On May 19, 1977, Colleen Stan, a twenty-year-old hitchhiker, was abducted off Antelope Blvd after accepting a ride from Cameron and Janice Hooker. Stan ultimately survived her captors, but was only set free after seven years of abuse, isolation, and brainwashing. Colleen’s story has been known since then as “the girl in the box” case.
A Hitch Hiker’s Worst Nightmare
Cameron Hooker’s first victim was Marie Elizabeth Spannhake. Her abduction ended up with her murder, although her remains were never found. Marie “Marliz” Spannhake was offered a ride by the Hookers after she and her fiance John Baruth argued during a trip to the Chico, California flea market. Spannhake left the market and began walking. Her plan was to hitchhike a ride from Chico to be dropped off at her home on Rio Lindo Avenue.
Janice Hooker, who later testified against her husband Cameron, described Spannhake with perfect recollection. She recalled her long dark hair, that her nickname was Marliz, that she was an Ohio native, and at the time wore jeans and a sweater.
Janice also testifies that when the three arrived at Rio Lindo Avenue her husband grabs the back of her hair pulling her back into his blue-colored Dodge Colt. Cameron then preceded to shove Spannhake’s face down between the car’s back bucket seat before finding a lonesome dirt road and shoving her entire head into a contraption he constructed and named the “headbox.”
Tortured To Death
Marie Spannhake was taken to the Hooker’s home at 1140 Oak Street in Red Bluff, California, and led down into the basement. At this point Janice tried to calm Marie by assuring her that they would not hurt her and that everything would be okay.
Cameron Hooker stripped off Marie’s clothes and hung her body up on a stretching device he constructed by her wrist. Cameron tortured Marie, but soon grew tired of her constant screams. Cameron quieted his victim by slicing through her vocal cords. He then continued his torture session, using a pellet gun began shooting Marie in her abdomen, which Janice described as “a torture thing.”
Cameron strangles Spannhake to death once he tired of her bleeding in his basement. Cameron and Janice Hooker take Marie’s corpse up Highway 44 and dump her in a shallow grave in the mountains. Marie Spaanhake’s remains have never been found and her processions were destroyed by the Hookers.
“A Happy Kid” Loves His Porn
At the time of his arrest, Cameron Hooker was a mill worker at Diamond International. Cameron was raised in a normal environment, born to Harold and Lorena Hooker on November 5, 1963, in Alturas California. Both parents were well educated although the family often struggled financially. Cameron’s father worked construction and his mother kept house.
Classmates and teachers considered Cameron Hooker “a happy kid” although he became more withdrawn once he entered highschool. He was tall and lanky with no talents or desires to play any school sports. The only class that Cameron truly excelled in was his shop class, a preview of his future work on torture devices he created.
Like most teenage boys, Cameron discovered pornography and fantasized about the female body. However, Cameron realized quickly that he didn’t care for the “soft core” pornography, but was interested in BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance and submission).
Binded His Wife
Cameron met his future wife Janice when she was in her early teens in 1973. Janice was not an attractive woman by society standards, so the attention shown to her by Cameron was a huge motivator in her relationship with him.
Janice was docile and shy, a trait that Cameron looked for. She was the youngest sibling of four growing up and raised by her older sister because of her mother and father rarely being at home. She mostly felt rejected growing up and dreamed of meeting the perfect husband. Janice and Cameron were married on January 18, 1975, when she turned sixteen. Immediately Janice was introduced to the BDSM fantasies that her husband day-dreamed about daily. Cameron would tie up his new wife, whip her, choke her, submerge her head in water, and perform shock and heat stimulation to where Janice believed he would kil her, if only by accident.
After several months of the excruciating pain and torturing from her husband, she made him a deal. Janice agreed that if Cameron would impregnate her with a child, then she would let him bring home “a girl who couldn’t say no.” Her husband could torture, beat, and whip this new girl as long as he agreed not to have sexual intercourse with her. He agreed, and the first daughter of Janice and Cameron Hooker was born.
Her Last Day of Freedom
On May 19, 1977, Cameron Hooker pulled over his blue Dodge Colt on Antelope Boulevard to ask hitch hiker Colleen Stan if she wanted a ride. She agreed and got into the back seat next to the wooden contraption she would later learn as the “headbox”. Also in the car during the abduction was Janice and the newborn baby resting on her lap.
Collen Stan dropped out of school at sixteen and married a man named Tom Stan, twenty-two. Not much is known about Tom, but that their relationship dissolved within the first year. On this day she was hitchhiking up to Westwood to see her friend, Linda, who was celebrating a birthday. Colleen Stan was Cameron’s next victim, and she quickly ended up in the headbox, and then found herself in the basement of 1140 Oak Street.
Colleen Stan would be held captive by the Hookers for seven years before she was finally free. During her time of captivity she would mostly stay hidden away in a box, only removed when Cameron wanted to torture and “discipline” her. She was his slave. Cameron even forced Colleen Stan to sign a ‘Slavery Contract’ in which she gave her entire life to her abductor as his property.
Cameron Hooker threatened Stan with the promise of retaliation from “The Company”, if she tried to run away from her master. The Company was a factious faction that Hooker created and used to make sure Colleen Stan stayed obedient to his ever desire. Hooker claimed The Company profited in human sex trafficking of young girls, and if Colleen disobeyed or escaped, she would be at the whims of this evil underground enterprise.
Signing the slave contract brought with it many benefits for Colleen, such as more freedom outside of her box. Colleen wore a collar around her neck and had her labia pierced to signify that Cameron was her owner, but they granted her more freedoms, including the ability to walk outside, exercise, and enjoy an entire day with her actual family in Riverside.
An Unlikely Love Interest
During her long captivity Colleen Stan fell in love with her abductor, writing him several love notes and claiming that she wanted to birth his child. Both jurors and society would be confused on how a captive slave could fall in love with her abductor, the one who constantly beats and disciplines her.
Cameron Hooker is still alive and serving his sentence, although he is scheduled for parole on March 21, 2021. There is a petition that anyone can sign if they would like to convince the courts to reject his parole. Colleen Stan is still alive and has appeared on many talk shows in which she recalled the harrowing events of her seven years as the girl in the box.