Family Twist Episode 18: Private Investigator Detects DNA Family History and Drama
Our guest this episode is Christine Burke, a retired detective sergeant and current private investigator. Christine also trains law enforcement on how to find “bad guys” and the deceased by using DNA technology. Christine’s personal family history exploded when she discovered her father wasn’t really her birth father and her maternal grandfather wasn’t either. Christine juggles personal drama and professional drama, all DNA-related, while discovering new family members “like a slot machine” every time she logs onto Ancestry.com – such as the three half-siblings her birth mother “gave away.”
Trauma and stress
Christine: I went through about five years of trauma and stress and “why me?” and just a miserable existence. And then one day the light bulb went off because I am a law enforcement trainer. And I said, ‘Law enforcement really needs to use this. And I’m the person that can bring it to them.’ In June 2021, I launched my first course and started reaching out. It’s been going gangbusters ever since.
My last name is Burke and mom told me about Burke, but Burke didn’t wanna be a part of my life. And I never knew him. And, and that was just the story. And so it was always just mom and I. And when I was real young, she told me that she had given other children away. It wasn’t anything she was gonna talk about. She felt guilty and all that. And I respected that, but at the same time I wanted more family. And in 2013 I took a 23 and Me test for some medical reasons. My maternal grandmother had breast cancer, and I wanted to know about that again.
I found out that my dad wasn’t my dad, my mother’s dad wasn’t her dad. I found three half siblings. I found that my mom’s father who my grandfather, not only did he cheat with my grandmother, but there’s two other half siblings to my mother. And I like to joke because that it seems like every time I go on Ancestry, it’s like a slot machine.
Passion for crime fighting with DNA
The crime fighting has never been far; it’s always been a passion of mine, whether I’ve been actively working or not. And the closest that I came to it after retiring was being a private investigator. And when I first found out with the DNA, I really struggled in trying to get answers.
Who was I and where do I go? And I was coming up short and. When I finally figured it out, I’m, I’m telling you the light bulb went on. I always knew the DNA was accurate. There’s never been any doubt in my mind, but I will tell you one of the things when I realized that my father, right, I’m a (non-paternity event) NPE. So is my mom.
Training law enforcement to use DNA
I’m trying to be cost effective and get it to as many agencies as possible. There’s about 18,000 agencies in the United States. And my goal is to train at least one officer per agency. We work examples from my family, and we work their cases if they have. it’s still my gut. I feel like I get on a trail and then I work it and. That’s just the way the police work goes.
It’s kind of a double edge sword for me because I didn’t have a father in my life. And I can tell you when I realized I, I literally woke up in the middle of the night. I was in bed and I sat straight up and I said, ‘I have a dad, right. I have a dad that wants me.’ This is so exciting to be on the journey to find him. I’m this big, bad cop, right? I’m supposed to be this tough person that doesn’t have any emotions and I’m supposed to be able to solve anything. But at the same time I have this huge hole in me. That I try to explain to people that I don’t want to feel this way, and I have this incessant need to get all the information.
Reaching out to the mothers
I also wanna be an advocate to speak to these family members. You think about the moms, like my mom with the adoption, she felt it wasn’t narcissism. I don’t think that’s a fair thing, but she didn’t wanna feel guilty. She didn’t wanna revisit that. But at the same time, I believe as a parent, you have a responsibility to put the child first. And it really bothers me. I don’t like liars. Having been a cop, I don’t like liars to begin with.
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