Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Case of the Seven-Year Sex Slave

The Truth Comes Out



Colleen returned to her parents, not saying a word to the authorities about what she had been through.  She also did not tell her family and she stayed in touch with Janice Hooker by phone.  Janice asked her to keep the whole thing quiet, at least until she knew what she herself was going to do.  Cameron scared her, but she wanted to leave.

Cameron and Janice, at first separated and then reunited. Then they began to get rid of any evidence that Colleen had ever been there at their home.  Whenever she called, Cameron begged her to come back, but she refused.  Yet she assured the Hookers each time that she would not go to the police.

As she dropped hints about her ordeal to her parents, they began to urge her to turn these people in.  Her cousins made threatening calls to the Hookers.  Colleen told Cameron that she forgave him and that she would pray for him to stay away from his life of sin.  Yet she did nothing further.

Then Janice left Cameron again, this time for good.  Her fear and guilt had eaten away at her.  She needed to talk with someone and she chose the receptionist at a doctor's office.   They talked for almost two hours, and the receptionist thought she was asking for help.  She encouraged Janice to go ahead and tell her what was really bothering her, so Janice let the truth out.  Having told one person, and having become frightened about what might happen to her two daughters, Janice went straight to Pastor Dabney to confess everything.  He was stunned, and with her permission, he phoned the police.

Detective Al Shamblin arrived at the church.  For the first time Janice mentioned Cameron’s connection to the 1976 disappearance of a young woman from the area named Marie Elizabeth Spannhake.  She knew of her nickname, Marliz, and accurately depicted other details.

The prosecuting attorneys knew they would need Janice's help in pinning the charges on Cameron, so in return for testifying against her estranged husband they granted her immunity from prosecution.  She then told a detailed story about the abduction of Spannhake.  It started much like Colleen’s abduction, but Cameron had shot her in the stomach and then strangled her to death.  He drove quite a while, Janice recalled, before he dumped the body.  Yet even with Janice's assistance, the police did not find the woman’s remains.

Janice told them about Colleen and how her husband had brainwashed the girl to keep her under his control.  She provided more details, including how she had helped to destroy evidence, so detectives went out to investigate.  One team questioned neighbors, who insisted that Cameron was "nice," "normal," and "good-tempered," while Shamblin went to Riverside to talk with Colleen.  He found her to be lucid and helpful, if disturbingly detached.  She corroborated Janice’s story, but deputy district attorney A Christina McGuire found real problems: Colleen had had ample time to escape and upon getting to Riverside, she'd never even contacted the police.

But then as McGuire was thumbing through a sketchbook taken from Hooker's trailer, a slide fell out. It was a photograph of a slavery contract—a document that Janice had said had been destroyed.  Here it was preserved and ready for the evidence file.  They also had slides of Janice being hung and bound in various ways.  Another interview with her revealed that Cameron had stalked more women with the intention of making more slaves.  Two rolls of undeveloped film confiscated from Cameron's stash were sent to the FBI for processing.  They contained some pictures of Colleen in captivity, including photos of her naked and hooked to the ceiling or on the rack.  This case was looking better and better.

Officer Shamblin outside the Hooker home
Officer Shamblin outside the Hooker home (APWIDE)

On November 18, 1984, Detective Shamblin drove to the Hooker’s residence and arrested Cameron.  Defense Attorney Roland Papendick was retained for him.

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