Fact Check

Megan Williams Attack

E-mail describes the kidnapping, assault, and torture of Megan Williams by six white suspects.

Published Oct 2, 2007

Claim:   E-mail describes the kidnapping, assault, and torture of Megan Williams by six white suspects.

Status:   Mixture.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, September 2007]

This happened in West Virginia , USA very recently and yesterday, Wednesday, 9/12 2007, Megan Williams was still being treated for this in the hospital.

She was Tortured and Raped for a whole week, by Six White individuals, Three males and Three Females Between the ages of 20 and 49.

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 with cords and beaten for at least a week. When she was found, big parts of her hair had also been
torn off of her scalp.

Williams says that Alisha Burton 22 cut her ankle with a knife while saying, "That's what we do to Ni**ers 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."

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."

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 Brewster's, 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 of the six individuals that are involved in this case are accused of 108 different cases of crimes all combined. 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.

Spread this article since the news stations are trying to keep this quiet.

Origins:   The e-mail displayed above reproduces details of the Megan Williams case that were initially reported in press accounts, with the caveat that such accounts often contain details which prove to be erroneous or exaggerated once more information is made public.

On 8 September 2007, police acting on a tip rescued 20-year-old Megan Williams from a trailer home in Big Creek, West Virginia, where they said she had been held captive for a week. (Investigators later said they believed Williams may have been at the trailer for over a month.) During that time, Williams (who is black) was reportedly beaten, raped, and

stabbed by six (white) captors who locked her in a shed and threatened to kill her if she left the property. Her captors also allegedly tormented and tortured her in various ways, including subjecting her to racial slurs, cutting her hair, placing a cable around her neck, pouring hot water over her body, and forcing her to eat dog and rat feces, drink water from a toilet, and lick blood. (Authorities were unsure if Williams, who has learning difficulties, had actually been abducted, since she apparently had a "preestablished social relationship" with one of the defendants who lived in the trailer and might therefore have gone there on her own. They did not doubt, however, that she was held against her will once she arrived at the trailer.)

Frankie Brewster, 49, was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and giving false information during a felony investigation. Her son, Bobby Brewster, 24, was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and assault during the commission of a felony.

Karen Burton, 46, was charged with malicious wounding, battery and assault during the commission of a felony. Burton's daughter and her daughter's boyfriend — Alisha Burton, 23, and George A. Messer, 27 — were charged with assault during the commission of a felony and battery. Danny J. Combs, 20, was charged with sexual assault and malicious wounding.

(Contrary to the claim made in the e-mail reproduced above, "news stations" were not "trying to keep this quiet." The Associated Press, CNN, and other national news outlets covered the story on or before the date of the message, 11 September 2007.)

Logan County prosecutor Brian Abraham later dismissed the previous charges against five of the suspects (all but Bobby Brewster) and filed new complaints charging each of them of first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping, as well as the following:

Frankie Brewster now stands accused of kidnapping, first-degree sexual assault, three counts of battery and giving false information to authorities during a felony investigation. Karen Burton also faces malicious wounding assault during the commission of a felony and 13 counts of battery, while her daughter Alisha Burton's charges include malicious wounding and 11 counts of battery.

Danny Jay Combs now stands accused of three counts of first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and malicious wounding. George Allen Messer is also charged with six counts of battery.

The Justice Department initially stated that no federal charges (including hate crimes) would be brought against the six defendants, but local prosecutors maintained they were considering filing state hate crime charges against at least one defendant. Eventually, all the suspects confessed and pled guilty, and all but one were sent to prison.

In October 2009, Megan Williams sparked controversy anew when she recanted her earlier claims and said that she had lied about the attack on her:

Williams made up the story because she wanted to get revenge against a boyfriend who had beaten her, said her attorney, Byron L. Potts. She recanted because she no longer wants to live a lie, he said.

"She is recanting the entire incident. She says it did not happen, and she's scared," Potts said.

Potts said Williams stabbed herself with a straight razor to help embellish the story of being tortured.

"She told me the only thing not self-inflicted were the bruises on her face," Potts said.

Prosecutors, who knew about the relationship during the case, dismissed Williams' new claim, and lawyers for the defendants would not discuss their plans.

Brian Abraham, the former Logan County prosecutor who pursued the cases, said authorities realized early in the investigation that they could not rely on statements from Williams, who tended to embellish and exaggerate details. Instead, he said, the seven defendants were convicted on their own statements and physical evidence.

"If she's going to say that she made it all up, that's absurd," Abraham said. "This looks like another attempt to generate more publicity."

Last updated:   22 October 2009

  Sources Sources:

    Breen, Tom and Shaya Tayefe Mohajer.   "Torture Case Shows W.Va. Racial Tensions."

    Associated Press.   28 September 2007.

    Breen, Tom and Matt Leingang.   "Woman in W.Va. Torture Case Now Says She Lied."

    Associated Press.   22 October 2009.

    Clevenger, Andrew.   "Charges Added in Torture-Rape."

    The Charleston Gazette.   19 September 2007.

    Lewis, Paul.   "In W.Va, Police Hold Six in Alleged Torture Case."

    The Washington Post.   13 September 2007.

    Raby, John.   "Details Emerge in W. Va. Torture Case."

    Associated Press.   12 September 2007.

    Urbina, Ian.   "Tortured Woman Had Told of Abuse by One Suspect."

    The New York Times.   13 September 2007.

    Associated Press.   "Police Mull Hate Crime Charges for W.Va. Attack."

    MSNBC.com.   11 September 2007.

    Associated Press.   "New Charges Expected in W.Va. Torture Case"

    CBSNews.com.   17 September 2007.

    CNN.com.   "Woman Tortured for at Least a Week, Officials Say."

    10 September 2007.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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