I was thinking similar to above. I have had a not-quite-the-same experience in my life. A fairly close relative, several states away, did something terrible, and then died. We share a last name, and it's one of those last names that only close relatives have (i.e. if your name is XYZ, you are in our family, and we know you). Now, I did share this event with some friends, even some non-close ones, just to forstall the questions.
However, I was at a training event, and someone who I didn't know said "hey...XYZ... are you related to Bob XYZ?" I said "nope" and moved on. I didn't want to get into it at a big group training event.
So, I don't know if any of that made sense, but that may be were the wife was coming from. But different, of course.