WITH her long wavy hair and charming smile, 20-year-old Colleen Stan knew she'd have no problems hitching a lift to her mate's birthday.
And when a smiling a young couple with a baby pulled over to pick her up, she thought she'd struck lucky.
Yet terrifyingly, instead of dropping her off at the party, the couple drove back 300 miles to their remote home in Red Bluff, California, where Cameron Hooker, 23, and his wife Janice locked her in a coffin-like box.
The monsters kept her there, under the couple’s bed, for 23 hours a day – only letting her out when they decided they wanted to rape or torture her.
She was beaten, electrocuted and even stretched on a rack by sadist Hooker, who made her sign a “slave” contract and threatened to kill her and her family if she escaped.
Colleen’s horrific ordeal – which began on May 19th 1977 – is retold in the film The Girl In The Box.
Locked in a box and hung from the ceiling as captors had sex
Colleen said that, while she often hitchhiked, she had had a inexplicable bad feeling about the couple during the drive.
A few miles into the journey, Hooker stopped at a service station, to let Colleen use the bathroom.
“A voice told me to run and jump out a window and never look back," she told People Magazine, admitting she felt weird vibes from her new chauffeur.
But, telling herself she was being silly, she ignored the alarm bells and climbed back in the car.
It was then she spotted a curious object – a heavy wooden box with hole on one side on the seat next to her.
"[Cameron] had taken this wooden box and set it on the back seat," she says. "I didn’t know what it was. But I later found out it was a 'head' box."
Half an hour later Hooker drove down a dirt track, where he bound and gagged Colleen before locking her head into the 20lb hinged box – purpose-built by the skilled carpenter and lined with sound-proof material to keep her quiet.
After arriving at the couple's home, a terrified Colleen was taken out of the box and hung by chains from rafters in the basement.
Still blindfolded, Hooker raped and beat her, then “celebrated” her capture by having sex with Janice on a table below her.
“I was terrified,” Colleen told Closer. “Janice watched as Cameron tortured me and then they had sex in front of me. I was convinced they were going to kill me."
Locked in a box for 23 hours a day
That night, Colleen froze in fear as she was chained up and forced into a three foot by six foot wooden crate which was too short for her to lie down, meaning she was forced to sit up 24/7.
When the couple moved to a remote mobile home, soon after, Hooker built a coffin-shaped box which went under their bed which he locked Colleen in for 23 hours a day.
Barely able to move and trapped in the dark, she was forced to use a bed pan when she needed the loo – manoeuvring it into place with her feet.
A fan blew air through one small hole in the box – which still reached 38C in hot summers – and she was forbidden from making a noise.
Colleen wasn't even allowed out of the box when Janice gave birth to their second child on the bed.
She was starved and deprived of water and at night she was taken out to be burned, electrocuted, whipped and ritualistically raped.
Terrified 'the Company' would kill her if she escaped
Colleen was also brainwashed into believing Hooker was part of a shadowy organisation called The Company – who would "nail her to a cross" or shoot her if she tried to escape.
“His wife told me if you step outside the door without permission from us, you might as well put a shotgun to your head and pull the trigger,” she later revealed.
“Hooker said, ‘If you don’t do as I say, I’ll have people go hurt your family.’”
Increasingly compliant and desperate to escape his sadistic attacks, Colleen was forced to sign a “slave” contract.
She was renamed “K” and made to call Cameron “Master” and his wife “Ma’am”.
Amazingly, Cameron even took her to visit her parents, three years into her captivity and, despite being left alone with them she convinced them he was her boyfriend and she was happy.
Although they suspected she may have joined a cult, they accepted her word, taking a picture of the happy couple and then waving them on their way.
As time went on Colleen was allowed out of the box for longer periods, to care for the children and work in the yard – but she was too terrified of the Company to escape.
Hooker decided to make Colleen his second wife – which upset Janice so much that she decided to come clean and told Colleen that the Company she was so scared of didn’t exist.
While initially, Janice had seemed to enjoy the sadistic torture of Colleen she later told the girl that she had also been subjected to sexual assault and beatings from the moment she met Cameron at the age of 15.
During their sick sex sessions he would whip her, suspend her from trees in handcuffs and even submerge her head in water to the point of near drowning and, when she didn't comply, he beat her.
Desperate, she had entered into a contract with her husband which allowed him to kidnap and imprison a sex slave in order to give him a new target for his sadistic abuse – and Colleen was that victim.
In August, 1984, Janice drove Colleen to a bus station before fleeing with her two daughters.
Bizarrely, Colleen then phoned Hooker to say she was leaving him – and he burst into tears.
Incredibly, she didn’t report her kidnap and abuse to the police for months, phoning Hooker several times in the hope he would “reform.”
Instead, it was Janice that finally shopped her husband to the police – blaming him for the kidnap, torture and murder of Marie Elizabeth Spannhake, who disappeared in January 1976.
Janice testified against her husband and was given immunity. Hooker was jailed for 104 years.
During court hearings, it was suggested Colleen suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, which occurs when people begin to love their captor because of the intense stress they've been under.
Colleen said she began to care for Hooker when he showed her the smallest amount of affection – allowing her to celebrate her birthday and giving her a bible.
She later said she coped with her ordeal by compartmentalising it.
She told People magazine: “I learned I could go anywhere in my mind. You just remove yourself from the real situation going on and you go somewhere else. You go somewhere pleasant, around people you love. Whatever makes you happy.”
After the trial Colleen, now 62, studied for an accountancy degree and had a string of failed marriages as she struggled to cope with her past.
“Your life is just in limbo when you’re in captivity,” she said. “Once you get that freedom back and you have that choice again, it’s just like the gates open…And you just run for it.
"I have to accept the fact that it happened because it did," she says. "I don't let it affect my life now because to me, it's over."
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