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Vinson Filyaw: His Story, His Writings


(WLTX) - Over the last year, behind bars, 37-year-old Vinson Filyaw has been busy writing a story some never thought they'd get to hear.Filyaw is accused of kidnapping a teenage girl in Kershaw County last September, holding her in an underground bunker for 10 days, and sexually assaulting her. Late last year, Filyaw began corresponding with News19's Ashley Yarchin. Now, we're presenting his statements for the first time. The correspondence began when Filyaw was appointed an attorney. Yarchin called his lawyer, offering Filyaw a chance to speak. In response, the attorney told Filyaw of her interest. Yarchin then began receiving writings from the suspect. In all, five letters and a detailed manuscript were sent to News19. With those documents, we now have a better understanding of what Filyaw says happened last September. The following excerpt is from chapter eight, page two of his manuscript, 48 hours before prosecutors say Filyaw would carry out the crime. "I remembered seeing one of the girls from the high school bus go up a wooded driveway," he wrote. "That's when I started thinking, if I could make my way through the woods to her house, I could abduct her from there."The manuscript goes on to detail much of the following days. "I was prepared for battle now and had all intentions of starting a war," he wrote. "I actually felt guilty for what I knew she was fixing to endure."In an entry detailing events from September 6, 2006, Filyaw wrote that he dressed as a deputy when he handcuffed and kidnapped his victim as she walked from her bus stop toward her front door. "She went where I told her. I wanted her to stay calm, so I told her my sergeant was waiting to talk to her. I placed a necklace around her neck. She asked me what it was for. I explained to her that the small black box on it was an explosive. I then told her that she was being kidnapped, and that if she did anything stupid, I would blow her up."It sounds like an admission, so you have to wonder, did Filyaw, who has pleaded not guilty, really write all of this? Charles Perrotta has been examining handwriting samples for more than three decades. The former FBI investigator compared Filyaw's signatures on two court documents with those on three letters he sent to News19. "I would say that I'm somewhere near 90 to 95% sure that he did this," Perrotta says. Perrotta says similarities showed up in strokes, letter size, spacing, and the degree of the slant. "I saw numerous handwriting characteristics in common, which leads me to the conclusion that it is more likely than not that Filyaw did prepare each of the questioned signatures in this case."Filyaw refers to the manuscript as "the complete book", but an "unfinished, unedited version."In the last letter we received, he wrote the following: "I told her that I intended to rape her. She immediately looked frightened. I told her as long as she did what I told her, I would not hurt her."That afternoon, Filyaw says he led his young hostage less than a mile into the woods to an underground bunker. Ten feet wide, eight feet deep, and 20 feet long, this is where he found refuge. "She sat there listening to me, then quietly asked me when she would be able to go home," Filyaw wrote. "She just seemed to be such a really sweet girl, that I hated to tell her the truth, so I lied to her and said, 'Soon, real soon.'"But the truth he did tell was why she was now his hostage. He explains in this letter that, during an investigation of accusations that he sexually assaulted his 12-year-old step-daughter, the sheriff's deputy had no intention of hearing his side of the story. "I did what I did, without admitting to anything yet, to show...Kershaw County I can play as dirty as they can," he wrote. "Also, to show the public how incompetent and corrupt that they really are."Filyaw says that when deputies deemed the missing girl a runaway, he had won. "My hostage, however, became more depressed because now she knew nobody was looking for her."As days passed, he wrote that the two fell into a routine, leaving the bunker daily to clean clothes, collect water and converse. But he said beyond the first day, rape was never mentioned as part of that plan. "She told me she was bored and asked if she could play on my cell phone. I thought about it for a moment. She had done good outside, and I knew the phone didn't work inside the bunker so I finally agreed."It was a week after the girl's kidnapping that that decision revealed the route to her escape. "After a year of careful, meticulous planning, I had let her win. I literally gave her the phone to call the police. It was as simple as that. I couldn't be mad at her. She had done what any person in her situation would have done and probably better! She had won my trust and defeated me!"Investigators say the girl actually sent a text message to her mother, which led officials to a mining yard, where an all-night search forced Filyaw to get going. "I had really grown fond of my hostage and I had hoped to keep her. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Besides, it was what I planned all along."Filyaw wrote that he grabbed his backpack and rifle and opened the door. Hours later, the little girl was rescued. That happened as Filyaw hiked his way past police, down Spears Creek Church Road toward Interstate 20, where he says he surrendered. "If I gave up, I would have full medical coverage, three meals a day, and never have to work again. I stood there for a minute thinking, then...I lit a cigarette and walked over to the side of the interstate. I had made my decision."That was around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 17. The then 46-year-old was finally out of the woods, where time to tell his story would be seemingly endless. Consistent with a long-standing News19 policy, we will do everything we can not to identify the victim in this case. We feel that's a decision in her best interest. News19 did speak with the victim and her family this week, and they're all doing well and looking forward to putting all of this behind them.