More Details Arise in W.Va. Torture Case

The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; 4:17 AM

LOGAN, W.Va. -- The list of horrors allegedly endured by a woman at the hands of six people in a remote trailer grew during the suspects' court hearings _ leaving the woman's mother sobbing.

Reading Tuesday from a statement 20-year-old Megan Williams gave deputies the day she was rescued from the ramshackle home, a sheriff's deputy said she had been stabbed with what she described as a butcher knife and beaten with wooden sticks and fly swatters.

She said she was sexually assaulted, doused with hot water, forced to eat animal feces, and taunted with racial slurs. Among the new allegations, she said hot wax was poured on her, and that two of her captors forced her to drink a cup of their urine.

Carmen Williams, the victim's mother, left the preliminary hearing of one of the defendants in tears Tuesday after listening to what her daughter allegedly experienced.

Charges against most of the six suspects were upgraded Tuesday. All six, who are white, now face charges of kidnapping, which carries a maximum life sentence. Four of the defendants had faced lesser charges before Tuesday's filings.

Megan Williams' statement said the defendants told her they didn't like black people and that they were going to hang her, though no hate crime charges were filed.

"They told me if I tried to get out they was going to hit me and stuff. I was scared of them," Logan County Sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey Robinette read from Williams' statement.

Some of Williams' supporters have urged the state to file hate crime counts. Prosecutors have not ruled out such a move but have said they are focused on crimes with the toughest penalties and note that the maximum sentence for a hate crime is just 10 years.

The Associated Press generally does not identify suspected victims of sexual assault, but Williams and her mother agreed to release her name. Carmen Williams said she wanted people to know what her daughter had endured.

Megan Williams' ordeal ended when an anonymous tip led police to the home Sept. 8. Deputies are still trying to determine how long Williams was held.

Kidnapping and sexual assault charges, along with additional counts of battery, were filed against Karen Burton, 46; her daughter, Alisha Burton, 23; and George A. Messer, 27, all of Chapmanville. They also face additional counts of battery.

Danny J. Combs, 20, of Harts, now faces a kidnapping charge that carries life in prison. He originally was charged with sexual assault and malicious wounding. Prosecutors added two more sexual assault charges, which each carry a maximum of 35 years in prison.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Associated Press