It started when they recognized her, told her that they’d seen her before, but that couldn’t have been right, she’d only just moved to the town.
But after meeting another like her she would never be able to go on with her life and forget about the moment. She needed to find out the truth. But she had no idea her mother tried to keep the secret from her.
Rachelle Dyer and Kristelle Arthur had that indescribable connection that only twins can know. The sisters did everything together while they were growing up in Washington State. They finished each other’s sentences, dressed alike, and shared everything in their lives.
When Rachelle had to leave, it left a gaping void in both of their hearts.
In 2004, Rachelle, her husband, and their son left Seattle. Rachelle had accepted a teaching position at Tallwood Elementary School in Virginia Beach. Of course, she had no idea that she had just taken the first step in a chain of events that would take ten years to unfold.
Fate had wanted her in Virginia… for a reason she wouldn’t know until much later.
Starting A New Life
Rachelle had left the rest of her family in Washington – including her beloved twin sister, Kristelle. She wanted to pursue her teaching career. But, as anyone who has ever tried to start a new life in a strange and unfamiliar town will know, she was having trouble adjusting.
And she kept having to answer the same strange question.
The Question Kept Coming Up
Although neither Rachelle nor her sister had ever been to Virginia before, people kept insisting that they knew her. They kept asking if she’d been in the area sometime in the past, but Rachelle’s puzzling answer was always no, she’d grown up in Washington… practically on the other side of the country.
Little did Rachelle know, she was about to unlock Pandora’s Box. And this question was the key.
Rachelle missed her sister terribly and she didn’t know anyone in Virginia. But she was determined to embrace this new life she’d carved out for herself. Putting her heartache aside, she threw herself into her work.
The faculty at Tallwood Elementary seemed to take an instant liking to her, which made things considerably easier. But she’d soon find out why.
Rachelle made a few new friends, but everyone she met insisted that they’d seen her before. She started to think that she must just have “one of those faces”. It was annoying to her that nobody in this town seemed to be able to just let it go.
In fact, the people around her were only growing more persistent. Luckily, one day, their persistence paid off.
Making The Connection
A few of Rachelle’s coworkers thought they had finally made the connection. They told her that she looked just like another woman who had previously worked at the same school.
Although the woman had been younger than Rachelle at the time, they insisted that her resemblance to Rachelle was remarkable. Her name was Shannon Nicoll.
Shannon had left Tallwood Elementary and was currently teaching at nearby King’s Grant Elementary. Soon, the news of the mysterious new woman in Virginia who looked just like her – and had, in fact, replaced her – was all over the school.
Shannon and Rachelle’s friends began to hatch a plan for the two to meet, but they could never have imagined the consequences.
People showed Rachelle pictures of her doppelganger working at King’s Grant. And she had to admit, they did share similar features. But she brushed it off as just that – the two women looked similar.
Similarly, Shannon didn’t give their resemblance any more thought and chalked it down to a wild coincidence. In fact, it only made her miss her sister Kristelle even more. Until five years later.
The Truth Trying To Get Out
The truth of the entire situation would only reveal itself in 2009. It was only then that Shannon and Rachelle met for the first time. Their mutual friends had tried to make the meeting happen before but never succeeded.
Country superstar Kenny Chesney was passing through the area when a golden opportunity presented itself.
Two Worlds Collide
A mutual friend invited Shannon and Rachelle to the Kenny Chesney concert. And when their two worlds collided, there was no undoing it.
When Rachelle saw Shannon for the first time, it was like looking in a mirror. The pale hair and blue eyes, the heart-shaped lips, the chin that came to a sharp point… they snapped a selfie, and the pair became fast friends after that. Rachelle and Kristelle’s mother must have been turning in her grave.
Ten years later, in 2019, It was purely coincidental that Tallwood Elementary was running an ancestry project. And that’s when the principal suggested that Rachelle take a DNA test.
Being adopted, Rachelle was naturally curious about her and her sister’s biological mother, but she never suspected that something as simple as an innocent DNA test would turn her world completely upside down.
A Cousin Emerges
Unfortunately, all that the DNA test revealed was a cousin named Tracey Hall, but it was this revelation that would set Rachelle on the right path to finding her truth.
She reached out to Tracey and was surprised to discover that the cousin she hadn’t even known had existed knew all about her. And she had been keeping a monumental secret for years.
A Family Secret
Tracey thought carefully about revealing the secret her own mother, Sue Hall, had entrusted to her all those years ago. But secrets have a way of outing themselves. She decided it was high time that the family scandal was dragged out into the light.
It was a secret that her mother had taken to the grave, and Tracey didn’t want to hang on to the burden anymore. With a shaking voice, she told Rachelle everything.
Uncovering The Truth
Tracey’s mother, Sue, had a sister named Janice Moore. Rachelle listened to what Tracey told her with bated breath. She knew that she was about to finally unlock the truth of her identity. But did she really want to know?
She had thought about it long and hard, and had decided that she had to know… she needed to know who her mother had been, and where she had come from. And Tracey was more than ready to spill all the details.
The Family She Never Knew
Tracey then went on to tell Rachelle that her sister, Janice, had given birth to twin girls. Unfortunately, she was unable to care for them and decided to put them up for adoption. These twin babies were Rachelle and her sister, Kristelle.
This news was hardly a revelation, as Rachelle knew that she and her sister had been adopted. But now, at least, she knew who her mother was. Tracey continued, but what she revealed next shattered Rachelle’s world.
When Janice had found out that she was pregnant with twins in the 1960s, she had made a tough decision to give them up. Their father had abandoned her and she couldn’t give her babies the life they deserved.
Two years later, Janice fell in love with a man named Dean Holley, and they married and started a family.
A Familiar Name
It turned out that Janice had given birth to another pair of twins just a few years after she had given Rachelle and her sister up. Rachelle was floored to hear that these women were living in Virginia Beach.
Their names were Lisa Holley and Shannon Nicoll. When Rachelle heard Shannon’s name, it was like a bolt from the blue. Rachelle started to shake, and her face turned white. She pulled out her phone and started dialing.
When Rachelle told Shannon the news, she was in complete shock. “Lisa and I had no idea at all that our mother had even given birth to twins in the past.”
She also added, “Rachelle and her sister knew that they were adopted all these years, so for us, it was pretty mind-blowing.” What the supposed friends had felt for each other was far more than friendship — it was a family bond.
The Wondering Was Over
“Janice was determined to do the best thing for the twins, and we always wondered about them,” Tracey revealed in an interview. So it was a wonderful surprise when Rachelle made contact.
The four siblings wasted no time, and once the initial shock wore off, they were eager to try to be siblings in earnest. And when they all met up in person, the similarities didn’t end with appearances.
One Big Family
All four siblings spoke in a similar manner, and they shared particular likes and dislikes. When one of them spoke, another would finish the sentence. It was remarkable and uncanny how alike the four siblings were.
“Both of my children came to the dinner, and every time the four of us would laugh, they put their hands over their mouths because they couldn’t believe how much we sounded alike. I mean, we were finishing each other’s sentences,” Shannon remarked. But there were more strange coincidences that the four women shared.
Shannon describes just one instance of the startling coincidences the sisters shared: “My husband’s dad’s birthday is the same as our birth mother’s. Our mom had a pilot’s license, and my husband’s mom did too. All this is mind-boggling, but it’s so very wonderful.”
But now that the long-lost sisters have found each other, will they make up for the years they spent apart?
The sisters will continue to spend holidays together as one big family, and their reunion has also helped Shannon and Lisa overcome the enormous loss of their mother, Janice.
“For us, with losing mom recently, she was Thanksgiving, she was Christmas; she was all of those things and made it everything. There’s been that void there, but now we feel like we have a piece of her.” But the sisters believe that it wasn’t merely a coincidence that they finally found each other.
Pieces Of Her
“All four of us feel like she’s had a big hand in this, getting us all together at this time in our lives. We all really needed it,” Rachelle said.
“I’ve never had my own family in Virginia Beach. And Lisa and Shannon don’t have the mom they grew up with there anymore. But I like to think that now they have two new pieces of her in me and Kristelle.”
A Viral Story
Unsurprisingly, the story of the four sisters finding each other went viral on Facebook. People were awed by the possibility of fate throwing them together again after so many years apart, and were stunned that Janice, their mother, had managed to keep her secret for so long.
The sisters also appeared on Good Morning America, where they shared their amazing story.
Could you imagine finding not one, but three siblings that you never knew existed? Of course, most people would be ecstatic. As of 2018, home DND tests were submitted by 25 million Americans, so it’s no surprise that stories like these sisters have started popping up all around the world.
With access to online DNA databases, more and more people are getting in touch with their long-lost relatives. But for one woman named Rebecca, the DNA test that was supposed to be a fun gift exposed a very dark truth.
Rebecca couldn’t wait to give her parents the Christmas gifts she’d bought them. However, the home DNA kits she thought would be a fun way for them to discover their family history would turn their lives upside down.
She’d thought that tracing their family roots would have been fun. She hoped it would give them a glimpse into their family history. She had no idea that when the DNA test did so that it would completely shatter her worldview.
Rebecca Cartellone and her parents had a very good relationship with each other. She decided to buy the whole family, including herself a DNA testing kit as Christmas gifts. Rebecca thought that it would be something fun they could do together.
However, when she bought the kits she had no idea what turmoil was about to descend on them. Her simple gift would result in a massive scandal that would not only shock them but would shatter their ideas about their family.
Rebecca had been born in November 1994. She was the only child of Joseph and Jennifer Cartellone. Naturally, her parents doted on her as she grew up. Even as an adult her parents doted on her.
Rebecca had always had an interest in her family’s history and where they all came from. So at the age of twenty-four, she decided to buy the DNA kits so that they could all explore the family roots together, especially since her father’s side was Italian.
When she decided to buy the DNA kits, Rebecca had only ever intended for it to be a way to explore their family heritage. It was little more, in Rebecca’s mind, than a fun activity for them all to do together.
They all eagerly collected their samples, placed them in the provided containers, and sent them off to the labs to become tested. However, the Cartellones had no idea what awaited them as the results would tear apart their entire world.
Finally, after a two-month wait, the results finally arrived. It had seemed strange that it took so long for the results to arrive. So in February 2019 Rebecca, Joseph, and Jennifer eagerly opened the results to see what they would reveal.
According to the results, Rebecca and Jennifer unsurprisingly shared most of the same DNA as would be expected. However, what they didn’t expect was the results of her father’s DNA. According to the results, Rebecca and Joseph shared no DNA whatsoever.
In August 2019, Joseph spoke to Good Morning America about what happened and revealed what happened next. “When we looked at the results, what we immediately noticed was that there were no traces of Italian DNA in [Rebecca’s results] at all…”
Joseph added: “And her DNA matched my wife’s pretty closely.” However, there was more to come and the family had no idea what a storm of questions they were about to face.
Naturally, in the beginning, Joseph and his family believed that it had just been a simple mistake. As a result, the family contacted the company that created the DNA kits in the hopes of sorting out this mixup.
However, the company responded and said that due to the nature of the process and the rigorous testing that the samples underwent there would be almost no room for error. So what did that mean? Joseph knew he had to get to the bottom of what happened.
To clear up the obvious misunderstanding, Rebecca and Joseph decided to take a paternity test together. They waited anxiously for the results. Then they finally got the results they eagerly took a look only to have their worst nightmares confirmed.
Needless to say, Joseph was stunned and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He never once questioned his wife’s faithfulness in their relationship. But something was amiss. However, that left only one possibility.
A Dark Secret
“My disbelief turned quickly to shock and then ultimately to anger that this could possibly be the case,” Joseph explained on Good Morning America.
The paternity test had confirmed that Rebecca and Joseph were not biologically connected at all. And these findings would ultimately reveal a scandal that went far beyond mere infidelity on Jennifer’s part. It was much, much worse.
The Terrible Truth
Joseph grappled with the truth, not wanting to believe it. His mind wandered back to a period in 1993, just before Rebecca was conceived. Could it be possible? He pictured Jennifer’s doctor’s face in his mind, and his confusion became rage.
All the evidence told him that Rebecca wasn’t his biological child. It couldn’t be wrong — science doesn’t lie. But people do.
Back In Time
Joseph remembered 1993 well – it was a terrible year. He and Jennifer had been married for a while before they realized that something was very wrong.
After Jennifer had come clean with him, he had been supportive. He had told her that as long as they had each other, nothing else mattered. But that hadn’t been enough for her.
It was after Jennifer showed him the umpteenth negative pregnancy test that he conceded. They were having trouble conceiving, and he was terrified that the fault lay with him. But he would only find out that that was indeed the case 24 years later.
The couple decided to visit what was then named the Greater Cincinnati Institute for Reproductive Health. Jennifer was desperate to try.
Weighing Their Options
After countless tests, the couple explored the options with their doctor. And, after much careful deliberation, they decided to try in vitro fertilization, or IVF.
The procedure would be vastly expensive, and they had no guarantee that it would even work. But at this point, Jennifer was willing to try anything. But something had gone horribly wrong.
What Does It Mean?
As many will know, IVF involves an egg being fertilized with sperm in a lab environment before it is implanted inside a woman’s uterus – in this case, Jennifer’s.
And before the Cartellones underwent the procedure, they had been assured that Joseph’s sperm would be used to inseminate Jennifer’s eggs, meaning that he would be the biological father. So, just what had gone wrong?
A Complete Stranger
Well, in light of Rebecca’s DNA results, it appears that sperm belonging to someone else was used during the IVF process. And the doctor had never imagined that he would be caught out.
Naturally, then, the Cartellone family felt as though they had been betrayed. Speaking at a news conference in August 2019, Joseph explained, “This has been extremely difficult for my family.”
Abuse Of Trust
Joseph continued, “I never would have imagined the Christmas gift of a home DNA kit would unveil this kind of abuse of our trust. For our daughter Rebecca, it’s even tougher. She’s experiencing significant emotional stress and confusion concerning her own identity.”
It appeared, too, that the results had also had a major impact on the man who had previously assumed he was Rebecca’s biological father.
Hard To Explain
Speaking candidly at the news conference, Joseph said, “It’s hard to explain the shock and agony when you find out that someone you love and care for — your own daughter — is not genetically related to you…”
“There’s a mix of anger, pain, and confusion that comes along with having to accept this and having to break the news to our family.”
And while speaking about Jennifer’s reaction, Joseph revealed, “She has to deal with the fact that this clinic… fertilized her eggs with a complete stranger’s sperm and placed them in her body…
She’s profoundly disappointed that she can no longer give birth to a child with both of our genetics… And that’s exactly why we sought the help of doctors… in the first place.”
A Civil Lawsuit
So, after making their shocking discovery, Joseph and Jennifer filed a civil lawsuit against The Christ Hospital Health Network, Ovation Fertility Cincinnati — today called the Institute for Reproductive Health.
In particular, the Cartellones alleged that the original lab that had helped them conceive Rebecca had in fact used another man’s sperm. Of course, the case shocked the world.
The law firm representing the family, Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane, specializes in taking on fertility clinics for alleged misconduct.
And while speaking at the Cartellones’ press conference, managing shareholder Joseph C. Peiffer said of the family’s case, “This is a massive betrayal of trust and an unthinkable break of trust.” After an investigation was conducted, a scandalous detail came to light.
According to the firm, moreover, only one of five people could be Rebecca’s biological father – with a doctor at The Christ Hospital allegedly among these individuals!
Crucially, The Christ Hospital had previously been associated with the Greater Cincinnati Institute for Reproductive Health, where Joseph and Jennifer had undergone IVF. But what had really happened?
“The defense should go through their records and find whose sperm they used to create the embryo… We have no idea if this was intentional or a horrifically negligent accident. We’ve asked, but we’ve been met with radio silence,” the Cartellones’ lawyer Adam Wolf told the Daily Mail.
In response, The Christ Hospital simply stated that it was “evaluating the allegations surrounding events alleged to have occurred in the early 1990s.”
Left To Wonder
The Cartellones’ suit continues to make its way through legal proceedings, although it may be a long journey to the truth.
And in the meantime, Rebecca can only wonder about who she is and whether she has further biological relatives – ones that she may not have known about if it hadn’t been for an at-home DNA test.