6 in W.Va. charged in weeklong attack on womanÂ
By Tom Breen
CHARLESTONâ€” Authorities are investigating whether a woman who was tortured in a southern West Virginia home for more than a week may have been lured there by a man she met on the Internet.
Police were still looking for two people they suspect drove the 23-year-old Charleston woman about 50 miles to the Big Creek home where she was abused, said Logan County Chief Deputy V.K. Dingess.
There, according to police, she was beaten, sexually assaulted and humiliated.
Logan County Prosecutor Brian Abraham said police are investigating the possible Internet connection into what some are calling one of the most shocking crimes in the countyâ€™s recent history.
In 30 years of law enforcement, Logan County Sheriff W.E. Hunter said heâ€™s never seen anything like this.
Itâ€™s â€œsomething that would have come out of a horror movie,â€ he said Tuesday.
Deputies were interviewing the victim Tuesday morning and are scheduled to meet later in the day to discuss the case with Abraham, the FBI and the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s office. The officials may decide then whether to file hate crimes charges.
Bill Crowley, spokesman for the FBI in Pittsburgh, confirmed that the agency is looking into possible civil rights violations.
Six Logan County residents, including a mother and son and a mother and daughter, remained in custody Tuesday on $100,000 bonds each. They are charged in the weeklong kidnapping and abuse of the woman.
All six are white. The victim, who was being treated Tuesday at the Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital, is black.
â€œEvery one of these people who were arrested are no strangers to law enforcement,â€ Hunter said.
Deputies found the woman Saturday after going to the home in Big Creek to investigate an anonymous tip from someone who had witnessed the abuse, Sgt. Sonya 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 victim limped toward the door, her arms outstretched, saying, â€œHelp me,â€ the sheriffâ€™s department said in a news release.
Besides being sexually assaulted, the victim had been stabbed four times in the left leg and beaten, Porter said. Both of her eyes were black and blue. The womanâ€™s wounds were inflicted at least a week ago, deputies said.
During her capture, the victim was forced to eat rat and dog feces and drink from the toilet, according to the criminal complaint filed in magistrate court. The woman also had been choked with a cable cord and her hair cut, it alleges.
One of those arrested, Karen Burton, is accused of cutting the womanâ€™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.
Deputies say the woman was also doused with hot water while being sexually assaulted.
â€œWe have all been praying and asking the Lord to take us through this,â€ the victimâ€™s mother told The Charleston Gazette on Monday. â€œItâ€™s hard to deal with it. We are very angry. … She will be scarred for a long time.
â€œShe wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, â€™Mommy,â€â€™ the mother said. â€œWhatâ€™s really bad is that we donâ€™t know everything they did to her. She is crying all the time.â€
Attempts to reach the family were unsuccessful Tuesday morning.
The Associated Press generally does not identify suspected victims of sexual assault and is not identifying the mother to protect the identity of her daughter.
Brewster, 49, 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.
The state and local chapters of the NAACP plan to meet Saturday to discuss the case, said the Rev. Audie Murphy Sr., president of the Logan County branch. Until then, both he and state president Kenneth Hale declined to comment.