A 20-year-old woman who police say was kidnapped, and then tortured and sexually assaulted for at least a week, may have had a previous relationship with one of the suspects charged in the case, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Logan County prosecutor Brian Abraham said Tuesday that federal officials were investigating whether the six West Virginian suspects, who are white, can be charged with carrying out a hate crime against Megan Williams, who is black.
Bobby Brewster, 24, and his mother, Frankie Brewster, are among the suspects. Abraham said Bobby Brewster and Williams may have been romantically involved.
CNN normally does not reveal sexual assault victims’ names. But Williams, who is hospitalized, and her mother, Carmen Williams, wanted her identity revealed.
Police said Bobby Brewster raped Williams, forced her to lick blood and drink from a toilet, and told his mother to kill Williams if she tried to escape.
Authorities previously said Williams was also forced to eat rat and dog feces.
According to criminal complaints filed in the county, Williams was assaulted, stabbed in the left leg, choked and beaten for at least a week.
Williams says one of the suspects cut her ankle with a knife while saying, “That’s what we do to [racial slur] around here,” police records show.
“I don’t understand a human being doing another human being the way they did my daughter,” Carmen Williams told The Associated Press on Tuesday from her daughter’s hospital room. “I didn’t know there were people like that out here.” Video Watch the victim’s mother speak out »
Deputies received a tip and Saturday visited a home owned by Frankie Brewster in Big Creek, West Virginia.
As the deputies spoke with a woman on the front porch, “a female inside the residence limped toward the door with her arms held out, saying ‘Help me,’ ” according to a news release from the sheriff’s department.
“It’s something you’d expect to see in a horror movie, not in Logan County,” Abraham said. “She was subjected to unendurable torture down there.”
Defense attorney Joe Spradling, who represented two of the suspects in the past, said he believes there is some racial component to the allegations, “but the biggest factor is drugs.”
The six are charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and battery. If convicted of kidnapping, a suspect could face a sentence of up to life in prison. The penalty for first-degree sexual assault is 15 to 35 years.
Abraham said he is seeking the maximum sentence on the kidnapping charges. In addition to the Brewsters, the suspects are Danny J. Combs, 20, of Harts, West Virginia; and George A. Messer, 27, Karen Burton, 46, and her daughter, Alisha Burton, 23, all of Chapmanville, West Virginia.
“They all have previous records and have been arrested numerous times,” Sheriff W.E. Hunter said Tuesday. “They are familiar to law enforcement.”
Frankie Brewster was charged with first-degree murder in 1994, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in the death of an 84-year-old woman. She was released in 2000 after serving five years in prison, according to court records cited by the AP.
All six were being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, and all requested court-appointed attorneys, the AP reported.
Investigators are still looking for two other people suspected of driving Williams to the home, according to the AP.
Carmen Williams had not reported her daughter missing, saying Megan Williams often disappeared for weeks at a time.
Carmen Williams said she is “horrified” by her daughter’s injuries.
“She wakes up crying, and the first thing she hollers is ‘Mommy,’ ” she said.