A California woman has been indicted on kidnapping and sexual assault charges in the abduction of two teenage girls with connections to Charleston.
The girls, whose mother and several other relatives hail from the Holy City, disappeared from their Spring Branch, Texas, home on Feb. 11.
Their family later learned that they ended up in California with Desiree Hamm, 22, a woman they met on the Internet through role-playing games involving witchcraft, relatives said.
A grand jury in Comal County, Texas, indicted Hamm last week on two counts of aggravated kidnapping, seven counts of sexual assault and four counts of sexual performance by a child, court records show. She remains in the county jail, her bail set at $650,000.
Hamm is accused of holding the girls, ages 15 and 16, against their will, restricting their movements and keeping them in a place where they were not likely to be found, according to the indictments. Hamm is accused of sexually molesting the girls and inducing them to perform sex acts on one another, the indictments state.
The Post and Courier is withholding the girls' identities because the newspaper does not publish the names of sexual assault victims.
The girls formed a strong bond with Hamm after meeting her online, family members said. Phone records showed thousands of minutes worth of phone calls between one of the girls and Hamm in the two months leading up to their disappearance.
Then they cleaned out their bank accounts, grabbed their passports and vanished in the middle of the night, relatives said.
An uncle who lives in Charleston said Hamm kept the girls in the trunk of a car on the way to California, and later kept them locked in an apartment used by a coven of witches.
The uncle said the girls were branded with a hot iron during their time in captivity and left with a mark similar to a tiger's paw.
The girls returned home to Texas in March after investigators obtained arrest warrants to charge Hamm with helping them to run away, family members said.
The uncle said the girls recently attended a gathering of extended family and they seem to be doing much better. The girls have received some counseling since their return to deal with the episode, he said.