Missing – May 30, 2012 – Mobile, AL
In a small corner of Tillman’s Corner near Mobile, Alabama, a story unfolds that defies comprehension. It was a sweltering evening on May 30, 2012, when 19-year-old Brittney Wood said goodbye to her mother, Chessie Wood, and set out on a seemingly ordinary journey to visit a friend. Little did anyone know that this would be the last time Chessie would see her daughter.
The day Brittney vanished remains shrouded in mystery. Early interviews with Chessie conveyed that Brittney appeared content when she left their home. However, in retrospect, Chessie now reveals that her daughter seemed agitated or frustrated, cryptically uttering that Chessie would not understand and promising to return later.
Despite claiming she was visiting a friend, it was later discovered that Brittney had left with Donnie Holland, her uncle, embarking on an hour-long journey to a residence near Styx River in Robertsdale. Phone records indicate ongoing communication throughout the day, abruptly ceasing around 11:30 pm when all incoming calls began going to voicemail. The last known ping from Brittney’s phone occurred at 1:47 am in Grand Bay, closer to her home in Mobile County. It was an enigmatic trail that seemed to vanish into thin air.
Two days later, the devastating news of Holland’s fate reached Brittney’s family. He was discovered inside his SUV in a secluded wooded area near his home, a gunshot wound to the back of his head. Although officially ruled a suicide, the circumstances surrounding Holland’s death raise suspicions of foul play. Curiously, Brittney’s handgun, along with her cell phone battery, was found in the vehicle, leading to speculations that Holland may have been murdered using Brittney’s own weapon. Tragically, Holland’s demise occurred just half an hour before his scheduled meeting with former Baldwin County Investigator Eric Winberg, a meeting that could have shed light on the ongoing sex-abuse investigation.
Upon learning of Holland’s fate, Brittney’s family desperately tried to reach her, but their attempts proved fruitless. Concern morphed into panic, and on June 2, they reported her missing.
In the years that have passed since Brittney vanished, countless tips have been investigated, and searches have been conducted, yet the puzzle of her whereabouts remains unsolved. In 2014, the Mobile Police Department analyzed evidence from a car believed to be connected to Brittney’s case, but it yielded no breakthroughs. In July 2020, a glimmer of hope emerged when an age-progression image of Brittney led to an investigation at a residence in Grand Bay. Cadaver dogs detected a scent in the area, prompting extensive digging, but no significant discoveries were made.
Today, Brittney’s case remains open, under the jurisdiction of the Mobile Police Department. While authorities hold grim suspicions that she may no longer be alive, she is officially listed as a missing person. No trace of her, her belongings, or her phone has ever been found. Investigators diligently pursue leads and information as they emerge.
As the investigation into Brittney’s disappearance unfolds, it is impossible to ignore the dark shadow cast by the sexual abuse allegations that surrounded her family. Many relatives feel that the pursuit of justice in the abuse case eclipsed the urgency of finding Brittney, raising questions about a potential connection between the two investigations.
In the days leading up to her disappearance, Brittney exchanged Facebook messages with another victim of abuse within their circle. Authorities suspect that she may have been on the verge of publicly exposing the child sex ring, a revelation that could have precipitated her vanishing. Some family members believe that Brittney confronted Holland about the abuse allegations, resulting in her untimely demise, followed by Holland’s own tragic decision to end his life. One thing remains certain—Brittney’s profound love for her daughter would have never allowed her to abandon her life willingly, no matter the circumstances.
Brittney’s journey is not over. As long as her name is spoken, her story shared, and her pursuit for answers remains alive, there is hope. The collective effort to find Brittney Wood stands as a testament to the power of community, compassion, and unwavering determination in the face of unimaginable adversity.
In the fall of 2021, Peacock released “Monster in the Shadows,” a docuseries that delves into the details and circumstances surrounding Brittney’s disappearance. Chessie, alongside other family members and friends, shares their accounts, hoping to shed light on the case that has haunted them for years. Though local law enforcement did not participate in the documentary, former Baldwin County detective Eric Winberg lends his insights through an independent interview.