His DNA solved a century-old jailhouse rape. The victim: His Grandmother

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Commercial DNA tests showed that Hiram and Bruce were related. But their link proved to be much deeper — and darker — than either could have imagined.

As a black teenager in Compton, California, in the 1970s, Hiram Johnson began to wonder about his father’s fine curly hair, and the light-brown skin that strangers sometimes thought was white.

Hiram knew only a few things about his father’s childhood. Fred Johnson was raised in Jackson, Mississippi, by his mother, Bernice. Fred said that Bernice was a “beautiful black woman,” but he never said a word about his father. All Hiram knew was that his grandfather probably wasn’t black.

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In the 23 and Me era, kids of sperm donors are finding each other

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Imaging discovering you have a half-sibling you’ve never met—or dozens of them. Customers of genetic-information services are uncovering family secrets, and then using social networks to make connections..

When you use 23andMe’s DNA Relatives feature, you get a message cautioning you that the information you’re about to see could be unexpected. For Danny-J Johnson, that couldn’t have been more of an understatement.

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Decoding your baby’s DNA: It can be done. But should it be?

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Maverick Coltrin was diagnosed with pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy shortly after he was born. He now gets checkups to make sure his seizures are under control and that he’s still healthy. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Maverick Coltrin entered the world a seemingly healthy 8-pound boy. But within a week, he was having seizures that doctors could neither explain nor control. They warned that he would probably die within a few months.

“I remember my world just came crashing down,” said his mother, Kara Coltrin, 24.

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