What began as a search for a missing girl ultimately led to the discovery of the largest sex ring in Alabama history.
19-year-old Brittney Wood is thought to have been with Donnie Holland — her uncle, who was being investigated for disturbing sex crimes — in May 2012, the night Holland died from a gunshot in his car. Wood has not been seen since, and many questions remain surrounding rampant incest in her family, which is being described by investigators as “the largest sex ring ever uncovered in Alabama.”
Eleven individuals — eight of whom are adult relatives of Wood — have been charged with sex crimes related to the alleged ring, according to the Associated Press (AP). The adults allegedly shared their own children for group sex.
According to prosecutors, incest has gone on, unchecked, for at least three generations in the family. Holland was thought to be one of the group’s leaders; he was scheduled to be questioned about his role in the incest ring the same day that his body was discovered.
Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Nicki Patterson told the AP, “Donnie was the manager. He’d say, ‘I’ve got this child and this adult, come on over.'”
Wood, who was molested as a child by her step-grandfather, was likely a key witness to the sex ring and a victim herself. She had been using drugs and carried a gun for self protection prior to her disappearance, according to the AP. Her gun was in Holland’s car when he was discovered a gunshot to the head.
Although Wood’s body has not been found, she is thought to be dead at this point. Prosecutor Teresa Heinz told AP, “Brittney could have been huge. She could have corroborated so many things.”
Subsequent to Wood going missing, the investigation into the incest ring picked up. Numerous relatives were arrested and charged with sex crimes.
So far, two of Wood’s uncles and her older brother have plead guilty to the charges against them.
Wood’s mother, Chessie Wood, is waiting to be tried by a jury; the AP reported that she is accused of sexually abusing a female relative. At this point, Chessie Wood denies any involvement in the sex ring. She reportedly said in an interview, “There are innocent people in this and there are guilty people in this. I don’t know how the judicial system is going to figure it all out because they’re not the sharpest tools in the shed. The number one thing here is to find Brittney. The number two thing is to get all these sick [people] off the streets.”
Authorities are still not sure exactly how many minors were victims of acts committed by the alleged incest ring. Estimates peg the number of victims to be between 11 and 16.