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It’s been nearly four-and-a-half decades since Colleen Stan left home in Oregon to hitchhike to northern California and ended up getting abducted and imprisoned for seven horrific years.
“Snapped Notorious: The Girl in the Box,” premiering Saturday, July 17 at 9/8c on Oxygen, retraces this shocking crime and offers a firsthand account of the ordeal. Stan, now 64, discusses what it was like to be kidnapped and confined in a coffin-like crate, how her desperate escape occurred, and how she’s managed to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and go on.
In advance of this two-hour installment of “Snapped Notorious,” here’s what you need to know about the still-shocking case.
Who was the victim?
Colleen Stan was 20 years old when she left home in Eugene, Oregon and started hitchhiking to northern California to attend a friend’s birthday party. On May 19, 1977, Stan was picked up by Cameron Hooker, who was with his wife, Janice, and their baby.
A couple with an infant seemed trustworthy to Stan, who’d thumbed rides before. But about 30 minutes into the ride, Hooker pulled his van onto a dirt road and threatened to kill Stan with a knife.
Why is she sometimes known as “the girl in the box”?
When Stan was abducted, Hooker bound her, gagged her, and placed a homemade box over her head to keep her silent, PEOPLE reported in 2016.
At their home in Red Bluff, California in Tehama County, the Hookers kept Stan in a coffin-like crate under their waterbed for 23 hours a day. She was let out of the box to be tortured and raped. She was forced to sign a contract agreeing to be a sex slave and held captive for seven years.
How does mind control figure into the case?
Stan had times when she was freed from confinement and allowed to be unsupervised. Why didn’t she run for her life? Cameron told her that he would hunt her down and kill her if she tried to escape. He convinced her that he had associates -- “The Company” -- who would see to it that she’d pay with her life if she tried to escape. Stan was told her family would also suffer if she disobeyed.
How did Stan finally escape?
In 1984, after seven years of torture and abuse, Janice Hooker told Stan that they both had to get away from her husband. Stan has said she doesn’t know for sure why it took so long for Janice to help her. Case law documents state that Janice was afraid that Cameron was preparing to get more sex slaves.
In exchange for her testimony against her husband, Janice Hooker got immunity. In 1985, Cameron Hooker was sentenced to 104 years.
Any recent developments with the case?
Cameron Hooker could be eligible for parole consideration in September, according to the Redding Record Searchlight. In the March 2021 article, Matt Rogers, district attorney in Tehama County, California, said he communicates regularly with Stan, who is now a grandmother. “She is an incredibly tough and resilient person,” he said.
To learn more about Stan’s case in her own words, watch “Snapped Notorious: The Girl In The Box,” premiering Saturday, July 17 at 9/8c on Oxygen.
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