BEAUFORT, S.C. — A man accused of kidnapping a 14-year-old girl and raping her in an underground bunker last year pleaded guilty Tuesday, moments before his trial was to begin.
The girl was rescued after 10 days when she talked her abductor into letting her play games on his cell phone and instead sent a text message for help.
Vinson Filyaw, 37, stood in court Tuesday with his arms clasped behind him as he quietly answered “Yes sir” when the judge asked him if he was freely pleading to the charges. The victim sat with family members, her mother’s arm around her.
Judge G. Thomas Cooper told Filyaw that he faces a possible 421 years in prison. Sentencing was set for today.
Monday evening, WLTX-TV reported that Filyaw had sent the TV station a manuscript that outlined his abduction and imprisonment of the girl.
Tuesday morning, Cooper ruled that the manuscripts could be used during the trial. One of Filyaw’s attorneys said that influenced the decision to plead guilty.
In the writings, Filyaw allegedly said he had watched the girl walk from her bus stop to her Kershaw County home before deciding to kidnap her. “I actually felt guilty for what I knew she was about to endure,” he wrote, according to WLTX.
Prosecutors said Filyaw wore a homemade police uniform when he led the girl away from a school bus stop by telling the teen she was under arrest. They also said he placed what he claimed to be a necklace of explosives around her neck that he said would detonate if she tried to escape.
Filyaw kept the girl in a hidden bunker built into the side of a hill for 10 days, prosecutors said.
According to the manuscript, Filyaw wrote that he felt a bond growing between them and started to trust her. The girl asked Filyaw if she could play games on his cell phone, and he let her, according to the manuscript. The girl sent a text message to her mother, which rescuers were able to use to find the bunker, authorities said.
“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,” Filyaw allegedly wrote. “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.”