Brother Cops

It had to be more than just chance that Dave Stull and Eric Reynolds became cops.

Boynton Beach Police Officer Eric Reynolds, left, and Sgt. Dave Stull of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Photo Boynton Police Department.

Looking back now Eric reckons, it’s the DNA.

He might be on to something.

The two men, who both live in Florida but had until recently never met, learned through 23andMe that they were not just brothers in blue, but half-brothers too.

Their story has, as Eric likes to say, “blown up.” Getting attention from the Miami Herald, the New York Post, and Fox News, as well as a host of other publications.

With more and more people using 23andMe, we are increasingly hearing from customers like Eric and Dave who have discovered newfound relatives, siblings, or birth parents. But their story, with sort of parallel lives that only now have intersected, struck a chord.

Dave, a sergeant with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department who was adopted as an infant, said he tested in part because he never had much information about his biological family, or family medical history. He tested after both of his adoptive parents had passed away, mostly to see if he had any hidden health issues.

“I wanted to see if I was gonna go bald,” he joked.

He’s not likely to go bald, but right away his 23andMe showed him something else entirely. After opting into DNA Relatives, Dave clicked over to see his results and at the top of the list was Eric, a predicted half-brother.

Dave, left, and Eric after meeting for the first time in person at Dave’s home.

Dave, who for all his 50 years had been an only child, sent Eric a message:

“Good morning, my name is David Stull. According to 23andMe, we are half-brothers.”

Eric, a police officer at the Boynton Police Department, didn’t know what to make the message at first. He had a lot of questions, and he Googled Dave. Just looking at the picture, he knew it wasn’t a fluke. The brothers figured out that they shared the same father, who had been unaware of Dave’s birth. When Eric contacted his dad, he told him he had a “brand new bouncing baby boy.”

And now he had a big brother.

When Eric had the first test with 23andMe three years ago, it was less to find relatives and more to look at his ancestry and traits and suss out more about where his gung ho personality came from. He is the kind of guy who runs toward danger not away from it, and in 2013 received an award for his part in a part in the chase of a bank robbery suspect. He wondered if that was buried in his ancestry somewhere.

While genetics may explain why these two brothers both chose to work in law enforcement, they also both had family connections that nurtured that interest. For Eric, it was his mom, who served as a homicide detective in Miami.

For Dave, it all tracks back to when he was 4 years old when a cousin he looked up to was a police officer. His cousin gave him some department patches, a blue hat, and handcuffs. Ever since then he knew he wanted to be a cop, he said.

As the two try to make up for lost time, they are also planning a big family gathering. They’ll be coming together for Eric’s retirement and give a chance for Dave to meet his birth father in person as well as another half brother and half-sister.

Meanwhile, the two brother cops continue to marvel at the different coincidences in their lives.

“We’re still learning so much about each other,” Eric said at a press conference given by the Boynton Police Department about their discovery. “It’s amazing.”