|“||I want you to thank the judge for me. I have a library, a gym, and the time to enjoy them, and it's better than living with those two women.||”|
— Cameron Hooker, to his lawyer, after his conviction
Cameron and Janice Hooker are a married couple who abducted two women in the late 70s, murdering one and keeping another as their slave for seven years.
Little is known of Cameron's early life and even less of Janice's. Cameron was born in Alturas, California, on November 5, 1953. His family moved often during his childhood and they didn't settle in Red Bluff until 1969 when he was already sixteen. In 1972, Cameron graduated from high school and began to work at a local lumber mill. He met Janice during the next year. Janice was only fifteen at the time, was abused by her family, and had no sentimental relationships before Cameron. As a result, Janice was submissive and she offered no resistance when Cameron called her a whore and introduced her to bondage and sadomasochism, even after he almost drowned her once during one of their sessions. Cameron's favorite game was to hang Janice by her wrists, completely nude, and hit her several times with a bullwhip. The Hookers married on January 18, 1975, at which time Cameron had already informed Janice that he intended to abduct a stranger and force her into sexual slavery so he could have a ménage à trois. At some unspecified moment, Janice managed to extract two conditions from Cameron: he would only whip the slave, but not Janice anymore, so she could get pregnant and have children without danger; and he would only have penetrative sex with Janice.
Crimes, Arrests, and Aftermath
The Hookers picked up nineteen-year-old hitchhiker Marliz Spannhake in Chico, California, on January 31, 1976. They drove her to her intended destination, but as she was getting out, Cameron grabbed her and forced her back into the car. Spannhake was brought to the Hooker home where she was hung from her wrists in the basement, undressed, and tortured for a day. She was then shot in the stomach with a pellet gun and subsequently strangled by Cameron for unknown reasons. The body was later buried in a shallow grave near Lassen Volcanic National Park and never recovered. At the time, the police suspected that Spannhake's boyfriend was responsible for her disappearance because the two of them had an argument just before Spannhake disappeared.
The Hookers then targeted 20-year-old Colleen Stan, who was abducted near Red Bluff on May 19, 1977, when she was hitchhiking from Eugene, Oregon, to a friend's birthday party in northern California. Stan, who turned down an offer by two men just before, accepted to go with the Hookers because Janice was in the passenger's seat holding their infant son. During the ride, Cameron stopped at a gas station and Stan went to the restroom. When she came back, she found a makeshift BDSM headbox in the backseat that wasn't there before. Stan didn't know what it was, but she didn't ask the Hookers about it, and they made no mention of it. Sometime later, Cameron stopped again in an isolated area and Janice got out with the child. Cameron then threatened Stan with a knife, and subsequently handcuffed, gagged, blindfolded, and forced her into the box. The Hookers drove back to their home and hung Stan from her wrists before removing the box and cutting her clothes. Once nude, Cameron whipped her repeatedly while Janice watched. After he finished, the Hookers had sex in front of Stan. Stan was then forced inside a wooden box, only slightly larger than a coffin.
Over the following months, Cameron would take Stan out for a daily session of torture, including whippings, electric shocks, starvation, and the use of a homemade rack. She lost 22 pounds after the first month. In August, Stan was allowed to have her first bath since her capture. In November, she started doing small chores around the house, working nude. Inspired by the BDSM novel Story of O, Cameron took Stan aside on January 25, 1978, and told her that he was a member of an all-powerful, secret organization, known simply as "The Company". According to him, "The Company" had members in all echelons of government, industry, law enforcement, and courts; they enslaved women for fun and profit, and they used high-tech surveillance to track them at all times to ensure that they didn't escape and inform the public. If they tried to, "The Company" would retaliate immediately against them and their relatives. Cameron then presented Stan with a full-fledged "slave contract" granting "Michael Powers" absolute control over Stan's body, soul, and any possessions she might acquire. The contract was signed by Cameron and Stan, and also by Janice (who named herself as "Janice Powers") as their witness. Per the same document, Stan was imposed a collar and the slave name "K".
From this point on, Hooker raped Stan during the torture sessions and whenever he pleased. He fashioned a new wooden box to keep Stan in and placed it into the frame of his waterbed. Sometimes, he slept with Stan and his wife in the bed at the same time, and forced Stan to perform cunnilingus on Janice. Stan was let out of the house for the first time in 1980. Initially, Janice would drive Stan to bars in Red Bluff, where Janice would drink with her and vent her jealousy by picking up strangers and sleeping with them. Later, Cameron made Stan beg for money in Reno, Red Bluff, and Redding. Stan made no attempt to escape as she believed that "The Company" was truly watching her. In the summer, Stan was allowed out of the box altogether but forced to sleep in the bathroom floor while being chained to the toilet. By the end of the year, she was allowed to phone her family and tell them that she was working as a nanny for a "nice couple" that she found on the road. In March 1981, Cameron drove Stan to visit her grandmother and parents. She introduced him as her boyfriend, "Mike", and stayed overnight at her mother's home before he picked her up in the morning.
Back at the Hooker home, Cameron revoked all improvements given to Stan in the past year and subjected her again to the conditions of her early captivity. In 1983, he finished building a pit under a shed in the property and moved Stan's box there. In May 1984, however, Cameron allowed Stan to take a part-time job as a motel maid under the alias "Kay Powers", and also to attend church services with Janice. This lasted until August, when Cameron told his wife about his intent to acquire new slaves and keep them in the pit with Stan. Janice promptly visited Stan at her workplace and told her that "The Company" did not exist. She also told her pastor, who advised Stan to flee. Subsequently, Stan phoned Cameron from a bus station to tell him that she was leaving, and he broke down in tears. Even then, Stan agreed with Janice to not go to the police in order to give Cameron a chance to "reform". Janice also burned the original "slave contract", although a copy was found later. After three months, Janice decided to report her husband to the police, both for Stan's abduction and for Spannhake's murder. Since the police was unable to locate Spannhake's body, Hooker was only charged with the crimes committed against Stan. On October 31, 1985, he was found guilty of ten felony counts and sentenced to 95 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Janice was not charged in return for her testimony, and she continues to live in California under a different name.
The Hookers would drive their two-door Dodge Colt around northern California, looking for young women suitable to be turned into sex slaves. Janice sat in the passenger seat to give the victims a false sense of security, but did not take part in the initial abduction otherwise. After offering a female hitchhiker a ride, Cameron would grab, immobilize, and blindfold her, and then drive back to the Hooker family home. The victims were subsequently brought to the basement, hanged by their wrists, undressed, and whipped while still blindfolded, with Cameron and Janice having sex near them afterward. After a day, Spannahke was shot in the abdomen with a pellet gun and strangled by Cameron, and subsequently buried by the couple near Lassen Park. Stan, on the other hand, was kept alive in a wooden box under the Hookers' bed and allowed out only to get a single meal, wash, do house work, and be whipped and eventually raped by Cameron.
- January 31, 1976, Chico, California: Marie Elizabeth "Marliz" Spannhake, 19 (abducted, tortured, shot with a pellet gun in the stomach, and strangled)
- May 19, 1977, Red Bluff, California: Colleen J. Stan, 20 (abducted, tortured, raped, and enslaved for seven years; she escaped)
On Criminal Minds
Stan's abduction served as a major inspiration for the abduction of Cindi Burns in The Company. Similarities included the use of a sensory deprivation box; a slavery contract signed by both "master" and "slave", burned after the crime is discovered, but still serving as the main evidence of Cindi's purported relationship with her captor afterward; the requirement of permission to speak; and using the threat of a fictional, all-powerful "Company" against the victims' relatives to keep her from fleeing. In regards to the latter, while a so-called "Company" never existed, there was a ring of sadomasochists Cindi's captor was a member of, though it did not work in the exact capacity the captor purported.
The Hookers are also similar to the Reimanns from Cradle to Grave, and Robert Burke and Juliet Monroe from ...A Thousand Words. In all three cases, the abducting couple was formed by a sexual sadist husband and a submissive wife with a previous history of abuse, who tolerated or helped her partner in his crimes as a way to spare herself from his abuse and have children (born to the victims rather than herself, in Linda Reimann's case).
- Wikipedia's article about the Hookers and Stan's abduction
- Spannhake's entry in The Charley Project
- The Encyclopedia of Kidnappings (2002)
- ↑ French for "household of three"