Authorities said Tuesday they are considering hate crime charges in the case of a woman who was tortured while being held captive for at least a week, and they are investigating the possibility that she was lured by a man she met on the Internet.
The victim was repeatedly called a racial slur while her captors sexually abused, beat and stabbed her, her mother said.
Six people, all white, including a mother and son and a mother and daughter, were arrested in connection with the alleged abduction of the 20-year-old black woman.
“I don’t understand a human being doing another human being the way they did my daughter,” Carmen Williams said Tuesday from her daughter’s room at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital. “I didn’t know there were people like that out here.”
Megan Williams, with a cast on her arm, spoke barely above a whisper.
“I’m better,” she said.
The Associated Press generally does not identify suspected victims of sexual assault, but Williams and her mother agreed to release her name.
'Out of a horror movie'
A prosecutor said police are investigating the possibility that the victim was lured to the house where she was attacked by a man she met on the internet, but Carmen Williams insisted that wasn’t the case. “This wasn’t from the Internet,” she said.
Deputies also interviewed the victim Tuesday morning. State, local and federal officials planned to meet later in the day to decide whether to file hate crime charges, Logan County sheriff’s Sgt. Sonya Porter said. An FBI spokesman in Pittsburgh, Bill Crowley, confirmed that the agency is looking into possible civil rights violations.
The woman’s abductors called her the N-word “every time they stabbed her,” Carmen Williams told The Charleston Gazette earlier.
Authorities were still looking for two people they believe drove the woman to the house where she was abused, said Logan County Chief Deputy V.K. Dingess.
The case is “something that would have come out of a horror movie,” Logan County Sheriff W.E. Hunter said.
Deputies found Williams on Saturday when they went to the house in Big Creek, about 35 miles southwest of Charleston, to investigate an anonymous tip from someone who had witnessed the abuse, Porter said Tuesday.
One of the suspects, Frankie Brewster, was sitting on the front porch and told deputies she was alone, but moments later the woman limped toward the door, her arms outstretched, saying “Help me,” the sheriff’s department said in a news release.
Alleged victim may leave hospital soon
Carmen Williams said doctors told her daughter she may be well enough to leave the hospital within a few days, although a nurse said the young woman’s condition was listed as “under evaluation.”
“I just want my daughter to be well and recover,” Carmen Williams said. “I know the Lord can do anything.”
Besides being sexually assaulted, the woman was stabbed four times in the left leg and beaten, Porter said. Her eyes were black and blue. The wounds were inflicted at least a week ago, deputies said.
The woman was forced to eat rat and dog feces and drink from a toilet, according to the criminal complaint filed in magistrate court. She also had been choked with a cord, it alleges.
One of those arrested, Karen Burton, is accused of cutting the woman’s ankle with a knife. She used the N-word in telling the woman she was victimized because she is black, according to the criminal complaint.
Six suspects charged
The six suspects were arrested Saturday and Sunday. Deputies were still trying to determine whether the woman knew her assailants, Porter said.
Brewster, the 49-year-old who owns the home where the alleged attacks occurred, is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and giving false information during a felony investigation.
Her son, Bobby R. Brewster, 24, also of Big Creek, is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and assault during the commission of a felony.
Burton, 46, of Chapmanville, is charged with malicious wounding, battery and assault during the commission of a felony.
Her daughter Alisha Burton, 23, of Chapmanville, and George A. Messer, 27, of Chapmanville, are charged with assault during the commission of a felony and battery.
Danny J. Combs, 20, of Harts, is charged with sexual assault and malicious wounding.
All six remained in custody Tuesday in lieu of $100,000 bail each, and all have asked for court-appointed attorneys.