DNA test shows woman declared man's heir isn't his daughter
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Patsy Morsell always believed herself to be the illegitimate daughter of Charles Dunbar Morsell, the offspring of a one-night stand between him and her mother.
So last year, 13 years after Charles died and his brothers and sisters still had not settled his estate, Patsy successfully moved to become his rightful heir and sold off most of the farm that had been in his family for almost a century.
Then she found out she was wrong.
On Tuesday, Calvert County Circuit Court Judge Marjorie L. Clagett unsealed DNA test results showing that Charles was not Patsy's father and, thus, that Patsy was not his heir.
The hearing lasted only minutes, and most of Charles's nieces and nephews, who had reluctantly agreed to have their uncle's body exhumed weeks earlier to obtain a DNA sample to disprove Patsy's claim, arrived too late to witness it.
"It may not have been the answer that one party wanted," Clagett said, "but at least there is now certainty in the results."
Patsy, 68, of Huntingtown, left the courtroom wide-eyed, passing Charles's relatives in the hallway. She said little after the hearing, except that she was not fazed by the results.
"Life goes on," she said. "It just means he's not my father."
Actually, it's a little more complicated than that.
Patsy said she'd had no relationship with Charles Morsell. She said that the nieces and nephews had cared for him and the farm in Sunderland before he died without a will in 1995 and that they took care of the property afterward.
In January, the court approved Patsy's sale of the Morsell family farm to John T. Crane Jr., the owner of a large neighboring farm. At the time, Patsy had been appointed as the personal representative of Charles's estate, and she arranged to sell the land before Charles's brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews objected, said her attorney, Richard Lloyd.
The money from the sale, about $180,000, went into an estate account, which will be transferred to Charles's living brother and sister and the children of his deceased siblings, minus expenses for the lawyers and the exhumation, Lloyd said.