- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Authorities said yesterday they are considering hate-crime charges in the case of a woman who was tortured while being held captive for at least a week, and they are investigating the possibility that she was lured by a man she met on the Internet.

The victim was repeatedly called a racial slur while her captors sexually abused, beat and stabbed her, her mother said.

Six persons, all white, including a mother and son and a mother and daughter, were arrested in connection with the abduction of the 23-year-old black woman.

“Every one of these people who were arrested are no strangers to law enforcement,” Logan County Sheriff W.E. Hunter said.

Officials planned to meet later to decide whether to file hate-crime charges, Logan County sheriff’s Sgt. Sonya Porter said. An FBI spokesman in Pittsburgh, Bill Crowley, confirmed that the agency is looking into possible civil rights violations.

Authorities were still looking for two persons they think drove the woman to the house where she was abused, said Logan County Chief Deputy V.K. Dingess.

Deputies found the woman Saturday when they went to the house in Big Creek, about 35 miles southwest of Charleston, to investigate an anonymous tip from someone who had witnessed the abuse, Sgt. Porter said yesterday.

One of the suspects, Frankie Brewster, was sitting on the front porch and told deputies she was alone, but moments later the woman limped toward the door, her arms outstretched, saying “Help me,” the sheriff’s department said in a press release.

Logan County Prosecutor Brian Abraham said police are investigating the possibility that the woman had been lured to the house by a man she met on the Internet.

Besides being sexually assaulted, the woman had been stabbed four times in the left leg and beaten, Sgt. Porter said. The wounds were inflicted at least a week ago, deputies said.

The woman was forced to eat rat and dog feces and drink from a toilet, according to the criminal complaint filed in magistrate court. She also had been choked with a cord, the complaint states.

Karen Burton is accused of cutting the woman’s ankle with a knife. She used the n-word in telling the woman she was victimized because she is black, the complaint states. Deputies said the woman also was doused with hot water while being sexually assaulted.

The Associated Press normally does not name victims of suspected sex crimes.

Mrs. Brewster, 49, who owns the home where police said the attacks occurred, is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and giving false information during a felony investigation. Her son, Bobby R. Brewster, 24, also of Big Creek, is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and assault during the commission of a felony.

Mrs. Burton, 46, of Chapmanville, is charged with malicious wounding, battery and assault during the commission of a felony. Her daughter Alisha Burton, 23, of Chapmanville, and George A. Messer, 27, of Chapmanville, are charged with assault during the commission of a felony and battery.

Danny J. Combs, 20, of Harts, is charged with sexual assault and malicious wounding.

All six remained in custody yesterday in lieu of $100,000 bail each.

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