The Kidnapping of Colleen Stan – The Girl in the Box
Colleen Stan, the so-called “Girl in the Box” was kidnapped and kept in a box for seven years!
Her torment was among the most brutal and longest such cases of this type of sadistic imprisonment. The perpetrators where a seemingly ordinary couple – Cameron and Janice Hooker.
Stan’s ordeal all began when the then 20-year-old hitchhiked out of her Eugene, Oregon hometown on May 19, 1977. She was careful about whom she took a ride from. She turned down a lift from a group of young men, understanding the small but serious risk inherent to what she was doing. But when the Cameron’s slowed down to offer her a ride, it seemed safe enough — they were a couple with a baby, after all.
But what followed was a misery of unspeakable depth and duration.
After pulling onto a side road under the guise of sightseeing, Cameron held Stan at knifepoint and brought her back to the couple’s home in Red Bluff, California. There, he stripped her naked, hung her by her arms from the basement rafters, and whipped the young woman repeatedly before having sex with his wife in Stan’s blindfolded presence.
After years of being abused, degraded, repeatedly sexually assaulted, and kept locked in a box beneath the couple’s bed, Stan was forced to sign a contract saying that she was Cameron Hooker’s slave.
At times he let her out, allowing her to work around the house, look after the couple’s children, and even go for a jog or to visit her family, but by then he had conditioned her to believe that she and her family were being observed by a secretive organization called “The Company” that would kill her family if she tried to escape.
A Taste of Freedom
Surprisingly, in March 1981, Stan was allowed to visit her family by herself for approximately 24 hours. In May 1984, she was allowed to start working as a maid at an area hotel. Stan was also afforded opportunities to go jogging unsupervised. But all the while, she never ran away, because she believed the story about “The Company.”
Despite the occasional bursts of freedom that were afforded to her, Stan was locked in a wooden box beneath the Hookers’ waterbed for 23 hours a day for years at a time.
In 2016, a Lifetime movie “Girl in the Box” was made about Stan’s abduction.
Michele Galietta, a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who has done research on violent offenders, psychopathy and trauma, tells A&E Real Crime that Stan’s belief in “The Company” makes sense when taken in the larger context of her kidnapping.
“It sounds a little unbelievable, but ask yourself: Is not the fact that she’s kept in a box under a bed completely, wildly unbelievable?” Galietta asks. “If everything you’ve ever thought in terms of predictability and safety is taken away—what is left of the psyche? This is not a one-time rape or a one-time attack. This was pervasive, for years.”
After more than seven years of this torment, Cameron Hooker wanted Stan to become his “second wife,” which prompted Janice Hooker to finally reveal to Stan that Cameron was not part of “The Company”—though she did still insist that the organization was real.
Stan departed the house, phoning Cameron Hooker from a bus station to tell him that she was leaving. Still, her fear and brutal conditioning at Hooker’s hands prevented her from going to the police. It was ultimately Janice Hooker who turned her husband in three months later. She alleged that Cameron had also kidnapped, tortured, and murdered Marie Elizabeth Spannhake a year before kidnapping Colleen Stan. Spannhake’s body was never found.
Trial and Conviction of Cameron Hooker
Between Janice’s testimony, Colleen’s testimony and evidence collected at the scene—notably a copy of the master-slave contract—Cameron Hooker was convicted of kidnapping, using a knife in an abduction, rape and sexual abuse on October 31, 1985. He was sentenced to 104 years in prison on November 22, with judge Clarence Knight remarking at the time that Hooker is “the most dangerous psychopath I have ever dealt with…[who] will be a danger to women as long as he is alive.”
Hooker is currently serving his sentence at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran. In 2014, he was denied parole for 15 more years. However, because COVID-19 has inspired new releases from prison, there is a chance Hooker could come up for parole again THIS YEAR — something that the local sheriff’s association vehemently opposes.