Oklahoma Department of Human Services workers investigating a child welfare complaint in Duncan stumbled upon a surprise that led to the arrest of a mother and daughter.
DHS workers discovered that Patricia Ann Clayton Spann, 43, and her daughter, Misty Velvet Dawn Spann, 25, were living as a married couple, and even had the marriage license to prove it.
The two women were "legally" married at the Comanche County Courthouse in March of this year--just a little over five months ago.
Patricia Spann is the biological mother of three children--Misty and her two brothers--all of whom were raised by their grandparents after Patricia lost custody. She says that she and her daughter were reunited recently after several years apart, and that they "hit it off" and decided to get married. Both Patricia and Misty were aware of their biological relationship, but the mother says that she did not think their marriage would be illegal since she no longer appears on her daughter's birth certificate after Misty was adopted by her grandmother.
Mother and daughter were arrested for incest and booked into the Stephens County Jail, where they were held on $10,000 bond.
What makes the case even more shocking is that this is not the first time Patricia Spann has married one of her own children. In 2008, she married her son, Jody Calvin Spann, Jr., who subsequently filed for annulment of the marriage on the grounds of incest. Patricia Spann said that marriage was not sexual, and that she married her son in an effort to prevent his military deployment.
The remaining son, Cody Spann, told reporters that he believes his biological mother is "worthless," and that she manipulated both of his siblings into marrying her.
Oklahoma's incest law is found in 21 O.S. 885 and reads in part as follows:
"Persons who, being within the degrees of consanguinity within which marriages are by the laws of the state declared incestuous and void, intermarry with each other, or commit adultery or fornication with each other, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections not exceeding ten (10) years."
In 43 O.S. 2, state law defines these "degrees of consanguinity" or the biological relationships that would legally prevent one person from marrying another in the state of Oklahoma:
"Marriages between ancestors and descendants of any degree, of a stepfather with a stepdaughter, stepmother with stepson, between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews, except in cases where such relationship is only by marriage, between brothers and sisters of the half as well as the whole blood, and first cousins are declared to be incestuous, illegal and void, and are expressly prohibited. Provided, that any marriage of first cousins performed in another state authorizing such marriages, which is otherwise legal, is hereby recognized as valid and binding in this state as of the date of such marriage."
Incest is considered a felony sex crime. In addition to facing a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, anyone convicted of incest in Oklahoma must register for life as a sex offender.