(Posted September 13, 2007)—Authorities will not pursue hate crime charges in the alleged kidnapping and torture of a Black woman in West Virginia by six White suspects. Instead, prosecutors have decided to issue state charges, which have more severe penalties. In West Virginia, hate crimes carry a sentence of up to ten years, while kidnapping charges could result in a penalty of life in prison.

The six suspects were arrested this week in connection with a horrific set of crimes: kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and battery of a Charleston, West Virginia, woman for at least one week. It was widely reported that the victim, an African-American 20-year-old, was forced to eat rat and dog feces and drink from a toilet during her captivity. She was also reportedly called a racial slur during the attacks. The six arrested in connection with the alleged abduction, including a mother and son and a mother and daughter, are White.

According to a prosecutor, one of the suspects, Bobby Brewster, 24, had a prior relationship with the victim. Brewster reportedly had been charged in July with domestic battery and assault involving the same woman. All the suspects have criminal records—108 charges since 1991 in total—including a first-degree murder charge filed against Brewster’s mother, Frankie Brewster, 49, in 1994. Brewster pled guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter and spent five years in prison.

Deputies found the victim at a home in Big Creek, West Virginia, about 35 miles southwest of Charleston, Saturday, September 8, after going there to investigate an anonymous tip. According to the Associated Press, Frankie Brewster sat on the front porch and said she was alone before the victim limped toward the door, her arms outstretched, pleading for help.

The victim, who had stab wounds in her left leg, black eyes and lacerations around her neck, remained hospitalized on Wednesday. All six suspects, ranging in age from 20 to 49, are being held on $100,000 bond each.

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