Everyone has a secret. And if you don’t, then you’re an exceptional person. Most of the time, secrets are not necessarily bad. Perhaps, you don’t want to tell someone how you really feel about them. The truth might just hurt and do no good. Other times, secrets can be criminal – like if you stole something and never told anyone. But every once in a while, a secret is much, much darker. For example, Colleen Stan has kept her deepest and darkest secret from everyone she knows – especially her family for more than a decade.
After falling into a life of lies and torture, Colleen Stan might only have been trying to protect herself by not uttering the one truth her family was dying to know.
When Colleen wanted to get to her friend’s birthday party back in 1977, she didn’t have a car. So, the 20-year-old decided to hitchhike. It would become the worst decision of her life. When a couple in a blue van pulled up and looked completely normal, Colleen hopped inside.
If Colleen had only know that she was with 23-year-old Cameron Hooker and his 19-year-old wife Janice, then she could have gotten out at the gas station they stopped at to refuel. She even felt like she should. But she ignored her instinct and went back into the van with the cruel couple.
When they left the gas station, Cameron drove them into the woods. And then he held a knife to her throat.
Although the Hookers seemed nice, they turned Colleen into his personal sex slave. And he had sadistic plans for her.
Threatened with death, Colleen was blindfolded and gagged and then had a 20-pound box strapped around her head. She was taken to the couple’s home and Hooker threatened to kill her if she made a sound. Meanwhile, his wife watched and enjoyed the torture just as much as him. Colleen remained their prison for seven years and the things the Hookers did to her were unthinkable.
Over the years, Colleen was raped, burned, whipped and more.
And although Janice felt pity for Colleen, she was glad they found her. She would become her husband’s victim and she could relax. Janice would remain his wife while Colleen became his slave.
Hooker began to brainwash Colleen and got her thinking that he was part of an organization called “the company.”
He made her sign a “slave contract” which stated that if she tried to escape the company would find her. He changed her name to “K” and he became her “Master.” She could do nothing without permission. And she spent the majority of time at Hooker’s house trapped in a box under the bed, unless Hooker wanted to “work” on her.
Eventually she became the nanny to Hooker’s children. She gained more privilege but was so frightened that she never thought about escaping. He let his slave go out for jobs and work in the yard. Neighbors thought she was just their live-in nanny. Meanwhile, Colleen prayed nightly and leaned on her faith in God.
Then Hooker allowed her to go visit her family in 1981. She just had to return when she was finished and not tell anyone anything about her enslavement.
Her family had heard nothing from her for years. They thought she was in a cult. But they did nothing because they were afraid she’d disappear again.
After seven years the abuse became so much that Janice wanted to help Colleen escape. She decided to stop enabling his sadistic tendencies.
Janice promised to help Colleen escape if she didn’t tell anyone anything about what happened inside the home. She was so brainwashed that she did keep the secret.
But without Colleen to abuse, Hooker turned his violence on another young woman, murdering 19-year-old Marie Elizabeth Spannhake. That’s when Janice went to the police and confessed everything.
She revealed her husband’s recent murder and the enslavement of Colleen. When police questioned Colleen, she eventually broke through the barrier and revealed the truth. She just couldn’t hide the terrible secret any longer.
This is the box which was placed on Colleen’s head when she was taken
The terrified woman spent 23 hours a day in the crate and only came out when she was going to be tortured, raped or hit.
At first Colleen was chained as she sat up in the box. As time wore on she was transferred to another one which looked like a coffin.
In August 1984 Colleen managed to escape, after Janice helped her. Janice ended up testifying against her husband after she was given immunity, with Cameron jailed for 104 years.
During court proceedings, it was suggested Colleen may have suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, which is when people begin to identify with their captor because of the intense stress they’ve been through.
It is thought Colleen started to feel empathy with Hooker when he showed her the smallest amount of affection
Colleen Stan as she is now
Colleen’s story has been made into a film called Girl in the Box