DNA tests can reveal more than your Irish roots. Online genealogy sites such as 23andme.com and Ancestry.com offer to trace your ancestral heritage but can reveal a lot more than that. Customers who submit their DNA for testing have found their lives changes, families splintered and everything from an unknown sibling to a potential wrongdoer in the family, like the recent case of Joseph DeAngelo, who committed a series of heinous offenses across the state of California.
Here's just a sample, so to speak, of the shocking secrets that genetic tests have revealed.
A Man Discovered That His Unborn Twin Fathered His Child
When a Washington state resident and his partner were told that their son's blood type didn't match their own, they were confused. The couple had used a fertility clinic to conceive their child but when neither parent matched the boy's genetic material, they feared there had been a mix-up at the lab. Even a DNA test failed to find the cause of the anomaly.
The couple finally found their answer through the genetic genealogy testing at 23andMe. According to the test, the man who thought he was the child's father was really his uncle. How did this happen? The only explanation was that the "father" had been a twin, albeit a chimera - a twin that absorbed the cells from his sibling after the latter died in the womb.
A Man Found Out His Best Friend Was Actually His Brother
Walter Macfarlane and Alan Robinson had been friends for over six decades when they discovered that they were brothers. Both natives of Honolulu, HI, they grew up together and even vacationed with their families as adults. When both men were in their seventies, they began researching their family ancestries and discovered that they shared a birth mother.
Neither Walter nor Alan were raised by their birth parents. Walter Macfarlane's mother was going to give him up for adoption but his grandparents opted "to hanai their grandson - part of a Hawaiian practice in which a family can adopt a person informally, with or without papers." They brought him up in their home and the identity of his father remained unknown. Two years later, Alan Robinson was adopted. He knew nothing about his birth mother or his biological father.
Walter and Alan met when they were in the sixth grade and established a close bond. Once they got the results of their DNA tests, they understood why they'd been so drawn to each other. These two men, who had always felt like family, really were.
DNA Helped Solve The 64 Year Old Mystery Of A Baby Abandoned In A Phone Booth
Steve Dennis was adopted as an infant and, in his teenage years, he learned he had been abandoned in a phone booth in Lancaster, Ohio as a baby. In January 1954, two men discovered Dennis stuffed inside a phone booth. He was inside a cardboard box and wrapped in blankets with a bottle of milk left nearby. While there were many investigations after the discovery, no one ever determined who left Dennis in the phone booth and why.
64 years later, after his teenage children began asking questions about their heritage, Dennis submitted his DNA to Ancestry.com. Three months later, he received an email saying the site found a match and Dennis was able to connect with his first cousin, who revealed the name of Dennis's mother.
According to the cousin, it had been a long known family secret that someone abandoned a baby in a phone booth at one point. After getting in touch with his half sister, Dennis learned his mother was 85 and lived in Baltimore, Maryland. While it took his mother some time to recall the precise details, she eventually revealed she gave birth at 18. Dennis's father said they could only marry if they abandoned the baby and so she complied, leaving her son in a phone booth.
Dennis's father left soon after, and his location remains unknown.
A Random DNA Test Caught Joseph DeAngelo, Who Committed Nearly 100 Offenses
When Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested in late April, it was thanks to the DNA banked at the website GEDMatch. One of DeAngelo's family members had used a geneaology website and, when authorities ran evidence from unsolved crimes through a larger open-source database, they found a match for "50 confirmed [sexual assaults] and 12 homicides over a 10-county area in California between 1974 and 1986." That person was Joseph DeAngelo.
The so-called Golden State Killer struck throughout California, starting in Sacramento and East Bay before moving south to Santa Barbara and Orange County. As DeAngelo moved around California, his crimes led to the emergence of several theorized offenders, including the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, and the Visalia Ransacker, in addition to the Golden State Killer. During his run of crimes, police speculated that the suspect could be a cop because he was able to elude capture for so long. They were right. Joseph DeAngelo worked for the Auburn Police Department near Sacramento for three years.
This controversial investigation technique - using open-source DNA databases to solve cases - involves voluntary submission of DNA to third-party sites like GEDMatch. Websites like Ancestry.com and 23andMe don't automatically submit data to locations like GEDMatch but, because GEDMatch offers more specific search parameters for ancestry-seekers, the client themselves can choose to do so.