‘Girl In The Box’ Held Captive Under California Couple’s Bed For 7 Years
“There were many times I thought I was going to die,” Colleen Stan says of her terrifying ordeal.
The life of an Oregon woman traveling to a friend’s house to celebrate a birthday was turned upside down after a couple kidnapped her and then held her prisoner in a box for the next seven years.
In May 1977, Colleen Stan, then 20, was hitchhiking from Eugene, Oregon, to California when Cameron Hooker offered her a ride in his van on Interstate 5.
In an interview years later, Stan recalled Cameron was traveling with his wife, Janice, and the couple’s months-old baby, the Record Searchlight reported.
“The husband looked dirty, like he just got off work,” Stan recalled. “His young wife was holding their baby. They told me, 'Yeah, we'll give you a ride.’ I felt this was a good ride, a safe ride after evaluating the situation.”
She couldn’t have been more wrong.
Cameron kidnapped Stan, and he initially kept her bound and naked in the basement of the home he shared with his family in Red Bluff, California.
“I was terrified,” Stan told Closer in 2009. “Janice watched as Cameron tortured me and then they had sex in front of me. I was convinced they were going to kill me. I was tied up and put into a wooden box measuring three feet by six feet for the rest of the night.”
“There were many times I thought I was going to die and many times I would think, 'Why are they keeping me alive?’” Stan said of the torture she endured for years, including repeated beatings, sexual assaults and torture, which included Cameron continuing to keep her captive in the coffin-like wooden box underneath his bed for as much as 23 hours a day.
After about seven months, Cameron told Stan about what he said was a very powerful international organization called The Company. “He compared it to the mafia and said if I ran away, they’d come and get me,” Stan told Closer. “He told me I’d be nailed to a cross and left for days. And by then I was so broken I believed him.”
Cameron’s psychological warfare worked so well with controlling Stan that he allowed her a nearly 24-hour-long visit with her family at her parents’ home in March 1981.
“I was so scared of Cameron and The Company that even when I was alone with my parents, I didn’t tell them where I’d been for three years,” Collen told Closer. “We mostly talked about everything I’d missed out on, special occasions and family news. They were convinced I’d joined a cult.”
“When Cameron returned to collect me,” she noted, “he pretended he was my fiancé.”
Several years later, Cameron even allowed Stan to take a job as a maid at a local motel.
Finally, in August 1984, Janice chose to end the hell Stan was enduring after Cameron decided he wanted a second sex slave, which went against an agreement the couple had made together. Janice told Stan the truth, admitting The Company was all a lie, and she helped her hostage escape.
“I didn’t feel any anger towards Cameron or Janice while I was held captive,” Stan explained to Closer, explaining, “The only emotion I felt was terror.” She added, “But once I started to feel safe again the anger came.”
Months after she set Stan free, Janice went to the police and turned her husband in. Prosecutors granted Janice immunity in exchange for agreeing to testify against Cameron in what became known nationwide as the “girl in the box” case.
Janice also claimed to police Stan wasn’t the couple’s first victim. The year prior to Stan’s abduction, she said she and her husband picked up 18-year-old Marie Elizabeth “Marliz” Spannhake and brought her to their home, where Cameron tortured and murdered her.
Spannhake’s body was never located and neither of the Hookers were prosecuted in connection with her case.
Cameron was convicted in 1985 of kidnapping Stan, using a knife in an abduction, rape, and sexual abuse. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Clarence Knight sentenced him to 104 years behind bars in a state prison.
At his sentencing hearing, the judge noted Cameron was “the most dangerous psychopath I have ever encountered.”
Janice claimed she was also a victim of her husband’s abuse, and she was never prosecuted for the role she played in Stan’s kidnapping and captivity because of her deal with prosecutors.
For more on this case, stream Wicked Attraction: “Kidnapped” on discovery+.