Big Creek, W.Va. For at least a week, authorities say, a young black woman was held captive in a mobile home, forced to eat animal waste, stabbed, choked and repeatedly sexually abused - all while being peppered with a racial slur.
It wasn't until deputies acting on an anonymous tip drove to a ramshackle trailer deep in West Virginia's rural hills that she was found. Limping toward the door with her arms outstretched, she uttered, "Help me," the Logan County sheriff's office said.
Six people, all white, including a mother and son and a mother and daughter, have been arrested and could face federal hate crime charges in the suspected attack on 20-year-old Megan Williams, who remained hospitalized Tuesday with injuries that included four stab wounds in the leg, and black and blue eyes. Her right arm was in a cast.
"I'm better," Williams told The Associated Press in a voice barely above a whisper.
"I don't understand a human being doing another human being the way they did my daughter," Carmen Williams said Tuesday from the Charleston Area Medical Center. "I didn't know there were people like that out here."
The AP generally does not identify suspected victims of sexual assault, but Williams and her mother agreed to release her name.
A prosecutor said police are investigating the possibility that the victim was lured to the house and attacked by a man she had met online, but Carmen Williams insisted that wasn't the case. "This wasn't from the Internet," she said.
Authorities were still looking for two people they believe drove the woman to the house where she was abused, said Logan County Chief Deputy V.K. Dingess. Deputies also interviewed Williams on Tuesday morning. An FBI spokesman in Pittsburgh, Bill Crowley, confirmed that the agency is looking into possible civil rights violations.
The case is "something that would have come out of a horror movie," Logan County Sheriff W.E. Hunter said.
The home is in a forlorn part of Logan County about 50 miles southwest of Charleston, where the scattered homes are marked by "No Trespassing" signs. An old shed linked to a mobile home by an extension cord is what authorities say became a hellish prison for Williams.
Deputies found her when they drove to the home on Saturday after receiving an anonymous tip from someone who witnessed the abuse, officials 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 based on what the suspects told deputies. She also had been choked with a cord, it alleges. Deputies say the woman was also doused with hot water while being sexually assaulted.
Carmen Williams said doctors told her daughter she may be well enough to leave the hospital within a few days, although a nurse said the young woman's condition was listed as "under evaluation."