Bond Denied for Man Charged in Kidnapping, Sexual Assault of S.C. Girl

A judge denied bond Monday for a man accused of abducting and assaulting a 14-year-old girl and holding her in an underground bunker for more than a week before she was able to send a text message to her mother.

Vinson Filyaw, 36, was captured early Sunday and will remain in jail on rape, kidnapping and other charges. Kershaw County Magistrate Roderick Todd said Filyaw was a flight risk and "significant threat" to the community.

The girl was rescued over the weekend after she sent the message on her alleged captor's phone while he was asleep, Kershaw County investigators said. The text message, released in court, included the teen's nickname and her location.

"Hi mom," it read. "I'm in a hole across from Charm Hill where the big trucks go in and out. There's a bomb. Call police."

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Sheriff Steve McCaskill said investigators would try to talk to the girl's family after initially "standing down to give her time to get over the trauma." Soon after her rescue, she was taken to a hospital and reunited with family, McCaskill said.

The teen was in court Monday, holding a pink blanket and flanked by her family and friends.

"She's a strong girl," her aunt Geraldine Williams told reporters. "She's smart. I wouldn't have thought of the things she did."

The Associated Press is not using the girl's name because police have identified her as a victim of sexual assault. Her mother said Monday the teen was resting and recovering.

"She's doing great. She's a very strong girl," her mother told the CBS "Early Show."

Filyaw was being held at the Kershaw County jail on charges of possession of an incendiary device and impersonating an officer.

He surrendered Sunday morning to police as he walked along Interstate 20 near Columbia, about five miles from where investigators found the teenager a day earlier. McCaskill said Monday that Filyaw was interviewed Sunday but has been uncooperative with police.

"We have not tried to reinterview him," McCaskill said. "He was showing no remorse for what he had done."

Deputies had been searching for months for the unemployed construction worker since he was charged last year with criminal sexual conduct on a 12-year-old girl. Officers tried to arrest him at his home earlier last week, but he escaped using a hole in the floor of his bedroom that allowed him to hide under his mobile home, McCaskill said.

The sheriff said Filyaw had a prior conviction for burglary and has been charged several times with public drunkenness and driving under the influence.

A neighbor of Filyaw's, Sharon Turner, said she was worried when the girl, who lived about a mile away, disappeared. She hadn't seen the man living across the street for months.

"I told my husband, 'He went underground,"' Turner said.

Authorities say she was right. Filyaw had eluded police since November with an elaborate system of bunkers in the woods around his home, McCaskill said.

Police say Filyaw, wearing a shirt that had the image of a sheriff's badge on it, abducted the girl Sept. 6 as she walked home from a school bus stop. The girl was walked around in the woods until she became disoriented, and then was kept in a bunker, threatened by handmade grenades and a flare gun, McCaskill said.

After the text message was sent Wednesday, investigators used cell towers to determine a general location of the phone and deputies began searching for Filyaw on Friday night. McCaskill said the girl cried out as searchers approached the bunker.

The teen was found in a booby-trapped, roughly 8-foot-deep hole carved out of the side of a hill and covered with plywood. The bunker had a hand-dug privy with toilet paper, a camp stove and shelves made with cut branches and canvas.

McCaskill said police found pornography left in the bunker and in Filyaw's other hiding places. "This is a deranged individual," McCaskill said.

McCaskill said it looked like Filyaw was trying to dig another bunker near the one where the girl was found as a possible backup, but had to abandon it when it filled with water.

Filyaw's girlfriend, Cynthia Hall, has been charged as an accessory and with neglect in the previous case involving the 12-year-old, McCaskill said. Investigators say she allowed the assault to take place in her home and provided Filyaw with supplies to live in the bunker.

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