Using a 23andMe test, a genealogy enthusiast discovered that her daughter, who was conceived through the help of artificial insemination, was not related to her husband, as they had thought, according to CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist, writing at the blog Your Genetic Genealogist. Instead, the former receptionist — and a confessed kidnapper — at the fertility clinic was.
Moore writes that the mother, who is being called Paula for privacy reasons, then sought ancestry testing using Family Tree DNA and AncestryDNA's services, as well as traditional paternity testing for her family.
Paula found that Ashley, as the daughter is being called, had a predicted second cousin on her paternal side. The second cousin told Paula that her first cousin, Thomas Ray Lippert, had lived in Salt Lake City and worked at the fertility clinic Paula and her husband had used. After seeing a picture of Lippert, Paula and her husband remembered him and that he kept his desk surrounded by pictures of babies conceived at the clinic. Lippert's mother — Lippert died the late 1990s, according to Gawker and KUTV — gave a DNA sample that confirmed Lippert was Ashley's father.
"I just thought, 'oh my gosh,' this was not an accident, this was intentional. All those photos of the babies that he was so proud of I thought, 'oh my god how many of those are his biological children?'" Paula tells the Utah CBS station KUTV.
Lippert's mother also passed along disturbing details about Lippert, Moore notes. Lippert served time for kidnapping a college student while he was a law professor and using electroshock treatments on her.
LiveScience reports that the University of Utah, which had a contract with the fertility clinic, said in a statement that it has been looking into "credible information regarding the possible mislabeling or tampering of a semen sample" at the Reproductive Medical Technologies clinic since last spring. RMTI has closed, and the university says that no records seem to explain Ashley's paternity. The university is offering free genetic tests to families that used the Midvale, Utah, clinic in the late 1980s and early 1990s, LiveScience adds.