A man serving a 421-year sentence for the kidnapping, torture and rape of a 14-year-old girl he was holding in an explosive-rigged bunker has died.
Vinson Filyaw, 51, was found in his cell at the McCormick Correctional Institution in South Carolina on Monday, official sources have reported with knowledge of his death.
There were no immediate signs of foul play and an autopsy will be performed, The state the sources reported as saying.
McCormick County coroner Faye Puckett confirmed to the outlet that an inmate had died, but did not name the person.
In September 2006, Filyaw kidnapped 14-year-old Elizabeth Shoaf after getting off a school bus in Elgin, Kershaw County.
A man serving a 421-year sentence for the kidnapping, torture and rape of a 14-year-old girl he was holding in an explosive-rigged bunker has died. Vinson Filyaw, pictured handcuffed in 2006, 51, was found unresponsive in his cell at McCormick Correctional Institution in South Carolina, official sources with knowledge of his death said. [File photo]
Filyaw held Elizabeth Shoaf hostage in a six-foot-deep underground bunker he had built (pictured). The den was a booby trap with explosives and had a camouflaged door [File photo]
Filyaw was hiding in a bush and waiting for Shoaf to leave the bus stop before appearing in front of her.
Wearing a shirt with a police badge, he told Shoaf she had been arrested because her family had been caught growing marijuana. This was untrue.
According to the reported evidence, Filyaw then handcuffed Shoaf and led her into the woods, where he raped her and put a necklace on her that he claimed was full of explosives.
He warned Shoaf that if she tried to escape, he would detonate the chain and kill her younger brother.
Shoaf (pictured) secretly texted her mother from her kidnapper’s phone, ultimately leading to her rescue and Filyaw’s arrest
Filyaw then took Shoaf deeper into the forest to a site where he had built a six-foot underground bunker.
The burrow was an explosive trap and had a camouflaged door, the state reported.
The bunker had a well, a bed and a stove, as well as a television and an escape hatch. Authorities said it was one of four Filyaw who built around Kershaw County.
Authorities initially thought Shoaf was a runaway and did not issue an orange warning after her disappearance.
Gradually, Shoaf persuaded Filyaw to let her play games on his cell phone.
One night, while her kidnapper was asleep, she texted her mother on the phone and reached out the door of the bunker to send the message.
It eventually led authorities to the den, where Shoaf was held hostage for more than a week.
Discovering he was being chased, Filyaw fled, allowing Shoaf to escape and be rescued
He was later arrested and tried the following year. He has pleaded guilty to a series of charges, including kidnapping, rape and impersonating a police officer.
He alleged that he kidnapped Shoaf and held her captive in revenge on the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, which allegedly accused him of a sex crime.
The trailer where Filyaw lived in Lugoff, South Carolina is pictured in 2006 [File photo]
Filyaw was jailed for 421 years in a sentence that combined sentences for his crimes successively, including kidnapping, rape, and impersonating a law enforcement officer, among other crimes.
Judge G. Thomas Cooper described Filyaw’s actions as “inexcusable” when he delivered the verdict, saying, “You hunted helpless victims with violence and ferocity.”
Evidence at trial included necklaces Filyaw hung around Shoaf’s neck to keep her from escaping and a handmade badge he used posing as a police officer.
A knife, bullet gun and night vision goggles were also presented.
Pictured: Filyaw was arrested in 2006 and sentenced the following year
The prison record said Filyaw’s expected release will be in the year 2353.
After the case was closed, Barney Giese, the prosecutor, said authorities had blown up Filyaw’s bunker.
In an interview on Monday, Giese described Filyaw as “a bad guy” and said he was “as bad as possible without killing anyone.”
“He got 421 years and earned it every day,” said Giese.
He also recalled that Shoaf, whose actions led authorities to the bunker, was “very strong” and “very brave.”
Shoaf then spoke about her ordeal in a few interviews.
The graduate now works as a dental assistant.
In 2013 she told WIS: ‘You can be a survivor just like me. It just takes faith, talking to someone, and encouragement that this is not the end of the world. ‘
The case was the subject of a Lifetime movie entitled The Girl in the Bunker, which aired in 2018.