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Bunker Kidnapping Suspect Charged

A man suspected of kidnapping a 14-year-old girl and keeping her in an underground bunker was charged Sunday with raping the teen, Kershaw County Sheriff Steve McCaskill said.

Kershaw County Sheriff Steve McCaskill said Vinson Filyaw had eluded police with an elaborate system of hideouts and bunkers since November 2005, when he was charged with criminal sexual conduct on a 12-year-old girl.

He surrendered Sunday morning to police as he walked along Interstate 20 near Columbia, about five miles from where investigators found the teenager.

Police say Filyaw, 36, abducted the girl as she walked home from a school bus stop on Sept. 6.

Investigators arrested Filyaw in neighboring Richland County about 24 hours after rescuing the girl, who sent a text message to her mother on Filyaw's phone while he was a sleep Wednesday, McCaskill said. The sheriff said Filyaw woke up and the girl still had the phone, but she told him she was simply playing with the phone.

Geraldine Williams, the girl's aunt, said the message was very clear: "Hey mom... I'm being held in a hole."

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.

"This little lady getting that message out was really the break in the case," the sheriff said. "She helped herself as much as we helped her."

Police say they still have not interviewed the girl, whose name was previously released when she was a missing person. The Associated Press is not using her name because police have identified her as a victim of sexual assault.

The girl was found Saturday about a mile from her home, hidden in a booby-trapped, 15-foot-deep hole carved out of the side of a hill and covered with plywood.

From the outside it looked like nothing more than a hole in the ground, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Acosta. But inside, there were lanterns, a small stove and food.

The chamber had a hand-dug privy with toilet paper and shelves made with cut branches and canvas, the police said.

McCaskill said it looked like Filyaw was trying to dig another bunker under that one as a possible backup hiding place, but had to abandon it when it filled with water.

Filyaw had dug two bunkers in his own yard and two in the woods and had used them to hide out since he was charged in the assault case in November.

His girlfriend Cynthia Hall has been charged as an accessory and with neglect in the earlier case, McCaskill said. Investigators say she allowed the earlier assault to take place in her home and provided Filyaw with supplies to live in the bunker.

Police were tipped off to Filyaw's location Sunday after getting a call from a woman who said he tried to carjack her about 2 a.m. outside a pizza restaurant, authorities said.

Filyaw was on foot — about five miles from his house — carrying a pellet gun, a Taser and a long hunting knife when police captured him. He gave up easily, McCaskill said, adding that he doesn't think the suspect had any help escaping.

Filyaw was being held Sunday at the Kershaw County jail. The sheriff said he was not aware of Filyaw having an attorney.

Investigators said Filyaw posed as a police officer when he met the 14-year-old girl and the teen was walked around in the woods by her captor until she became disoriented. He used handmade grenades and a flare gun to threaten her while she was in the bunker, McCaskill said.

The bunker was protected by a booby-trap.

Filyaw also has been charged with kidnapping, possession of an incendiary device and impersonating an officer, McCaskill said.

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