Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Case of the Seven-Year Sex Slave

The Initial Revelation

 On Thursday May 19, 1977, 20-year-old Colleen Stan left Eugene, Oregon to visit a friend in the Northern California town of Westwood, almost 400 miles away She had no car or money for a bus, but she was used to getting around with her thumb, so she hitchhiked.

"I just decided," Colleen later said in an A&E documentary, "that I was going to go down and wish her a happy birthday."

Despite the fact that four years earlier, Edmund Kemper had stalked and killed female hitchhikers in San Jose, California   most young women did not give the potential dangers of the practice much thought. Hitchhiking in the ‘70s was a way of life, part of a statement of freedom that the youth subculture had adopted in recent years.  Eschewing material things or simply having no money, they got around based on their belief in the kindness of strangers.

Carol Smith
Carol Smith

So Colleen figured she'd find a ride fairly easily down Interstate 5 into the next state.  She never anticipated just what would happen when she did get a ride and was unable to get out.  Her benefactors had no plans to kill her.  They had something else in mind.


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