On January 22, 1992, at 12.22pm, the phone rang at an estate agency in Birmingham. The caller, depraved murderer Michael Sams, told the receptionist he had kidnapped employee Stephanie Slater and would kill her if he didn’t get £175,000. Stephanie, 25, was born in Sams, Keighley, after being lured to a property on Turnberry Road, Great Barr, abducted and taken to a warehouse. Sams handcuffed and blindfolded her before locking her in a makeshift coffin. Slater later told police that Sams threatened to electrocute her if she tried to move.
She was locked up for eight days before she came out of her coffin to eat. Hoping to increase her chances of survival by making herself “human,” she would use the pauses to chat with Samus. In a later interview, Stephanie said: “Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified every time I spoke to him. I was like, ‘I hope I didn’t say the wrong thing to make him angry’.”
Stephanie didn’t know at the time that she was Sams’ second victim. Heating engineers in Keighley have previously kidnapped and murdered 18-year-old sex worker Julie Dart from Leeds. Miraculously, Sams let Stephanie go after receiving the ransom. But the trauma Stephanie experienced stayed with her for the rest of her life.
In her book Beyond Fear: My Will to Live, Stephanie says Sams raped her on her first night in captivity. However, she initially did not tell authorities, fearing she might further upset her mother, who has a heart condition. Sadly, Stephanie passed away from cancer in 2017 at the age of 50. Her kidnapper, Michael Sams, is still in prison.