An Alabama sex ring has been uncovered after an investigation for a missing teen led to what authorities describe as "a dark, twisted tale of perversion in the working-class neighborhoods and piney backwoods of coastal Alabama."
Brittney Wood, 19, went missing on May 30, 2012. Her uncle, Donnie Holland, who was under investigation for a slew of horrific sex crimes at the time, was reportedly the last person to see her. Holland died from a bullet a few days later in what was ruled a suicide.
The ensuing investigation revealed the largest sex ring ever uncovered in Alabama, and authorities believe Wood was the key to unraveling the sex ring, which may be the reason for her disappearance.
Eight of the teen's family members and three family friends have been charged with dozens of felonies. Authorities say the members of the incestuous ring shared children for group sex.
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"Brittney could have been huge," said prosecutor Teresa Heinz. "She could have corroborated so many things."
There is no trace of Wood and she is presumed dead.
Two of her uncles and an older brother already have pleaded guilty to sex charges. The teen's mother, Chessie Wood, and two aunts await trial, among others.
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Chessie Wood, 39, denies committing the crimes. She has accused some of her closest relatives of being guilty of abusing children, including the abuse of her own daughter.
"There are innocent people in this and there are guilty people in this," Wood, 39, said in an interview. "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."
Chessie Wood, who is herself accused of having sex with a young female relative, said she had no idea what was going on in the family until after her daughter's disappearance.
"The No. 1 thing here is to find Brittney. The No. 2 thing is to get all these sick (people) off the streets," she said.