Colleen Stan hitchhiked out of Eugene, Oregon on May 19, 1977. She was kidnapped by Cameron and Jan Hooker and held as a sex slave for seven years. She was locked in a small coffin-like wooden box the Hookers kept under their bed. Colleen was forced to sign a slavery contract and she was told about an organized crime group called "The Company" that could harm her or her family if she didn't comply. Colleen is a survivor.
RECAP Part 2: Colleen Stan was kidnapped by Cameron and Jan Hooker. She was gaining the trust of her captors and was even allowed to get a job as a motel maid. She started studying the Bible and attending church with Jan. On August 9th, 1984, Jan showed up at Colleen's job to tell her that the slavery contract and The Company were all bullshit lies. The two women packed up, grabbed the kids and they left Cameron. Colleen headed home to go back to her family and decided not to tell the police she had been kidnapped and tortured. Jan was eaten up by the guilt of what she had done, so she confessed to her Pastor and the police. Jan also told the police that Cameron had murdered a woman that was missing named Marliz Spannhake. Detectives were trying to piece this story together to figure out exactly what happened and why Colleen didn't try to escape or contact the police.
When Colleen was interviewed, she appeared to already be living a very normal life. She wasn't falling apart, she adjusted to outside life, she had a full-time job, was going to church, and she was meeting new people. She was working at a hospital where she cleaned. This didn't sound like a woman that had just been tortured for 7 years and they weren't sure how a jury was going to buy this. When Colleen told the story of what happened, she was very casual about it and didn't cry or get angry. It just wasn't the expected reaction. When people experience this level of trauma, they may disassociate from that completely. This is is just one theory that I wanted to throw out there. I honestly think that's the only way she could survive this whole thing. Detective Shamblin asked her why she didn't go to the police and she said it was because Jan asked her not to. She wasn't out for revenge, she just didn't want this to happen to someone else. When she thought Cameron was trying to change his ways, she was good with leaving things alone.
Cameron was picked up at his mobile home on November 18th and driven to the Tehama (Ta-hay-ma) County Jail. While he was being booked, detectives told him they had a search warrant for his property and they wanted the key to his trailer. Cameron handed them the key and they saw he had a smaller key. They asked for this as well because they recognized it as a key to handcuffs.
Off the record, word was sent to the District Attorney that they needed to negotiate a plea for Cameron Hooker because the county didn't have the money to try him. Cameron was going to get the deal of his life. The DA said Cameron might have kidnapped Colleen, but all sex acts were consensual and they wanted the charges dropped and those charges held the highest sentences. Originally, with all sentences, Cameron was facing about 115 years if he got the max sentence. If you remove all the sex charges, he would get about 10 years and may do about 4 ½ with good behavior. Colleen had been sentenced to 7 years of torture and he may get less of a sentence than her? A prosecutor, Christine McGuire filed a motion that reopened the investigation of Marliz Spannhake's disappearance. Cameron had to admit to the kidnapping of Colleen Stan to keep the Spannhake findings out of the trial. They didn't have a lot on that case, but it would look worse for him if they could show that he had a very specific pattern and allegedly used that on both women.
Prosecutor Christine McGuire worked tirelessly on putting this case together and she believed Cameron was a sadist and she was furious when she found out that he might walk out of prison in less than five years simply because the county didn't have the money to try him. Would Colleen and Jan be safe when he got out? Would he retaliate? She had one week to figure things out before the plea was scheduled. She called Colleen's attorney and said Cameron could get off on a minor charge because the county won't pay to try him and this violates penal code section 1192.7. It prohibits plea bargaining serious felonies for any reason other than insufficient evidence or because testimony of a material witness can't be obtained, or if the plea won't result in a substantial change in the sentence. When McGuire spoke to the Assistant Attorney General for the State of California, he said that a plea negotiation based on lack of funds is inappropriate. If Tehama County decided not to try the case due to this reason, their office would step in to try the case and they will send the bill to them afterwards. This case was going to trial and the sex charges were no longer off the table.
In the pre-trial, Jan did testify, but it was painfully obvious that something wasn't right. Her answers were very slow and unclear and she kept saying she didn't remember things. Finally, she was asked if she was on any medication and she took an anxiety drug and an antidepressant. She admitted that the medications made it difficult to think clear and she had a problem understanding questions. During this, they got Jan to admit that she lied about being pregnant when she was younger to trick Cameron into marrying her which implied that she is good at lying. It was also established that Colleen was unsupervised and unrestrained and was a housekeeper and a babysitter. The biggest bombshell was when Jan said that she went with Colleen to the bars to drink and meet men.
Judge Knight read the list of charges against Cameron Hooker and there were 16 felony counts: one of kidnapping, with a special allegation of having used a knife, seven of rape, one of forced oral copulation, one of forced penetration with a foreign object, one of forced sodomy, three of false imprisonment, and two of abducting to live in an illicit relationship.
During the trial, the DA laid out a very different version of events. They pitched a story about a love triangle between Jan, Colleen and Cameron. They were able to point out that Jan really flip flopped a lot on her stories and changed many statements. They said that it was actually Jan that found the slave contract and suggested that Colleen should be their slave. The DA also said that Colleen was initially kidnapped, because Cameron agreed that was the case, but after they brought her home, she wanted to stay. She was allowed to go out jogging, shopping, to work, and to the bars. She always returned to the Hooker residence. The bondage was consensual and Colleen was in love with Cameron. The DA said that Jan was jealous of Colleen and that's why she made up the whole thing. They pointed out that Colleen kept contacting Cameron even after she escaped. This was all used to cast doubt on Jan's story.
It was learned during the trial that Cameron Hooker's favorite movie was The Story of O. During a lunch break, the prosecutors decided to watch it. The movie had many similarities to what Cameron had done. There was a slave collar, “O” wasn't allowed to look at her master's face, wear underwear, or put her knees together. There was hanging, whipping, and the main character's name was the letter O, just like Colleen was named the letter K. And O had her labia pierced.
Even though Jan was medicated and had a tough time at the pre-trial, she was the total opposite this time. She was able to get through the stories and she really put an effort into providing clear responses. She was asked why she went along with everything, including the bondage and she said she didn't feel like she had a choice because she was scared to go to hell. She described the relationship between Colleen and Cameron and she knew that Colleen was in love with him in 1980. Colleen started cooking special things for him and would put on some makeup before he would come home from work, but Jan knew that Cameron fell for Colleen earlier than that. Around 1982 to 1983, the two started hugging and kissing at night after the kids were asleep and by 1984, they were affectionate on a daily basis.
They tried to cast doubt about the pornographic evidence in court by saying Cameron couldn't read well. It is true that he couldn't read well, but aren't you just there for the pictures?
Even though Jan tried to answer everything, she seemed to get hung up on things that cast blame on her. She did take responsibility for her role on certain things, but seemed to be flustered when asked if she gave Colleen orders. She said she didn't order her, she asked her to do things around the house. When they kept pushing her, she would respond with I don't remember or I don't recall. In the book, they mentioned that she said this so often, everyone in the courtroom would just sigh. The DA got Jan to admit that she whipped Colleen twice, but she said Cameron made her do it. Even now, she was still feeling controlled by him. Cameron had been calling Jan and writing her letters, trying to sway her testimony. He was saying he loved her and she was feeling a tremendous amount of guilt.
When Colleen took the stand, people found it quite odd that her tone was so flat and unemotional. Cameron smiled at her while she testified. She talked about the day she got kidnapped and a woman entered the court dressed just like Colleen had been that day, in a jeans and T-shirt. Officer Shamblin put the head box on her and shut it. The woman staggered due to the weight of the box and it sent a ripple of whispers through the court. She said that the second day after she was kidnapped, Jan entered the basement and asked her if she knew where she was and Colleen said she was in Red Bluff and Jan said that's not true. Then, Jan asked her what she would do if she let her go and Colleen told her she would go to the police and say she was kidnapped. Jan told her she was stupid and shut the box and left. Colleen explained that she was scared to run away and Jan told her that if she ever stepped one foot out the door, she might as well put a gun to her head and shoot herself. If she screamed or talked too much, Cameron would threaten to have The Company remove her vocal chords.
Colleen recalled a time where Cameron drew a picture of a Y and said it was like a crossroads. One path is to righteousness and one to hell. He said that she was going the wrong way and he gave her another chance to go the right way. God placed her with him so she could get her life straightened out. She contradicted many things that Jan had said in her testimony. Coleen said she never cooked special meals for Cameron, she denied hugging or kissing him, and she said she put makeup on for her own enjoyment, not for him. She confirmed that she did tell Cameron that she loved him, but it was out of fear. She felt that if she made him feel loved, he would treat her better and he actually did. Once she left the Hooker residence, she kept in contact with them because they kept calling her and asking what she told her family and if she was going to the police.
Introduced into evidence was a card from Colleen to Cameron. The outside had a decorated leaf and the letter K and it said Happy Third Anniversary. The inside read:
Sometimes I feel that being your slave has made me more of a woman.
But then there are other times when I feel it has made me less of a woman.
You know how to make me feel good about myself.
And I love you so much for it.
I only wish that my dreams could be fulfilled with you.
Because I feel a strong love and need to be with you.
I'll always serve you with singleness of heart.
She also wrote a Christmas letter:
This is my Christmas letter to express and give my love to my Master.
You ask me to tell you how much I love you, but I haven't ever been able to tell you because I don't know the right words to describe how much I love you, but I seem to be falling deeper and deeper into love with you with each passing day.
I find love hard for me to express with words.
But you bring the passion out in me and it's a way of expressing my love for you.
You've also spiritually inspired me and I can't tell you how much I love you for it.
More than any words I know could ever tell.
It's not easy being a slave, but your love makes it worth being your slave.
I hope that your right about how things will change for the better and that I'll have your child someday.
I promise you I'll give you a son.
I know that you know that I have great faith in God, I read this in St. Luke:
For with God nothing shall be impossible. And I think you know how important it is to me to do everything with God in my heart, I need and want his guidance and strength.
I can't explain how happy it made me feel inside when you told me that if I ever have your child that you would take me as your spiritual wife. I pray it will be someday. That God will recognize our love and commitment and that he'll join us to be one and that even though I'll be your bondmaid (slave) and second wife that no one or anything will ever separate us.
I wish you a Merry Merry Christmas and the best of New Years.
I pray that God will always hear your prayers and always answer them.
And that the Holy Ghost will always be with you to guide you and to give you insight and understanding so that you will always do that which will make your soul feel good.
I love you more than words could ever say.
This is the last card they used in court. The outside said, Just because I love you.
The inside said:
Love is not a single act, but a climate in which we live, a lifetime venture in which we are always learning, discovering, growing. It is not destroyed by a single failure, nor won by a single caress.
You cannot learn to love by loving one person only, for love is a climate of the heart.
My love for you is growing with every changing day. You fill my life with happiness and love.
And I pray that that happiness and love will never end.
Colleen was asked why she wrote the anniversary card and she said she believes she just wanted to celebrate something. They didn't really celebrate birthdays or other holidays. She wrote the Christmas card about how much she loved Cameron because he told her to and he had been drilling it into her head over and over that she needed to have his child.
A doctor examined Colleen and was brought in to discuss her scars. She had scars on the bony parts of both wrists which is consistent with the use of handcuffs. There were more scars on the right wrist, which is her dominant hand. She had scars on both ankles which is also consistent with cuffs and again, more scars were on the right side. The doctor said she had scars on her inner thighs, near the groin, with “rather unusual configurations.” On the right side, she had a roundish scar that was approximately one-third inch by one-half inch, which appeared to be a scar from being burned and there was a Y shaped scar next to it. He said, “The head of this Y had two round balls or round shapes of scar.” On the left side, she had a slightly longer scar with a similar configuration and texture as if it were a burn. It appeared to be electric burns because the scars have just a distinct appearance.
The doctor was asked why the scars would be compatible with electric burns.
He said, “Because burn scars have a distinct appearance. Electrical burn scars round up the skin and make a smooth surface to the scar. These scars are very unusual with the little rounded areas at the top portion, as if that could have been made from wires or something touching the skin.” He was shown a wire that had been seized from the Hooker residence and the doctor confirmed that it could make a Y-shaped appearance with rounded areas at the top. The doctor also confirmed that Colleen had a piercing through her labia.
Another doctor took the stand and presented an article from a magazine that Cameron had and the article was called, “Brainwashing: How to Fold, Spindle, and Mutilate the Human Mind in Five Easy Steps.”
Step one: Seize the victim and spirit her away
Step two: Isolate the victim and make her totally dependent on you for survival
Step three: Dominate the victim and encourage her to seek your recognition and approval
Step four: Instruct the victim and re-educate her to think and act in terms of your ideology
Step five: Seduce the victim and provide her with a new sexual value system
A psychologist explained that Cameron used all of these steps and it's very common for victims to not press charges after enduring this kind of trauma because they don't want to relive the experience. Some people were very put off my the monotone, unemotional way that Colleen explained her experiences, but the psychologist said that it aligns with the effects that you can expect to see from someone who has been in a coercive situation.
Someone may be numb and it causes them to explain traumatic experiences in a blunt way, with no emotion. They could experience intrusive images that are almost like having nightmares during the day, or they may just want want to create some sort of normalcy by getting a job, friends, and jumping into activities.
When it was time for Cameron Hooker to speak, he came off very cocky and he admitted to the kidnapping and said he raped her early on because he knew the statute of limitations was up. He said he kidnapped Colleen because, “I had a fantasy of practicing bondage on a girl who couldn't say no.” He said that he talked to Jan about this and they thought he could run an ad in a magazine to find someone, but he had a different idea after they picked up Colleen. He noticed that she jumped when spoken to and that is why he decided to kidnap her, he felt that he wouldn't have any trouble doing it. He claims that he felt really bad the first night because Colleen kept crying after he hung her from the ceiling and he planned to let her go, but just couldn't bring himself to do it. He said that Colleen had drugs in her purse and he felt that she wasn't a threat, so he was going to release her on the third day, but when he opened the head box, she described almost exactly where they lived, so they didn't know what to do. He said that after the kidnapping and rape, Colleen fell in love with him and agreed to be his slave and stay in the box. She wanted it.
Colleen stated that Cameron had hung her up many times, but he said that isn't true. In fact, he said he rarely hung her because it didn't work. He had no interest in having sex with her and Colleen was too scared, so it was tearing him up inside. He told the court that Colleen was downright sick. He spent many hours in the basement, talking and holding her hand and she just wanted the drugs from her purse, but he said he already threw them away. She got sicker over the next two weeks, sweating and shaking or having withdrawals. He says there was no bondage and Colleen was not restrained and she would always hold his hand. In his version of events, Colleen talked all the time about her past and she was real down on everyone, including her parents. He was in a tough spot and didn't know what to do with her.
Once Colleen was feeling better, Cameron and Jan realized they were going to be stuck with her for a long time and he didn't know how to let her go without going to jail. He did agree that he dunked Colleen's face in the bathtub and held her under, but said it was bondage between two consenting adults. He blamed Jan for the slavery contract and said she was the one that wanted to use it to make sure Colleen didn't go to the police. And it was Jan that gave orders and treated Colleen like a slave. After they gave her more freedoms, they set a date to release Colleen, but it was her idea to stay. She approached Cameron and asked if her current freedom would continue if she stayed. He said it would and she said she wanted to stay. So, they welcomed her to the family. He said that Colleen was worried she would get back into drugs if she left.
He also had a story for the scars they found on Colleen. He said that one time, he hung Colleen briefly and went to look for some straps. When he returned, he found that Jan had taped electrical wires to Colleen's thighs and she had a switch in her hand. Cameron was appalled and pulled the plug out. Jan yelled at him saying it was none of his business and Colleen yelled at him saying he shouldn't be interfering. When he talked about the fact that Colleen and Jan had gone out drinking at bars and hanging around other men, he was a little sad, but it was fine because he was now in love with Colleen and figured Jan would find someone else. He and Colleen were having sex and light bondage on a regular basis and they were talking about marriage and babies. The slave collar was a wedding band and that it's very common to pierce someone's labia among S and M (sadomasochism) and B and D (bondage and discipline) fans.
Cameron testified that his oldest daughter called Colleen Mommy and Jan blew up, quit her job, and stopped dating other men. That's when Cameron made her go around saying goodbye to the neighbors and she spent time in the box, so she was out of sight of the kids. When he brought Colleen home that time to spend the weekend with her family, she called him and said she wanted to leave and that's why they left early. He remembered the day Colleen called him to say she was at the bus station and leaving. She told him the Company wasn't true and she didn't want to cause a divorce, so it was time to go back home.
The Prosecutor asked Cameron why he had the head box built if he never intended to kidnap someone and he said it was actually for Jan. She was a screamer and they didn't want the whole neighborhood to hear her.
It was time for the jury to analyze the case and on the second day, they gathered in the courtroom because Judge Knight found a slight error and wanted to make sure the instructions were clear and reread count ten. The jury had no questions and were excused. On the way out of the courtroom, Cameron Hooker smiled at the bailiff and said, “I know I'm going home tomorrow.”
The jury came to a decision on October 31st which was their third day of deliberation. Cameron was found guilty of ten felony counts, the jury was hung on one count. He showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were read. Judge Knight said, “I would like to say that I know what a terrible emotional strain it must have been for all of you to go through this. Looking back on it, you can say that in a way it's a happy ending, because faith and love-and I mean Colleen Stan's faith in God and her love of her family did triumph over evil. You have done justice, and I certainly agree with your verdict.”
Prosecutor Christine McGuire called Collen Stan to tell her the news, guilty on ten counts. She asked her if she had a comment for the press and Colleen said, “Praise the Lord, justice is done!” On Sentencing day, Colleen asked her attorney to read a statement on her behalf. She asked that Cameron Hooker be locked away as long as possible so this couldn't happen to someone else. Judge Knight said, “I consider this defendant the most dangerous psychopath that I have ever dealt with, in that he is the opposite of what he seems. He will be a danger to women as long as he is alive, and I intend to sentence the maximum possible.” He was sentenced to a maximum of 104 years. Cameron had no expression on his face, but he did have a slight smile when the judge fined him $50k. At the end of the hearing, Cameron turned to Defense attorney Rolland Papendick and said, “I want you to thank the judge for me. I have a library, a gym, and time to enjoy them, and it's better than living with those two women.”
Colleen stepped into the hall with the jurors and personally thanked them for everything they had done. While she was talking to the press, they learned that Cameron had actually called Colleen from jail, just three days after his conviction. She didn't recognize his voice at first and he said, “This is Cameron, and I just called so that you can chew my butt out or say whatever you want to me.” Colleen said, “I have nothing to say to you.” And she hung up the phone and the jail was contacted and told that he couldn't call her again.
When Covid hit, there was a bit of a scare because they began releasing prisoners and and people wondered if Cameron would get out. In California, when a prison turns 62, they are considered to no longer be a threat and they are up for parole even if their sentence was over a hundred years. The parole board denied his parole and determined that he wouldn't be eligible for another 15 years.
Jan filed for divorce on January 28th, 1986 changed her name and tried to make a life for her and her two girls. Colleen no longer has any contact with her.
Each year, on August 10th, Colleen's family goes to the beach to have a party and celebrate that she came home. She said “My first feeling was when I was free and reunited with my family was just, I was so filled with joy. It was just like my cup was overflowing with joy.” She had a daughter and has worked really hard to move on from this ordeal, she says, “I thoroughly enjoy me freedom. Always, always, always. Life today is good. You have to learn how to live in the now and not let the past drag you back.”