A long time ago incest was considered acceptable and even favorable in some circles. The Ancient Egyptians for example were well-known to have practiced marriage combinations between brothers and sisters, parents and children, uncles and nieces and aunts and nephews. Tutankhamen himself was the product of incest between a brother and sister, and he went on to marry his own half-sister. Cleopatra also married both of her brothers.
Examples exist in more modern times too; Queen Victoria married her first cousin and encouraged incestuous unions for her grandchildren, and Charles Darwin came to realize that the abnormalities that some of his children were born with was the result of his marriage to his first cousin. Of course nowadays the idea of an incestuous relationship is taboo, not to mention illegal in most places. Despite this, shocking cases of family members tying the knot do crop up now and again, and here are 15 stomach-churning stories to prove it.
52-year-old Kim West and her 33-year-old biological son Ben Ford, caused quite a stir last year when they went public with their relationship. The couple have now been together for three years and plan to get married, after Ben reached out to his mom via a letter in 2013. Kim was forced to give her son up for adoption only a week after he was born, but after reuniting the couple have said they believe their relationship is 'meant to be'.
After the couple began talking regularly on the phone they finally agreed to meet, and both admitted they had developed feelings for one another. Ben broke up with his then-wife, and the pair made it official, with Kim telling New Day that their sex was "incredible and mind-blowing." She also added: "We are like peas in a pod and meant to be together. I know people will say we're disgusting, that we should be able to control our feelings, but when you're hit by a love so consuming you are willing to give up everything for it, you have to fight for it."
14 A Very Dark Turn
In 2012, 45-year-old Tracy Shannon Nessl embarked on a relationship with Timothy McNamara, who also happened to be her uncle. After the pair bonded while at a family get-together in their hometown of Soap Lake, they decided to get together but moved all the way to Belize in order to avoid criticism from friends and family. Despite the fact they shared a bloodline Tracy was adamant that the pair were meant to be, telling KREM: "It's like we were soul mates. He was the man I fell in love with. Our souls connected."
However, the couple's lives took an even more bizarre and tragic turn when Timothy was found with a fatal gunshot to the head at their Belizean farm in 2014. Despite her remaining adamant that it was a suicide, Tracy was arrested on suspicion of murder, and Timothy's adult children have spoken out about their belief that Tracy, their cousin, killed their father. "The evidence is all there; it's all there," Timothy's daughter Jennifer Ralston said.
13 The Deed With Grandma
Despite risking a prison sentence for incest, 72-year-old Pearl Carter and her 26-year-old grandson Phil Bailey have been together for four years, and are even planning on having a baby together after paying a surrogate mother £20,000 to have Phil's child. The pair met when Phil tracked Pearl down after his mother (the daughter that Pearl put up for adoption as a teenager) died of cancer. They both felt an immediate sexual attraction to one another, and it wasn't long before they took their relationship to the next level.
Pearl said in an interview with New Idea: “Living with Phil as my life partner has been amazing. He cooks and cleans and we make love three times a week. We can’t keep our hands off each other," while Phil added: “I love Pearl with all my heart. I’ve always been attracted to older women and I think Pearl is gorgeous. Now I’m going to be a dad and I can’t wait. Yes, we get laughed at and bullied when we go out and kiss in public but we don’t care. You can’t help who you fall for.”
12 Sugar Daddy
Though some cases of incestuous marriage come about accidentally with the couple unaware of their blood connection, the same definitely can't be said for 67-year-old Bruce McMahon and his daughter Linda Hodge. When Bruce - a billionaire and one of the wealthiest men in the US - was reunited with his long-lost love child, the pair immediately hit it off. However, despite their relationship starting as a platonic one, years later it turned much less innocent.
They became so close that they even got married in London's Westminster Abbey in 2004, but a year later things had turned nasty and Bruce filed for divorce. In court papers he claimed their relationship had never been a sexual one, despite tests showing that both his and Linda's DNA was on a sex toy found in the latter's suitcase. Suggestive emails were also found, including one from Bruce to Linda saying, "Miss you. Think nasty things about you all the time," to which she replied: "Mmm yeah, nasty is so good. You must have read my mind. What else can we say, we're H & W -- that's the beauty."
11 A Chance Meeting...
An anonymous Irish couple hit the headlines in 2010 when they spoke to newspaper The Irish Times about their relationship - admitting that they are actually brother and sister. The couple, using the alias' James and Maura, explained that they had been together for years and had even had a child together, before learning the truth.
The pair grew up in different towns but met by chance on a night out, and two years later they conceived their first child and moved in together. It wasn't until years later when James was visiting his mother for the first time in a while that the truth came out -- his mother had put the pieces together after enquiring about his girlfriend. A DNA test later proved that they were indeed in an incestuous relationship, as they shared the same father. Despite this, the couple went on to get married and have a second child, before emigrating to avoid scrutiny from those who might discover their disturbing secret.
10 Incest Made Legal
History was made in a rather unexpected way in 2014 when the New York Court of Appeals gave its blessing to an incestuous relationship between an uncle and niece. 34-year-old Huyen Nguyen from Vietnam brought the case to appeal after an immigration judge had sought to kick her out of the US, stating that her 14-year marriage to her mother's half-brother was invalid.
However, Nguyen and her 38-year-old husband, Vu Truong, won the appeal, with the ruling stating that while the laws against "parent-child and brother-sister marriages... are grounded in the almost universal horror with which such marriages are viewed... there is no comparably strong objection to uncle-niece marriages."
Meanwhile the couple's lawyer Michael Marszalkowski said he was "very happy" for his clients, adding "It really was the equivalent of cousins marrying, which has been allowed in New York state for well over 100 years."
9 Not Once But Twice
What's more disturbing than a mother marrying one of her children? How about a mother marrying TWO of her children... That's exactly what Patricia Spann did. After being arrested on charges of incest for marrying her 25-year-old daughter, it came to light that Patricia, from Oklahoma, had also wed her son years before, with that marriage eventually being annulled in 2010.
After the relationship between mother and daughter was discovered by the Department of Human Services, Patricia explained that she had lost custody of her children when they were young, and as a result they were raised by their paternal grandmother. She was reunited with her daughter in 2014. She also told police that she didn't think she was breaking the law as her name is no longer listed on her daughter's birth certificate. However, the couple both now face charges of incest, which is a felony in Oklahoma which could see them jailed for up to 10 years.
8 Father and Predator
Traditional healer Killion Moyo from Zimbabwe took it upon himself to wed his 14-year-old daughter, claiming he was fulfilling his wife's dying wish, as she had told him to "take a woman in the family" to take over her role. The 65-year-old went on to father two children with his teenage daughter before she managed to run away.
After news spread about Moyo's abusive and incestuous relationship, another two girls came forward with allegations of sexual abuse, one of which is also said to have given birth to two of his children. It was reported that Moyo forced his victims to wear a bracelet that he said would cause lighting to strike if they spoke up about the abuse. He also used this threat against villagers who knew that the abuse was happening but failed to bring attention to it for fear of Moyo's 'powers'.
7 Searching For The Same Mom
Brazilian couple Leandro and Adriana had been married for seven years and even had a six-year-old daughter when they discovered they were actually brother and sister. The couple, who chose not to reveal their surnames when they went public with their story, learnt that they had been searching for the same mother who had given them up as children. Leandro was abandoned by Maria aged eight, while Adriana was left when she was just a year old.
The couple met after Adriana moved back to Sao Paulo, where Leandro was still living, following the breakdown of her marriage. It wasn't until years later that they found out the truth after Adriana was reunited with their mother through a radio show. The couple vowed to stay together despite the obvious obstacles surrounding their relationship. Leandro said: "Of course it would have been different if we had known all this before, but we didn't and we fell in love. Only death is going to separate us. All this happened because God wanted it to happen."
6 Father and Son
Though at first a story about a man marrying his son may sound sinister, Nino's and Roland's tale is actually a rather heartwarming one. 79-year-old Nino legally adopted 69-year-old Roland back in 2012, before same-sex marriage was made legal in the US. This type of 'adoption' was common before same-sex marriage was legalized as it meant that couples would have the same legal rights as straight couples, for example when it came to things like inheritance.
However, it wasn't smooth sailing for the couple, who have been together for over four decades, in their quest to get married, as although it became legal in all 50 states in 2015, they were initially told in 2015 that they couldn't get hitched as they were still legally father and son. They then took the case to an appeal court where thankfully it was decided that the adoption would be dissolved.
5 An Unusual Arrangement
25-year-old Narayan Biswas made headlines in 2004 when he wed his 80-year-old grandmother in India in a tradition Hindu ceremony. However, the marriage was rather more innocent than it may first seem; Narayan wanted to look after his granny in her old age. "I felt she needed extra care as she is old. I can look after her better as a husband than as a grandson," he said. "As a husband, I am with her all the time, to care for her."
Meanwhile, his grandmother, Premeds Biswas, said she was very happy with the unusual arrangement, saying, "I helped bring him up with my own hands and now he looks after me. He is a good husband and ensures I get my meals on time." Although getting married to a blood relative is illegal under the Hindu Marriage Act, local officials chose not to take action against the couple.
4 A Terrible Secret
In a story that is almost too shocking to be true, 65-year-old Valerie Spruill made a life-shattering discovery a few years after the death of her husband Percy -- he was also her biological father. The dark secret had been kept from her by members of her own family; it wasn't until six years after Percy died that Valerie's uncle finally told her the truth, and a DNA test then confirmed it.
Valerie had never known much about her father, except that he and her mother were very young when she was conceived. As a result, she was sent to live with her grandparents, and only found out who her mother was when she was 8 or 9. Nobody talked about her biological father though, and Valerie remains unsure as to whether or not he had known the truth. "I don't know if he ever knew or not. That conversation didn't come up," she said. "I think if he did know, there is no way he could have told me."
3 Twins In Love
In 2008 a married couple from England were dealt a seriously shocking blow when they discovered that not only were they related, they were actually twins. The unnamed husband and wife (and brother and sister) had been separated at birth and adopted into different families; they were not even aware of each other's existence.
When they met as adults they had no idea they were actually related, but both admitted to feeling an "inevitable attraction". It wasn't until after their marriage that the couple became aware of the "appalling" truth - though it's not clear how this came about. They then made the emotional decision to have their union annulled. Audrey Sandbank, a family therapist and author of Twins and Triplet Psychology, said of the case: "This is a terrible trauma for them. They lost each other as babies and now they have lost each other again. They have been bereaved twice."
2 I Married My Nephew
Telling people that you married your aunt would conjure up all kinds of disturbing images in someone's head... but the reality for 28-year-old Ryan Day, who also happens to be a top snooker player ranked eighth in the world, is a little different. He wed his 32-year-old aunt Lynsey in 2008, and the couple also have a child together. However, although the pair met when Ryan was just a teenager, they are not blood-related; Lynsey is the sister of Ryan's father's wife.
She said of their relationship: "Some people like to keep family at arm's length, but we're all very close - obviously. I know some will see it as a source of amusement that he's married his auntie, as it were. But I can see the funny side. It seems incredible now to remember first meeting Ryan when he was a grumpy teenage boy. He was always a nice lad underneath it, though. Who'd have thought then that this shy, awkward, moody teenager would become the greatest love of my life?"
1 Losing Virginity To Dad
In 2015 a seriously scandalous story broke about an 18-year-old who was in the process of organizing her wedding. Of course that alone wouldn't be so shocking, but the man she was planning on marrying was actually her father. The girl, who chose to tell her story anonymously, revealed that she had begun a sexual relationship with her dad when they reunited after being estranged for 12 years - she even lost her virginity to him.
They reconnected after the girl's father messaged her on Facebook when she was 16, and had sex soon after when she went to go visit him for a week. She said of their sex life to New York magazine: "We are so similar, so it’s so easy to sexually please each other. For example, we both love neck-biting. I’ve never been in a more passionate, loving, fulfilling situation." The pair plan to move to New Jersey where the laws surrounding incest are less harsh, and they also plan to start a family.