October 5, 2008
Megan Williams Torture Case is Over
The last of six White West Virginians accused of kidnapping, raping and torturing a 20-year-old Black woman last year has pleaded guilty.
Danny J. Combs, followed the five other defendants, which included a mother-daughter and mother-son pair, admitting his role in one of the most heinous racial crimes in modern history. The case not only shined a spotlight on the backwardness of back-woods West Virginia, but it amplified the vicious racial division that still exists in America some 40 years after the Civil Rights Era.
The 20-year-old Combs pleaded guilty in a county court in Logan, W.Va., to first-degree sexual assault, assault during the commission of a felony and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
The victim, Megan Williams, told authorities last September that her captors lured her to a mobile home in a remote West Virginia town, where they beat her, stabbed her, sexually assaulted her and forced her at knifepoint to eat dog and rat feces while calling her racial slurs.
“This is what we do to ni**ergs down here in West Virginia,” Williams said she was told by one of her abusers during the ordeal. Although several in the group hurled racist epithets, only one, Karen Burton, 46, was charged with a hate crime. Burton acknowledged making racist remarks and stabbing Williams in the ankle. Williams has told police that Combs was the one who made her eat excrement and raped her at knifepoint.
Sexual assault victims are usually not identified in news reports, but Williams decided to take her case public, giving interviews and making television appearances to speak out about her saga and to demand that the six assaulters face additional charges of committing a hate crime. Williams is fortunate to be alive.
Acting on an anonymous phone call last year, sheriff’s deputies showed up at the trailer home in the rural community of Big Creek, W.V., where the torture took place. When the deputies arrived, Karen Burton answered the door and quickly assured them that everything was OK. However, a bloodied, battered and weak Williams stumbled to the door and gasped, “Help me.”
Williams, who has said she still suffers nightmares from the horrifying episode, later told authorities that her kidnappers had planned to kill her when they were through.
The prayers of all villagers are with Megan Williams as she continues moving forward towards her future.