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Girls Mixed Up as Newborns, Tests Show

November 20, 1989|from Associated Press

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Results of genetic testing of a 10-year-old girl at the center of a baby-mix-up controversy prove that she is the child of the couple claiming her and not of the man who reared her, attorneys for both sides said Sunday.

John Blakely, who represents Ernest and Regina Twigg, said the findings indicated a 99.9% certainty that Kimberly Michelle Mays is the daughter of the Twiggs, not of Robert Mays and his late wife.

"Today's the day that ends the guessing," Blakely said at a meeting in his Clearwater office with the Twiggs and their seven other children, ages 6 to 21.

The Twiggs say that Kimberly was switched with another baby girl at the Florida maternity hospital where they were born. The girl the Twiggs took home, named Arlena and reared as their own, died last year.

After learning of the test results, Mays sat quietly for a few moments, then asked for the location of Arlena's grave in Pennsylvania, his attorney, Arthur Ginsburg, told reporters in Sarasota. The Twiggs had moved to Pennsylvania two years ago, in part to seek medical treatment for Arlena.

"Certainly (Mays) was prepared for this," Ginsburg said. "It was pretty clear there was a heavy probability this was true. I think he was hoping against hope. That wasn't the case."

Ginsburg said he had double-checked the test results.

"There's no question that this child is the child of Ernest and Regina Twigg, and there is no question that the child that died was Bob Mays' child," the attorney said.

Mays, who was in seclusion Sunday, plans to spend some days alone with Kimberly, Ginsburg said.

"I think the tack he will take is, 'Don't worry, I'm still going to be your daddy,' " Ginsburg said.

Mays agreed to the genetic testing only after the Twiggs promised not to seek custody of the hazel-eyed fifth-grader if she turned out to be their daughter. Under their agreement, the Twiggs still may seek visiting rights.

Ginsburg said Sunday that Mays may seek to block visiting rights if psychologists determine it would be too traumatic for Kimberly. Regina Twigg said that she and her husband and the girl may exchange letters and scrapbooks before they meet in person.

The Twiggs began their fight last year after learning through genetic tests that Arlena, the girl they reared, was not their biological daughter. She died of a heart defect in 1988 and never knew about the questions raised. The Twiggs said that a blood test before her death revealed that Arlena was not related to either of them.

A lab report from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said that eight different genetic tests showed Kimberly is not related to Robert Mays or to the mother or father of his first wife, Barbara, who died in 1981.

The Twiggs have sued Hardee Memorial Hospital in U.S. District Court in Tampa, claiming that employees at the Wauchula hospital switched their baby shortly after birth for Arlena, who was sickly from birth. Kimberly was the only other white girl born at Hardee at about the same time in late 1978.

In the federal suit filed by Blakely, the Twiggs claim the switch occurred through negligence, medical malpractice or deliberate acts. Blakely said it would be up to a jury to decide how the mistake was made.

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