30. Robert Shafran
1980 was a big year for Robert Shafran, as it was his first year starting college–his nerves were high and he was filled with excitement. But when he stepped foot onto the New Jersey campus he realized making friends was going to be a lot easier than he thought. Guys were coming up to him and patting him on the back, girls were greeting him with kisses as if they already knew him.
The only thing was, they insisted on calling him “Eddy”. What he was about to realize would change his life forever.
29. Dorm Room Confusion
As he found his assigned living quarters he was greeted by Michael Domitz, his new roommate. With shock in his eyes, Michael asked him what his name was and if he had a brother. When Robert told him no, Michael’s next question was, “Are you adopted?!” and “What is your birthday?!” When Robert informed him that he was in fact adopted and he shared the same birthday as his previous roommate Eddy Galland, light bulbs went off in Michael’s head.
He screamed, “You have a twin! His name is Eddy!” Robert was in shock; he couldn’t believe his ears.
28. Calling Eddy
Of course, the next thing the new friends had to do was to call Eddy and inform him of his newfound twin. Michael could barely catch his breath to get words out when Eddy answered the phone and before they knew it they were headed to Eddy’s house to confirm this bizarre situation. Speeding along the highway, the boys couldn’t contain their excitement, so much so, that they were pulled over and ticketed on the way.
So many questions were buzzing around in Roberts’ head, “How could this happen? How did I not know I had a twin?” These questions would get answered, but the reality would become too much for some to handle.
27. The Meetup
Before the two could even reach Eddy’s door, it opened and the two locked eyes. Michael recounts the meeting, looking at the two men who had, “the same grin, the same hair, the same expressions — it was his double.” As they began to chat, they realized they had the same interests ranging from wrestling, music, even women. They had the same birthmarks and matching IQ scores of 148–geniuses by any standard.
They were in shock and awe, they couldn’t believe what was happening to them. They had just discovered a long lost best friend. Soon, this thrilling mystery was about to get a whole lot crazier.
26. Newspapers & TV
All parents involved were just as shocked as the boys, considering they were never informed about a twin. Both sets of parents were adamant that if they knew they would have adopted both boys so they wouldn’t have had to spend even a day apart. But the joy of the discovery took over any ill feelings about the situation, for a while, anyway.
As news spread about their reunion newspapers and TV stations were calling, hoping for a chance to interview the brothers. Soon they received a call that would change the entire situation forever.
25. David Kellman
When fellow college student David Kellman saw their picture in a local newspaper, he realized something amazing. He was staring at himself, times two. Looking up the phone number of the Galland family, David called them immediately. The family had been receiving a lot of calls lately so when they answered they were a bit skeptical. But when David expressed the reason he was calling, Eddy’s mom dropped the phone.
24. A Third
David expressed he thought he was the third addition to this extraordinary duo. When the three met for the first time, the joy they had originally felt multiplied. They couldn’t believe there was a third brother, all of them identical in looks and body language. Again, David’s interested matched Robert’s and Eddy’s, there was no doubt in their minds they were triplets.
They began to appear on even more TV shows, holding interviews for shocked crowds that wanted to see them in action.
23. Moving in
CNN films created a documentary about the amazing story and when interviewed and asked about the reunion, Robert said, “The initial meeting was just complete surrealism, but then once we got together there was a joy that I had never experienced in my life, and it lasted a really long time.”
The three moved in together and started partying like no other, trying to catch up on all the time they had lost together when they were separated.
22. A Little Fame
The triplets became so well-known that even Madonna took note. She got them a cameo in her 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan. These genius-level boys were smart enough to use this newfound fame to start a life for themselves. Working as waiters during college, the boys realized starting their own restaurant was something they knew they could thrive at.
21. The Triplets
They decided to open up their own restaurant fittingly called, The Triplets in New York City. In the next couple of years, the boys turned into men and all met great women, got married, and started families. They spent all day together, as well as putting on family gatherings whenever they could. They knew family time was the most important thing to them. Life was good, for a while anyway.
20. Curiosity Grew
Curiosity grew among the triplets as to where they came from, who their birth parents were, and why they were separated. They eventually tracked down their birth mother and after a while communicating, she agreed to meet with them.
19. Meeting Their Mom
It wasn’t a joyful reunion, but it wasn’t one filled with sorrow, either. She was a young woman when she got pregnant by a man she barely knew. She decided to give the triplets up for adoption as she wasn’t ready to become a mother. She had clearly suffered from a life abused by alcohol, and the men weren’t interested in furthering a relationship after the initial meeting. After all, they all already had loving parents.
Their birth mother didn’t know that they were going to be separated and she couldn’t shed light as to why they were. But David knew he wanted more answers, so he initiated an investigation.
18. The Investigation
All of the adoptive parents involved went back to Louise Wise Services, the adoption agency that adopted the boys out. The agency met with the families but gave little to no information as to why they would ever separate the triplets. They said that it was harder to adopt three babies than it was to find them homes individually. Leaving unfulfilled, the parents felt there was more to the story than they were being told–and there was.
17. A Fateful Moment
When one of the parents forgot an umbrella inside the agency and went back to get it, they walked in on a surprising scene. The people they had just had a meeting with were celebrating with a bottle of champagne as if they had just dodged a bullet. But what were they celebrating? It was a question that would haunt everyone involved.
16. Developmental Study
All of the families involved knew their children were apart of a developmental study, but they were informed that psychologists were studying the effects of adoption only. What they didn’t know was, in reality, they were studying the effects of nature vs. nurture. They were doing so by separating twins and triplets to see what was a stronger force, nature or nurture.
In other words, they intentionally separated the boys to study them like lab rats, with little regard for the emotional and psychological damage the separation would cause.
15. Peter Neubauer
The social experiment was led by Dr. Peter Neubauer, a psychiatrist in New York. He didn’t choose the families at random, either. All families and eerie similarities like all having a daughter the age of two at the time of adoption. They all had different levels of wealth, a purposeful decision to gain further information on the nature vs. nurture theory.
14. Social Classes
Robert was adopted into a wealthy family, his father a doctor, his mother a lawyer. They lived in the posh town of Scarsdale, in Westchester County. Eddy grew up in a middle-class home, while David grew up in Queens with a working-class family. The experiment was kept a secret from the families and the general public because he knew many would object citing its cruel and unusual circumstances.
Every couple of weeks scientists would come into the homes of the unsuspecting families to film and document the progress of each child individually. All the boys remember these strange meetings, being asked various questions and watched closely as they played with specific toys. Like lab rats, the boys were monitored for years until scientists gathered enough information to conclude their findings.
What they failed to realize was the deep psychological impact the experiment would have on so many people, not just the triplets.
12. Early Signs
Claire Kellman, David’s adoptive mother, noticed something was different about her little boy from an early age but didn’t have the necessary information to put two and two together, “David began talking very early. I remember him waking up and saying, ‘I have a brother.’ “We would all talk about his ‘imaginary brother’.” Only after all the situation was revealed did they know what was going on, “It later emerged all the boys exhibited symptoms of separation anxiety during infancy, but that only made sense in hindsight,” she said during an interview in the documentary.
11. More Children
What’s even more haunting about this case is that this set of triplets weren’t the only ones affected by this heinous experiment. There are at least four, perhaps dozens of other groups of children who were separated, many of which still don’t know they have siblings out there. So why wasn’t this information released?
10. Never Published
When the Triplets story came to life, the backlash was immense. The obvious anger toward the scientists and adoption agency was obvious, so they decided not to publish the findings. The controversial findings are sealed at Yale University until 2066, leaving much confusion and mystery surrounding the results. The records hold vital information about other twins and triplets who may still not know they have family out there.
Unfortunately, for many of these victims, their story only got worse from here.
9. Doctor Nancy Segal
According to Nancy Segal, doctor and author of the book Accidental Brothers, the eye-opening account of the boys’ story, expressed that “The Louise Wise agency dealt with these single women, mostly Jewish, who were pregnant,” informing them that separation was best so that the babies wouldn’t have to compete for attention, leaving them little to no choice in the matter. She also met with Doctor Neubauer before he died, “What struck me most was he showed absolutely no remorse for what he had done. He still felt he had done the right thing.”
What’s shocking is Dr. Neubauer’s study has been compared to the Nazi twin studies, as many similarities have been noted. What’s even more shocking, is that Neubauer, a Jewish man himself, escaped Austria when it was under Nazi rule, only to come to the United States and continue the unethical experiments against twins.
7. Seeking an Apology
The experiment had a drastically negative effect on the brothers, and all of them coped differently. Eventually, they decided to close the restaurant and go their separate ways in regards to careers. They have been pursuing an apology from the adoption agency and compensation for all the harm done against them, a battle they are still actively working towards.
But for one brother, the truth was too much to handle.
At the tender age of 33, Eddy ended his life, killing himself in his home after years of crippling depression. Depression brought on by the horrid truth of what happened to him and his brothers. He wasn’t the only one to end his life, either.
5. A Pattern
Although the names of the other twins aren’t publically known, it is noted that at least three of them also committed suicide. This is a clear indication that separating babies born together has a drastic and damaging effect on the psyche. Nothing will bring these people back, and for Robert and David, nothing will ease the idea that Eddy’s suicide could have been prevented.
4. Word From the Agency
The adoption agency still hasn’t issued an apology to the brothers, but the Jewish Board, who many believe was aware of the circumstances, made a public statement regarding the documentary Identical Strangers, “The Jewish Board does not endorse the study undertaken by Dr. Peter Neubauer, and is appreciative that the film has created an opportunity for a public discourse about it,” a spokesperson said. “We hope that the film encourages others to come forward and request access to their records. The Jewish Board had no role in the separation of twins adopted through Louise Wise.”
3. Segal’s Findings
Although the results were never published, Doctor Segal came to her own conclusions about the study, citing that, “Neubauer’s study found that genes have a more pervasive influence than we thought”as most of the separated twins involved in the unethical experiment “ended up being extremely alike”–even in death.
2. Victims, not Participants
The brothers are now 56 and still fighting for justice in this case. Although they can’t get back the 20 years stolen from them, they deserve, at the very least, recognition and respect, “They refer to us as participants” he said, “We weren’t participants. We were victims.”
1. Identical Strangers
To get more information about this case, and to get to know the brothers more in-depth, watch the documentary Identical Strangers via Amazon Prime, Google Play, or Youtube.