AKRON, Ohio - Veteran Akron Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer said his conversations with a Doylestown woman led to the "most bizarre story he has worked on in 28 years."
Valerie Spruill, 60, contacted Dyer with a desire to spill her family secret.
They chatted on the phone several times and Spruill eventually agreed to meet with Dyer in a newspaper conference room. Dyer didn't know exactly what to expect, but it certainly wasn't the jaw-dropping, stranger-than-fiction story she revealed.
"When she first said she found out she had married her father, I about fell out of my chair," Dyer said.
Spruill explained she had no idea her husband, Perry Spruill, was also her dad until he died in 1998 and a relative came to her with the truth, which she confirmed through a DNA test.
Dyer said Spruill also has three kids, meaning their father is also their grandfather.
The Akron Beacon Journal first published the story on Sept. 8, but it has just recently gone viral. Dyer said it was even picked up by a Brazilian publication and British tabloids.
The columnist said Spruill, a retired Goodyear employee, wasn't looking for world-wide attention. Rather, she hoped her story would help others.
"I think her reason for coming forward was that she sees so many kids who are in bad situations, have single-parent households, and the single parent is not much interested in them. They'll be doing their thing. And, I think she wanted to send the message if I can get through this and have a productive life, which she did, then you can get through your situation too," Dyer said.
Dyer's story pointed out the stress of discovering the secret may have contributed to health problems for the Wayne County woman, but she has proven to be a very strong woman.
"She immediately started to get counseling, which she said has been very valuable. I think it helped her understand that she didn't do anything wrong," Dyer said.