Two Women Who “Look Similar” Have Much, Much More In Common

When Rachelle Dyer moved across the country, she left her entire family and twin sister behind. At least, that’s what she thought. Her new life in Virginia would unravel a 50-year-long family secret that shattered everything Rachelle knew about her identity.

Had Rachelle moved anywhere else in the world, this wouldn’t have happened. Had she not gotten a job at a particular school, she would have never learned about her identity. Learn the miraculous story that has inspired and gobsmacked thousands of people across the internet.

The Move That Started It All

Rachelle Dyer toasting with her second husband
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer

In 2004, Rachelle Arthur Dyer packed up her belongings to make a life-changing move. For years, she had worked as an elementary school teacher in Seattle, Washington. Rachelle had grown up in this city, but she decided to move across the country to Virginia Beach in Virginia.

Rachelle was leaving all her family and friends behind, except for her husband. However, Virginia Beach held a secret connection that Rachelle could never have anticipated.

The Family She Left Behind

Rachelle and her twin sister Kristelle at the beach
Facebook/Kristelle R. Harrington
Facebook/Kristelle R. Harrington

For Rachelle, the hardest part of leaving Washington was saying goodbye to her twin sister, Kristelle Arthur Harrington. The twins had grown up together in Seattle with their adoptive parents and two younger brothers. Rachel’s move meant that they would be separated for the first time.

As close sisters do, Kristelle and Rachelle kept in touch. Although neither of them knew it at the time, Rachelle was moving to the right place at the right time.

As She Settled In Virginia Beach

Rachelle Dyer at her teaching job in a Christmas outfit
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer

Within the next couple of years, Rachelle resettled in Virginia Beach. She successfully found a job in teaching, working as a special education assistant teacher at Tallwood Elementary School. She divorced her husband but also formed new friendships. Life threw its ups and downs in this new town across the country.

However, as Rachelle grew closer to her colleagues at work, she kept hearing a peculiar statement. Her coworkers swore that they’d met her before.

Did Rachelle Have A Doppelganger?

Shannon Holley Nicoll, Rachelle Dyer's supposed double
Facebook/Shannon Holley Nicoll
Facebook/Shannon Holley Nicoll

At her work, Rachelle’s coworkers kept bringing up that they’d seen her face before. Of course, that couldn’t be possible, since Rachelle just moved to the town. But her colleagues assured her that she looked just like a former teacher at the school, Shannon Holley Nicoll.

Shannon had worked at the school several years before Rachelle. She left to work at a neighboring school, King’s Grant Elementary. The staff thought the coincidence was funny and tried to unite the two.

The Teachers’ First Lookalike Photo

Rachelle Dyer and Shannon Nicoll posing at a Kenny Chesney concert
Youtube/Good Morning America
Youtube/Good Morning America

Although Rachelle’s coworkers wanted to get the lookalikes together, they didn’t organize the meeting until 2009. Rachelle and Shannon met at a Kenny Chesney country concert that passed through the area. Their friends accompanied them for the fateful meeting.

When Shannon and Rachelle met, they laughed and agreed that they did look alike. Rachelle reportedly said, “Wow, this is kind of like looking in the mirror.” The two teachers snapped a photo together to capture the moment.

…But It Was Only A Passing Thought

Rachelle marrying her second husband
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer

Although both Rachelle and Shannon agreed that the resemblance was uncanny, they thought nothing more of it. It was pure coincidence that Rachelle’s coworkers were Shannon’s childhood friends who happened to spot a similarity. It was an exciting “aha” moment. Nothing more.

For eight years, Rachelle moved on with her life. She remarried and had a son. She remained in education and visited Washington for holidays. In time, however, Rachelle would understand that this was more than just a chance meeting.

That’s When Genetic Testing Came In

Rachelle Dyer at the beach with her husband
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer

In 2017, genetic testing became more accessible than ever. Many of the residents in Virginia Beach were trying it out to learn about their heritage. When he learned about the tests at work, Rachelle’s husband came to her with an idea. He said that she should try it since Rachelle and her twin were adopted.

Rachelle had always wondered about her ancestry since she received little information about her birth mom. She decided to go through with the test.

At First, The Results Didn’t Seem Groundbreaking

Kristelle with her twin sister Rachelle
Facebook/Kristelle R. Harrington
Facebook/Kristelle R. Harrington

In March 2018, Rachelle’s genetic test results arrived. Rachelle sifted through her ancestry and found her results fascinating. Of course, she shared her findings with her twin, Kristelle. However, Rachelle didn’t comb through the results as thoroughly as she could have.

Rachelle thought that her genetic tests were a fun way to learn more about herself. In the next couple of months, Rachelle would end up returning to her tests and learning something extraordinary about herself.

Her Second Look Lead Her To A Clue

Rachelle Dyer and her husband
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer

A while after Rachelle received her test results, the discussion of genetics swirled around her workplace. The teachers were working with students on an ancestry and genealogy project. Everyone was discovering new things about themselves and genetic biology.

While discussing the projects, the principal recommended that Rachelle should look more closely at her results. Most genetics sites compare your results to other peoples’ and will list any similarities online. When Rachelle revisited her test, she uncovered a link that she never anticipated.

Rachelle Found Another Family Member

Tracey Hall, Rachelle's cousin who told her about her siblings
Facebook/Tracey Hall
Facebook/Tracey Hall

As expected, Rachelle’s ancestry website compared others’ DNA to the DNA that she submitted. Once the site finds a connection, it predicts how closely related the two people will be. Rachelle did locate a match–with a woman named Tracey Hall.

According to the tests, Tracey Hall was Rachelle’s first cousin. When Rachelle contacted her, Tracey wasn’t too surprised. She had an enormous family secret that would explain Rachelle’s origins to the rest of the family.

Here Is Tracey’s Secret

Rachelle and Kristelle's biological mom, Janice Holley
Facebook/Jan Ainsley
Facebook/Jan Ainsley

Tracey’s aunt, Janice, struggled in her past. Originally, Janice lived in Washington state. In the 1960s, she moved with her husband, Dean Holley, to Virginia Beach. The pair had two daughters, who are Tracey’s cousins.

However, while Janice lived on the West Coast, she gave birth to two twin girls. As she hadn’t been married yet, Janice didn’t tell anyone about the twin babies. She couldn’t provide for the babies, so she put them up for adoption.

How Did Tracey Know This?

The twins' biological aunt, Sue Hall, and biological mother, Janice Holley
Facebook/Susan Hall
Facebook/Susan Hall

Janice Holley had died about a year before Tracey and Rachelle met. Before she passed away, Janice passed on the secret to one family member: her sister and Tracey’s mom, Sue.

“I figured, if I died someone had to know about this,” Sue later said. “Janny was determined to do the best thing for the twins, and we always wondered about them.” Sue eventually decided to share her secret with one person. This was her daughter, Tracey Hall.

The Threads All Connect

The four sisters - Kristelle, Lisa, Rachelle, and Shannon - together
Facebook/Shannon Holley Nicoll
Facebook/Shannon Holley Nicoll

To summarize, here’s what Rachelle learned during her meeting with Tracey. She and Tracey Hall were cousins. Tracey’s aunt, Janice Holley, was her biological mother. And Rachelle had two more biological sisters that she’s never met.

At age 53, Rachelle Dyer finally understood how many siblings she had. But how could she possibly reach out to her two biological half-sisters? As Tracey revealed, her sisters lived much closer than Rachelle anticipated.

Rachelle’s “Doppelganger” Wasn’t A Coincidence

Shannon Nicoll was actually Rachelle Dyer's half-sister
Facebook/Shannon Holley Nicoll
Facebook/Shannon Holley Nicoll

Remember Shannon Nicoll, whom Rachelle had met back in 2009? One decade after they met, Tracey informed Rachelle that the two were related. Not only did they meet earlier and share the same friends, but the two both lived in the same town.

And better yet: Shannon Nicoll has an older sister who also lives in Virginia Beach, named Lisa Holley Vann. The two grew up on the East Coast, never knowing that they shared twin sisters 3,000 miles away.

With That, The Sisters Connected

Rachelle reuniting with her half-sisters, Shannon and Lisa
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer

With Tracey’s help, Rachelle connected to Shannon and Lisa on social media. None of the women could believe how close they lived together. If Rachelle had moved anywhere else other than Virginia Beach, this meetup would never have happened.

The three women planned to see each other at a local Virginia Beach restaurant. But they were still missing the fourth sister. Due to chance, Rachelle couldn’t tell her twin sister, Kristelle, about the reunion immediately.

What Happened To The Fourth Sister?

Kristelle Harrington, Rachelle's twin sister
Facebook/Kristelle R. Harrington
Facebook/Kristelle R. Harrington

While all of this was happening, Kristelle was on vacation in Australia for New Years’ Eve. While there, she had to visit the emergency room for appendicitis. Kristelle underwent emergency surgery, and when she recovered, she cut her trip short.

The twin came home to a flurry of messages that shattered everything she thought about her life. She no longer had one sister in Virginia; she had three.

Three Sisters, Reunited

from left to right - Lisa, Rachelle, and Shannon
Facebook/Lisa Holley Vann
Facebook/Lisa Holley Vann

As Kristelle recovered, the three sisters in Virginia Beach scheduled to meet. They all gathered a local restaurant on February 9th, 2019, wondering how to act around a sibling they’ve spent their entire lives not knowing. Members of their families tagged along to witness the occasion.

Their first reunion went astonishingly well. “When we got together, it was like we had been together forever,” Lisa later said. Shannon called their discovery “the biggest gift you can imagine.”

Four Sisters, Finally Together

All four sisters reunined after 50 years
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer

One week after the first reunion, Kristelle flew out to Virginia to meet her half-sisters. “Me and Rachelle had a wonderful childhood and upbringing,” she said, “but we always wondered what our sisters would be like.” Now, they finally knew.

The sisters’ families were shocked at how similar they were. Shannon’s children covered their mouths when the women laughed, because they couldn’t believe how similar they sounded. “I mean, we were finishing each other’s sentences,” Shannon said.

Rachelle And Kristelle Would Never Meet Their Birth Mom

Shannon and Lisa with their mom, Janice Holley, who died before she met Rachelle and Kristelle
Facebook/Lisa Holley Vann
Facebook/Lisa Holley Vann

“I feel like I was a year-and-a-half too late,” Rachelle told Good Morning America, “because that’s when our birth mom passed away.” The twins had a bittersweet moment of realizing that they would never get to meet their biological mother. But they heard about her from other family members.

Aunt Sue revealed that their mom, Janice, wished the best for the twins. She ensured that they stayed together and grew up in a Catholic environment. “I think Janny would have been happy about [this],” Sue said.

Did Their Mother Bring Them Together?

The four sisters reunited on Good Morning America
Youtube/Good Morning America
Youtube/Good Morning America

On Good Morning America, Rachelle said that all four sisters believe their mom had a hand in bringing them together. “We all really needed it,” she clarified. “I’ve never had my own family in Virginia Beach. And Lis and Shannon don’t have the mom they grew up with anymore.”

The sisters’ life journeys lined up perfectly. Out of all the cities Shannon could have moved to, why Virginia Beach, where her half-sisters lived? How did she pick the genetic testing company that her cousin was in?

Their Coincidences Were Uncanny

The four sisters taking a photo together before going on Good Morning America
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer

The more they reminisced, the more the sisters realized how many facts lined up. Rachelle happened to work at the same school Shannon did and met her ten years earlier. When Rachelle got remarried, both Shannon and Lisa commented on her wedding photos on Facebook. This happened before any of them knew they were sisters.

When the sisters met, they realized that they all had similar careers, a bubbly personality, and loved fashion. “All this is mind boggling,” Rachelle said, “but it’s so very wonderful.”

From Now On, They Have A New Family

From left to right - Kristelle, Lisa, Rachelle, and Shannon on vacation
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer
Facebook/Rachelle Dyer

Rachelle, Kristelle, Shannon, and Lisa have all vowed to keep in touch constantly. Although they regret that their birth mom wasn’t around to witness the reunion, they still value their discovery. Janice had been the glue that held the family together; but now, the sisters had a new glue.

The twins plan to organize celebrations and vacations with their new family. “Who knows?” Kristelle said, “maybe we can all get together on The Ellen Show. Wouldn’t that be something?”