Two women who have been best friends since they met in middle school have now discovered they are biological sisters.
Ashley Thomas, 31, and Latoya Wimberly, 29, of Philadelphia have been inseparable for 17 years. People often commented that they look alike. As children, they had identical gaps in their front teeth, high cheek bones and the same complexion. They also wore the same size in shoes. They shared the same interests, including in music and fashion. At one point, they even dated brothers.
Though they were really close, they never suspected they were biological sisters until in January 2020 when Latoya Wimberly, 29, had a party to celebrate her engagement. Ashley Thomas, 31, shared photos from the party on Facebook. Some of the photos included Latoya Wimberly’s father, Kenneth Wimberly.
While looking at the photos online, a friend of Ashley Thomas’ mother saw Kenneth and realized she knew him.
“Ashley’s mom’s best friend told her she had no idea my dad was Kenny,” Latoya Wimberly said. “She said she and Ashley’s mom used to hang around him back when they were young. When Ashley told me, I knew something didn’t click. So I asked her to send me a picture of her mom’s best friend and showed it to my dad and asked him if he recognized her.”
Kenneth immediately recognized the woman. And later, when shown a photo of Ashley Thomas’ mother, he recognized her, too. He revealed they had had a brief romantic relationship.
When he was told that Ashley Thomas did not know who her biological father was, Kenneth suspected it might be him and he volunteered to go for a DNA test with his daughter Latoya and her friend Ashley.
On February 21, 2020, the results came in and the girls discovered that they are indeed sisters.
“It was a Friday, and I was at work when I got the call,” Ashley Thomas said. “When Kenny told me he was my dad, chills went through my body. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t process it. I couldn’t even talk to them.”
Thomas was 15 when she learned that the man who had raised her was not her biological father. Her mother, who died 11 years ago, never told her who may have been her father. Ashley’s family had also never met Latoya’s family, so they didn’t suspect anything.
However, Ashley hung out with Latoya a lot, her father Kenneth played a fatherly role in her life, without knowing she’s his biological daughter.”
Ashley was the only one of my friends who didn’t miss a single family event,” Latoya Wimberly said. “She was extremely close to my entire family on both sides. If my father is taking me out, Ashley’s coming with me. If someone asks who are those girls, he says ‘Those are my girls.’ If she has a car problem or any kind of issue, she always goes to my dad. But somehow our families never met.”
Ashley Thomas described the discovery as “beautiful,” but also “extremely emotional.”
She said: “I have so many questions for my mom and I will never have any of those answers. Did she know he was my father?”
She added: “Big Kenny was like my dad. He was there for me the whole time and I had no idea.”
Ashley Thomas, who has two children, said: “It’s just a weird feeling. It’s definitely going to take some time. I’m still in disbelief. But I want him to be a part of his grandchildren’s lives.”
Latoya Wimberly said she’s happy for their sisterhood to be official, but also feels guilty that Kenneth was more involved in her life than Ashley’s.
“I watched Ashley go through so many things growing up and now all I can think about is that her father was here and he could have been there for her just like he was for me,” said Latoya. “So that’s very emotional.”
Thomas said he’s looking forward to building a stronger relationship with Thomas and “loving her as his daughter.” Although Ashley’s mother never told him she was pregnant after their brief relationship as teenagers, he said: ‘If she called me with some car stuff or if she and Toya wanted to come over for dinner, they would come and hang out.
During an interview on Good Morning America, Kenneth Wimberly shared “As a father, I’ve always been there and I’ve always raised my children and this deprived Ashley of having me in her life to raise her.” He also said of Thomas, his now-oldest child. “I just feel so bad for her but we can’t undo what happened.”
“She always called me Big Kenny and now it’s moving from Big Kenny to dad and it takes a little while to get used to,” he said. “But she just looks at me when she does it and smiles.”
‘I asked her one time, “Where’s your dad? He won’t help you out with your car stuff?” and she said they didn’t have a good relationship and that was it.
‘I am happy that she’s my daughter. And everyone is happy that she’s a part of the family. It was just God’s work.’
He also wants to spend more time with his newfound grandchildren.
“I’ve always seen the little ones around and this entire time they were my grandchildren and I didn’t even know,” he said.