Duncan, Oklahoma woman Patricia Spann and daughter Misty Spann were reportedly arrested on 6 September 2016 in a strange, incest-related case that at first glance read like a fake news item.

According to the Associated Press, the elder Spann has wed not one, but two of her biological children — after purportedly marrying a son in 2008, Spann sought an annulment, then married her daughter in March 2016:

A woman and her daughter are facing incest charges after authorities learned the pair were legally married in Oklahoma, and that the mother had married her son a few years earlier.

The motivation behind the March [2016] marriage was unclear, when 43-year-old Patricia Ann Spann and her daughter, 25-year-old Misty Velvet Dawn Spann, made initial appearances in Stephens County district court. Under Oklahoma law, marrying a close relative is considered incest whether or not a sexual relationship exists.

According to a police affidavit, officers learned about the marriage late last month amid a child welfare investigation. Patricia Spann told a state child services investigator she’d lost custody of three children, who were adopted by their paternal grandmother, but reunited with her daughter two years ago. She said she thought a marriage was OK because her name wasn’t on her daughter’s birth certificate, the affidavit states.

Detectives later learned she married her son in 2008. He filed for an annulment 15 months later citing “incest,” stating he was married to his birth mother, according to the affidavit.

Houston television station KTRK reported that the women were arrested and booked on incest-related charges in Duncan:

The children were raised by their grandmother, and Patricia allegedly told police she didn’t have any contact with her kids until two years ago.

But when they were reunited, Patricia claims she and Misty “hit it off.”

Now both women are in jail on charges of incest after getting married earlier this year.

Laws in the state of Oklahoma pertaining to incest are predicated not just upon the existence of a sexual relationship, but also upon whether a disallowed consanguineous marriage has occurred:

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.

Patricia and Misty Spann’s unusual arrests wouldn’t have been the first time a hoax news story made it into mainstream media reports had they not occurred as reported. However, a representative with whom we spoke at the Duncan Police Department confirmed that both Spanns were arrested on 6 September 2016, and two separate court dockets indicate that Patricia Spann and Misty Velvet Dawn Spann were indeed arrested and charged with incest in Stephens County in September 2016.

Although the arrests were certainly real, the nature of the women’s relationship remains unclear.

The phenomenon of genetic sexual attraction has been observed in blood relatives separated at a young age and reunited as adults.