Authorities are thinking about hate crime charges in the case of a black woman who was tortured by six whites while being held captive for at least a week. Perhaps, 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.
The six people, who included a mother and son and a mother and daughter, were arrested in connection with the alleged abduction of the 23-year-old 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.
The case is "something that would have come out of a horror movie," Logan County Sheriff W.E. Hunter said. He said all six "are no strangers to law enforcement."
Deputies 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.
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 woman's abductors used a racial slur reserved for blacks "every time they stabbed her," the woman's mother told The Charleston Gazette.
The woman underwent surgery for leg wounds, Dingess told the paper.
Deputies found the woman Saturday when they went to the house in Big Creek, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) 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.
Logan County Prosecutor Brian Abraham said police are investigating the possibility that the woman had been lured to the house by a man she met on the internet.
Besides being sexually assaulted, the woman had been 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.
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."
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.
Deputies say the woman was also doused with hot water while being sexually assaulted.
"She wakes up in the middle of the night screaming 'Mommy,"' the mother told the paper. "What's really bad is that we don't know everything they did to her. She is crying all the time."
The Associated Press normally does not name victims of suspected sex crimes, and is not identifying the mother to protect the identity of her daughter.
The six suspects were arrested Saturday and Sunday. Deputies were still trying to determine whether the woman knew her assailants, Porter said.
They face a range of charges, including kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding, battery and giving false information. Not all the charges apply to each individual.
All six remained in custody Tuesday in lieu of $100,000 (72,490 EUR) bail each, and all have asked for court-appointed attorneys.