There is no information as to why she did not get pressure sores from lying naked on a hard surface for up to 23 hours a day, why there was no maggot infestation caused by the unsanitary conditions nor why her muscles did not waste during this protracted period of confinement.
It was stated in court that the Hooker children were told "Kay" (a form of Colleen's slave name K) had gone home and that at night, after the children had gone to bed, Cameron would take Colleen out of the box to feed and torture her and that it wasn't until 1984 that Colleen was reintroduced to the children and neighbors, and allowed to get a job as a maid at a motel. That this was because, as the children were getting older, Cameron knew things had to change and he wanted Colleen to become his second wife and told Janice this, which was the breaking point as far as she was concerned.
Other sources (TV Program Girl in a Box) state that Janice's breaking point came when Cameron started talking about getting five more female slaves
Janice stated that she had also been tortured and brainwashed over the years by her husband and that this had started on their first date. Janice said that she survived her relationship with Cameron by denial and compartmentalization. By August 1984, her world was falling apart. Janice told the police that she went to Colleen and told her Cameron was not part of "The Company." She did maintain however that the organization did exist.
In her television interview for Girl in a Box Colleen told the interviewer that she then went to the bus station and rang Cameron to inform him that she was leaving him (and that he reacted by bursting into tears) and she then caught a bus home.
In the months that followed, Colleen did not contact the police but continued to ring Cameron regularly. Colleen explained this at the trial by saying that she did this because she wanted to give Cameron, at Janice's request, a chance to reform. Three months later Janice reported Cameron to the police.
The police, during their investigation, were informed by Janice Hooker that Cameron had kidnapped, tortured and murdered Marie Elizabeth Spannake who had disappeared in 1976. Unable to locate the remains of the woman and with no physical proof, no murder charge was brought.
Once back home, Colleen went to school for an accounting degree, married, and had a daughter. She also joined an organization to help abused women. Both Colleen and Janice have changed their last names and continue to live in California. There is no communication between the women. In March 2009, an updated version of Colleen's story, in her own words, was published under the title "Colleen Stan, The Simple Gifts of Life" (ISBN 978-1440118371.)
Hooker was in the end sentenced to consecutive terms for the sexual assaults, for the kidnapping, and for using a knife in the process, for a total of 104 years imprisonment. He will be eligible for parole in 2022.
Janice, Hooker's wife, testified against Cameron at the trial in exchange for full immunity.
The case was documented in a book by the prosecutor and was the inspiration for an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit ("Slaves", Season 1) and Ghost Whisperer ("Ball & Chain", Season 4). The Stan case is also referenced in Kathy Reichs' book "Monday Mourning".
In 1996, American art rock band Elysian Fields released the song "Jack in the Box", on their first album Bleed Your Cedar. The song describes the experience of the box that Hooker kept Colleen Stan imprisoned in under the bed he shared with his wife, and alludes to the power Hooker had over her.