In 1977, 20-year-old Colleen Stan was abducted and held prisoner in Northern California, spending most of her time in a wooden box underneath her captor's bed. She was often only allowed out for beatings, rape, and torture. Incredibly, Stan was able to survive her horrifying ordeal, and she escaped from her captor's home in 1984 and returned to her family, too terrified by the experience to report the years of abuse and assault to the police.
She became known as the girl in the box, and her story shocked people around the world. Despite her story sounding like something of an urban legend, her story is true. The terrifying details of what happened to Stan — and the crimes of her captor Cameron Hooker — are both disturbing and fascinating.
She Was Kidnapped By A Couple When She Was Hitchhiking
On the morning of May 19, 1977, 20-year-old Colleen Stan decided to hitchhike from her home in Eugene, OR, to Northern California to attend a friend's birthday party. She spent most of the day accepting rides from various strangers, slowly making her way to her destination, when she was picked up by a young couple, Cameron Hooker, 23, and his 19-year-old wife Janice.
Stan had turned down a number of rides before getting into the Hookers's blue van, largely because she believed the couple, who were traveling with their 8-month-old daughter, was less dangerous than some of the other people who offered her a lift.
However, just 30 minutes into the journey, the vehicle stopped in a remote area, and Cameron Hooker held a knife to Stan's throat and forced a contraption on her head that was designed to isolate her from the outside world.
She Was Forced To Wear A 20 Pound Hinged Box On Her Head
After abducting Stan, Cameron Hooker threatened her with a knife, gagged her, tied her up, and forced a heavy hinged box on to the 20-year-old's head. Hooker, who was a skilled carpenter, had constructed the 20 pound wooden box so that it would fit closely to the head of the wearer, and it was lined with soundproofing material, making it impossible for Stan to see and difficult for her to hear.
Hooker spent a significant amount of time designing and constructing the box, and he had it in the van when he was driving around with his wife and daughter, indicating a lot of premeditation on his part.
She Was Forced To Sleep In A Coffin-Like Box
After her first night of torture, Stan was forced to sleep in a wooden box Cameron Hooker constructed to keep the young woman from being able to escape. The box had the dimensions of a crate, so Stan was unable to lie down. Instead, the 20-year-old was forced to sleep sitting up inside the box, bound by chains.
Eventually, the couple moved from their house to a mobile home, so they didn't have a basement to keep their prisoner. Cameron Hooker dealt with this dilemma by constructing another box, which was approximately the same size as a coffin, which allowed Stan to sleep lying down. However, the Hookers placed this box underneath their waterbed, and despite the air holes Cameron had added to help Stan breathe, during the summer months it routinely reached over 100 degrees inside the box.
She Was Confined To The Box For 23 Hours A Day
For the first few years she was held captive, Stan was usually allowed out of the box for only an hour or two each day, often just to clean the Hookers' house or babysit their children. The couple had two young daughters, and neither of the girls realized Stan was being held against her will. In fact, the Hookers' daughters didn't even know Stan lived at their house, much less stayed underneath their parents' bed in a wooden box, because Cameron and Janice told the girls Stan went to her own home every night.
Being confined to this small space for so many years, coupled with the abuse and torture she suffered, left Stan with chronic medical problems, including severe back and shoulder damage.