Sylacauga is a small town in central Alabama, nestled amid the rolling hills and forests of Talladega County. Back in the 1990s, this tight-knit community was so diminutive that it lacked fundamental establishments such as motels, restaurants, or even a solitary traffic signal. The town's limited size fostered a culture where nearly everyone was familiar with each other. Within the context of small-town Alabama, individuals within the LGBTQ+ community often chose to conceal their identities. Many found solace in relocating to the more embracing city of Birmingham. In 1999, the world would come to learn exactly why.
On 28 January, 2012,, at Brook Haven Trailer Park on Hurst St. in Opelika, Alabama, Yvonne Johnson's young son was playing behind their home when he stumbled upon a small human skull. Startled, he quickly returned home and informed his mother, who promptly contacted the police.