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More Details Arise in W.Va. Torture Case|
More Details Emerge of the Horrors Allegedly Endured by Woman in West Virginia Torture Case
By TOM BREEN
The Associated Press
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.
Three counts of misdemeanor battery were added to the charges against Frankie Brewster, who owns the home where the suspected assault took place. She also is charged with kidnapping, first-degree sexual assault and giving false information to police. An unlawful malicious wounding charge was dropped.
In a statement to deputies, Brewster detailed her role and implicated others, saying "I just want to come clean." Brewster also is accused of forcing Williams to perform oral sex on her.
A sixth defendant, Bobby Brewster, 24, who is the son of Frankie Brewster, is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and assault during the commission of a felony. Police have said he had a previous relationship with Williams.
Williams said in her statement Tuesday that she was raped at knifepoint by Combs in the trailer's bathroom, tied with a cable cord and choked by Karen Burton, doused with hot wax by Messer, and stabbed by Bobby Brewster.
Sheriff's Deputy Rick Goodman testified Tuesday that Brewster told deputies that the six defendants were afraid to let Williams go because she might tell on them. They also talked about killing her.
Karen Burton, who was arraigned by video teleconference from jail, said, "Oh, hell no," when informed of the sexual assault charge against her. The other defendants said only "yes, sir" and "no, sir" during their arraignments.
In another courtroom Tuesday, Megan Williams answered outstanding warrants from three counties charging her with crimes involving worthless checks. She was released on $8,000 bond.
Williams, who clutched a small teddy bear in court, was wearing a brace on her right hand and a bandage on her left ankle. She was accompanied by her parents, and her mother held her through portions of the proceeding. Williams' mother also accompanied her during a brief period in a holding cell.
Hearings on the charges will be held in each county. Williams' father, Matthew, told Magistrate Ward Harshbarger, "She'll be there."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Karen Burton, 46, of Chapmanville, W.Va., (Left) George Messer (Center) and Alisha Burton, 23, of Chapmanville, W.Va., (Right) appear in magistrate court on a video conference phone Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007, at the Logan County courthouse in Logan, W.Va. Burton is one of six people accused of torturing Megan Williams, 20, of Charleston, for more than a week at a ramshackle trailer in rural W.Va. (Jeff Gentner/AP Photo)