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From strangers to sisters, Las Vegas women find out they’re sisters after 48 years apart through Ancestry.com

A story beyond belief, two Las Vegas sisters lived in the valley for over 25 years without ever knowing the other existed.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 10:58 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A story beyond belief, two Las Vegas sisters lived in the valley for over 25 years without ever knowing the other existed.

Michele Dugan and Tricia Tilley had been living miles apart in the Las Vegas valley.

In 1970, Dugan was born and raised in Southern California. Her birth mother gave her and her brother up for adoption. She grew up in a loving home, but felt like there was something missing.

“I didn’t know any birth family my whole life I didn’t know who I looked like or you know who were my people. I love my family but I just always felt like there was someone else out there maybe and I didn’t know who that was,” Dugan said.

Tricia Tilley was born in 1970, she moved to Las Vegas in 1978 with her mother, father and two brothers.

“I grew up with my family I thought,” Tilley said.

In 1994, Dugan moved to Las Vegas. 25 years later while dropping her son off to college, she saw a commercial for Ancestry.com and thought- why not.

To her surprise an Ancestry DNA match connected her to a half brother in New Jersey.

“He goes you’re in Vegas? There’s three more of us out there and I’m like what?,” Dugan said.

Dugan found Tricia’s Facebook page and messaged her.

“The second or third question in she’s like – how old are you? And I said I’m 48 how old are you? 48. And I was like – how does that happen like how does that work? How?,” Dugan said.

They share the same father who passed away in 2004. In total, there are seven half siblings that live throughout the states.

“The ladies loved dad and dad loved the ladies he was definitely a player and he was so charismatic and good looking and you know just loved people,” Tilley said.

Tilley was shocked to receive Dugan’s Facebook message and called her mom. Tilley started to think back about when she was born. Her mother had family in Michigan and had Tilley there.

“I said was dad cheating on you? And she’s like – yeah. So I’m like well- hah. I have a sister!,” Tilley said.

The pair met for the first time for lunch in January 2019.

“I was so nervous I had no idea what to expect. And then she slides into the booth next to me and it’s like looking at a ghost because she looks exactly like our dad- the blue eyes, the same color hair, the same skin tone like it was crazy I’m like oh wow,” Tilley said.

The pair were so busy catching up they forgot to take a picture. During that first meeting they starting sharing how similar their lives were.

“We were both pregnant at the same time and then our kids went to the same high school- Coronado High School. My daughter Jessie and her son Justin, and they graduated in the same year and we were at the same graduation at UNLV,” Tilley said.

“And we both grabbed our phones and showed pictures and we have the same pictures of the stage just different angle of the place I mean it was so – so crazy,” Dugan said.

Each one of their families embraced the other sister.

Tilley’s mom welcomed Dugan with open arms.

“She kind of took my shoulders and she said – I just want you to know that I loved your dad- loved your dad. He was a really special person and we had a really special bond and any daughter of his is a daughter of mine. Which oh my gosh was so sweet because I was a littler nervous you know because I’m kind of the result of heartache for her I mean you know. It’s not my fault but I didn’t know what to expect,” Dugan said.

The pair think about all the times they must’ve passed each other at the grocery store or had been in the same carpool line picking up their kids from Coronado High School. Since meeting - they’re wasting no time.

“Our motto is we missed the first 48 years so we’re going to make the best of whatever we have left,” Dugan said.

They cook together, vacation together and work together. When the two met three and a half years ago Dugan was already years into her real estate career. Coincidentally Tilley was in real estate school.

“I’m like – ok you’re coming with me- I mean it was instant. I don’t have to think about – instant. You’re coming with me. So she got her license and we are now Sisters Selling Vegas,” Dugan said.

The two started their own real estate company Sisters Selling Vegas under Realty One Group.

“It’s amazing we get to work together – so much fun. We laugh until we pee our pants we have so much fun we crack up,” Dugan said.

“I now have a best friend and a sister and everything all wrapped into one,” Tilley said.