True crime story ‘The Girl in the Box’ will air in the UK in September

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A true crime drama based on chilling real-life events is due to air this month in the UK, with some branding it the ‘most terrifying film of the year’.

The Girl in the Box, which will be broadcast by Paramount +, tells the story of Colleen Stan, 64, who was kidnapped in 1977 before undergoing a terrifying seven-year ordeal, where she was tortured, raped and forced to spend up to 23-hours a day in a box by her captors.

According to the show’s synopsis: ‘In the spring of 1977, 22-year-old Colleen Stan is hitchhiking to California when she accepts a ride from a young married couple, Cameron and Janice Hooker.

‘Kidnapped at knifepoint, Colleen will spend the next seven years imprisoned for up to 23 hours a day in a coffin-size box beneath the Hookers’ bed. 

‘When not incarcerated, she works as the Hookers’ slave and child-minder as she is drawn into a bizarre and complex world of obsession and fantasy.’ 

Colleen Stan, pictured before she was kidnapped by Cameron and Janice Hooker in 1977, was hitchhiking to a friend’s party when she was picked up by the couple

Girl in the Box will air on Paramount+ on September 19, and stars Addison Timlin, Zane Holtz and Zelda Williams

Girl in the Box will air on Paramount+ on September 19, and stars Addison Timlin, Zane Holtz and Zelda Williams

Cameron Hooker placed a wooden box over Colleen's head after picking her up hitchhiking before taking her to his home about 30 miles away in Red Bluff, California in May 1977

Cameron Hooker placed a wooden box over Colleen’s head after picking her up hitchhiking before taking her to his home about 30 miles away in Red Bluff, California in May 1977

The film, which stars Addison Timlin, Zane Holtz and Zelda Williams, is based on Colleen’s seven-year ordeal, after which she became known as ‘the girl in the box’ when it was revealed that she had been forced to spend so much time captive in a box.

In May 1977, 20-year-old Colleen was hitchhiking to her friend’s birthday party from her home in Eugene, Oregon.

After letting two cars pass before accepting a ride, she got into the vehicle belonging to 23-year-old lumber mill worker Cameron Hooker and his wife Janice.

As the couple were accompanied by their baby, she assumed they would be a safe option, but would tragically be proven wrong.

After getting in the car, Hooker had pulled over at a gas station to use the bathroom. Colleen has since said that she had a strong impulse to leave the couple at this point.

She has said: ‘A voice told me to run and jump out a window and never look back.’

However, she ignored the voice, and returned to the vehicle. Around half-an-hour later, Hooker pulled off onto a secluded dirt road. Putting a knife to Colleen’s throat, he bound and gagged her and placed a wooden box over her head.

This device, which Hooker branded the ‘headbox’ had been designed to prevent any light or sound coming through.

After driving the 30 miles to the Red Bluff, California home he shared with Janice and their baby, Hooker forced Colleen into his basement before stripping her and suspending her naked by the wrists.

Throughout the seven years Colleen was held captive by Hooker, he raped and tortured her, often keeping her in a coffin-like box (pictured) under his marital bed for 23 hours a day

Throughout the seven years Colleen was held captive by Hooker, he raped and tortured her, often keeping her in a coffin-like box (pictured) under his marital bed for 23 hours a day

Torture devices: Red Bluff Police Department Lt. Jerry Brown is pictured showing the head restraining devices found in Hooker's home in 1984

Throughout the seven-year ordeal, Colleen was forced to endure homemade torture devices created by Hooker, including this box which restrained her head

Colleen was also forced to endure Hooker’s homemade torture devices (pictured: Red Bluff Police Department Lt. Jerry Brown shows head restraining devices found in Hooker’s home in 1984, after Colleen escaped)

Over the next seven years, he would continue to abuse the young woman, who was starved, whipped, and burned by Hooker. 

Colleen was forced to sign a ‘slave contract’ stating she had to do anything Hooker wanted, from sex to the more mundane such as household chores or looking after his children. 

His maltreatment went further: he would tie her to the ceiling by her wrists or leave her for days with a 20-pound hinged wooden box around her head, blocking the outside world.

He built torture devices for Stan, including a stretcher that caused permanent damage to her back and one of her shoulders. 

Hooker would also force her into a wooden box that was stored under his marital bed, keeping here there for 23-hours at a time.

According to Colleen, during these times, she managed to focus on happy memories.

After Hooker's wife Janice helped Colleen escape in 1984, she testified against her husband, who was handed a 104-year sentence for kidnap, torture, and rape

After Hooker’s wife Janice helped Colleen escape in 1984, she testified against her husband, who was handed a 104-year sentence for kidnap, torture, and rape

She told People in 2016: ‘I learned I could go anywhere in my mind. 

‘You just remove yourself from the real situation going on and you go somewhere else. You go somewhere pleasant, around people you love. Whatever makes you happy.’

As time went on, Colleen was able to earn more freedom, and was sometimes allowed out to jog, work in the garden, and care for the Hooker children alone in the mobile home.   

During these times, she did not try to escape, as Hooker had psychologically manipulated her, convincing her that a greater force he named The Company had eyes on her at all times, and that they would ensure any attempts to leave would result in severe consequences. 

The psychological control was so severe that when Hooker allowed her to visit her family alone in 1981,  she returned to him after the trip.

It wasn’t until 1984 that Colleen finally managed to escape, with some help from Hooker’s wife Janice. 

Hooker told his wife he wanted to make Colleen his second wife and bring in more female slaves.

This led to Janice telling Colleen that Hooker wasn’t part of The Company, and helping her to leave.

After she made her way to a bus stop, and phoned Hooker to tell him she was leaving, he was said to have burst into tears.

Although Colleen refused to report him to the police, saying she wanted to give him the chance to reform, he was arrested after Janice went to authorities and agreed to testify in return for immunity.

Hooker, who is now 68, was handed a 104-year sentence in 1985 for the kidnap, torture, and rape of Colleen. 

After Hooker was denied parole in 2015, Colleen (pictured) said she was 'pleased with the results' at the time

After Hooker was denied parole in 2015, Colleen (pictured) said she was ‘pleased with the results’ at the time

Superior Court Judge Clarence B. Knight called Hooker ‘the most dangerous psychopath I have ever encountered,’ the Los Angeles Times reported following his sentencing.  

Hooker, who is incarcerated in the California State Prison in Corcoran, was denied parole in 2015 and told he wouldn’t get another hearing for at least 15 years. 

Meanwhile, after returning home, Colleen went to school for an accounting degree, married, and had a daughter. She also joined an organisation to help abused women.

Her story has been documented multiple times, in dramas, books, and documentaries.

As well as airing the film The Girl in the Box, Paramount + will also broadcast a two-part documentary about Colleen, covering her ordeal over the seven-years she was held captive as well as her experience taking the stand at Hooker’s trial.              

Girl In The Box and Girl In The Box: The True Story both air on Paramount+ on September 19.

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