8 Investigates

Family secrets revealed: DNA kits leads local man to siblings

(WRIC) -- $59.99 and a family found, thanks to one of those fairly inexpensive at-home DNA test kits.

8News has uncovered those tests often meant to be a harmless hunt for more on one’s heritage can unearth long-buried connections.That was the case for David Sutphin.

Sutphin grew up a loving home in Hopewell with his adoptive parents and two brothers. He didn't think much about his biological parents until his adoptive mother passed.

"I kind of felt like there was an empty space,” says Sutphin.

Wilda Able living in nearby Chester knew her mother had a baby boy when she was very young.

"What I had been told was this baby was deceased,” says Able.

However, comments from relatives always made her wonder if her brother might still be out there.

Turns out, he was a living in Central Virginia. Friends gifted Sutphin a DNA test kit. After a lot of debate, he took the test.

"I would check the ancestry.com website every day," he said.

Within a couple weeks the results were in.

"It has a list of names that you are possibly related to,” says Sutphin.

He worked his way down the list until he got a hit, a cousin on his biological mother's side.

Sutphin says, "On May 8th which was my birthday, she comes back to the phone and goes your mom is Linda Huband."  

He had a name. Unfortunately, Sutphin learned his biological mother and father are dead.

Yet within a month of getting his DNA results, he was here at Rosa's Pizza in Chester meeting his sister and other relatives for the very first time. Or, so he thought.

"Walked into the building, I was met with her husband Mickey. I realized after I saw them, I knew them,” says Sutphin.

Sutphin had once waited on his sister and her husband when he worked at Big Lots on Hull Street.

“He literally one day took a lot of time and showed us recliners, my husband tried them all out,” says Able.

"I helped her never knowing it was my sister,” says Sutphin.

"We had so many years we could have known each other longer,” says Able.

Sutphin is excited to finally know more about his true identity but he admits there's some guilt. 

"It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Part of me felt like I was betraying my own family. I just wanted answers,” says Sutphin.

Both Sutphin and Able are thrilled to know the truth and finally connect. “I was so grateful that we finally found each other. And I just want to get it all in now that I can,” says Able.

"I am definitely happy I have done it,” says Sutphin.

His family tree has grown significantly.

“Here I go from have two brothers and a great family to having three sisters on my mother's side, to having three sisters on my father's side,” he explained.

Now the big dilemma for Sutphin he says, "I am trying to figure out how many Christmas cards I have to write to this year."

8News reached out to Ancestry.com for comment on DNA tests that come back with a shocking twist and we were told:

“Ancestry recognizes that the information we provide to our customers can be surprising and at times, life-changing. Our technology enables the democratization of information by offering tools to people who want to understand who they are and where they come from. We work hard to help our customers understand that some of what they learn about themselves might be unexpected and our team of member services representatives are trained to help customers understand and interpret their DNA test results and for customers with more sensitive queries, we offer a small, dedicated group of highly experienced representatives who can help guide users to their own discoveries.”

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