BIG CREEK, W.Va. &
Inside a shed on a remote hillside of this coalfield community, authorities say a young black woman was tortured for days, sexually assaulted, beaten and forced to eat rat droppings.
Her captors, all of them white, choked her with a cable cord and stabbed her in the leg while calling her a racial slur, poured hot water over her and made her drink from a toilet, according to criminal complaints.
It wasn't until an anonymous tip led Logan County Sheriff's deputies to the property on Saturday that her ordeal ended and she was able to limp to safety, arms outstretched as she cried, "Help me!"
"I don't understand such a horrific crime being committed here," said Johnny Meade, pastor of the community's Apostolic Church of God in the Name of Christ Jesus.
The FBI is now looking into possible civil rights violations, agency spokesman Bill Crowley said, authorities in West Virginia said they were investigating the case as a possible hate crime.
At one point, an assailant cut the woman's ankle with a knife and used the N-word in telling her she was victimized because she is black, authorities said. They said the young was also forced to eat dog feces.
Investigators are still trying to determine how the woman ended up at the property and whether she knew any of the six people arrested or two others, suspected of driving her to the home, who are being sought, said Logan County Chief Sheriff's Deputy V.K. Dingess.
Police tape now surrounds the entrances to the beige-and-brown mobile home where Megan Williams, 20, was found. An extension cord runs from the home to the cramped shed, which authorities say she was held in with a portable stereo, a locker and a power saw.
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 endured.
"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 hospital room. "I didn't know there were people like that out here."
The suspects in the case have previous arrest records going back several years, according to records from Logan County Magistrate Court. Logan County Prosecutor Brian Abraham said, "I have some familiarity with all those individuals."
Since 1991, police have filed 108 criminal charges against the six. Frankie Brewster, 49, faced the most serious charges among them. Karen Burton, 46, of Chapmanville had the most charges in all, with 33; and her daughter, Alisha Burton, 23, had 20.
Brewster, who owns the Big Creek mobile home, was charged in 1994 with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to lesser charges of manslaughter and wanton endangerment. She was released from prison in 2000 after serving five years in the death of 84-year-old Polly T. Ferrell, court records show.
In the Williams case, Brewster was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and giving false information during a felony investigation.
Brewster's son, Bobby R. Brewster, 24, also of Big Creek, was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and assault during the commission of a felony.
Danny J. Combs, 20, of Harts, was charged with sexual assault and malicious wounding.
Karen Burton was charged with malicious wounding, battery and assault during the commission of a felony.
Alisha Burton and George A. Messer, 27, of Chapmanville, were charged with assault during the commission of a felony and battery. In May, Alisha Burton was accused of striking Messer with a shovel and smashing the window of a woman's car. The charges are pending.
All six remained in custody Wednesday in lieu of $100,000 bail each.
Public Defender Dwyane Adkins, appointed to represent Bobby Brewster, declined to comment on the case. The other defendants' court-appointed lawyers were either in hearings or did not immediately return telephone calls Wednesday.
The home at Big Creek is quiet now. Newborn pups sleep in the entryway to the small shed, their mother protectively barking at approaching strangers.
Megan Williams, her right arm in a cast, may be well enough to leave the hospital within a few days, her mother said.
"I just want my daughter to be well and recover," Carmen Williams said. "I know the Lord can do anything."
Associated Press writer Tom Breen in Charleston, W.Va., contributed to this story.
Woman's weeklong sexual torture, battery leads to hate crimes investigation
BIG CREEK, W.Va. &