14-Year-Old Girl Who Shot 'Abusive' Dad Says She Did It To Save Mom After Nobody Listened

Bresha Meadows
Fox 8

Bresha Meadows' lawyer, Ian Friedman, believes she is "a good person," and her mother has called her a "hero," but the now 18-year-old who was only 14 when she shot her allegedly abusive father told Fox 8 that it took years for anyone to listen to her story. Bresha, who is from Warren, Ohio, said she spoke out about the abuse and worried about her mother's safety, but the silence she received in turn is what caused her to take matters into her own hands.

  • The teen explained that the cycle of abuse started when she was very young and put everyone in her family at risk.

    Bresha described a pattern of drinking and abuse from her 41-year-old father and explained that she was used to the fighting, according to the Huffington Post. Although she and her siblings, Brianna, now 22, and Jonathan Jr., now 24, were all targets of Jonathan's abuse, he grew more violent after drinking and her mother, Brandi, was his favorite person to torment. "Most of the time he’d keep the bedroom door closed when he hit her, but if he was drunk, he’d forget and leave it open,” Bresha recalled.

    It was typical for the teen to come home and see her mother with a black eye, and the abuse didn't end at beatings. Bresha said that starting at the age of 8, her father began to molest her -- telling her to keep it a secret between the two of them.

    The sexual acts only got worse as she grew older. At 12, Jonathan allegedly raped her and she started to act out, looking for help from anyone who would notice. She ran away to her aunt's house, started committing self-harm, and began considering ending her own life. She even went to the police to report the abuse in her home, but nothing came of it. 

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  • Meanwhile, she says her father's violent outbursts were only getting worse. 

    Bresha decided to take matters into her own hands on July 28, 2016, and end her nightmare by shooting her father while he was sleeping. She told Fox 8 she was worried that it was either him or her family.

    "I was trying to help all of us. Me, my brother and sister, my mom, all of us. I really thought my mother was going to die," she said.

    She pulled his gun out from underneath his pillow, but added that she can't remember the details of what followed. All she could focus on was what would happen if something didn't change soon.

    "I pictured myself maybe ending up killing myself from depression. And my mom passing on and my brother and sister old enough to leave, and then it would just be me in the house and Lord knows how that would turn out," Bresha said. "It was a lot."

  • Bresha was arrested in connection with the death of her father and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in May 2017.

    People reports that the girl was sentenced to a year and a day as her prison sentence, which she served in juvenile detention. Shortly after her husband's death, Bresha's mother Brandi called her a "hero" for saving their family from further abuse. 

    But members of her father's family have denied the allegations of abuse. Jonathan's sister-in-law Jackie Meadows said he "was stern, but at the end of the day, he was a family man.”

    Bresha, who is now out of prison, spoke out Thursday about the family members who doubted her story.

    "That hurt me because they knew, people knew," the teen told Fox 8. "I really never thought I would go to jail after the shooting. I thought they would understand. It was self defense. Between watching my mom get abused and the sexual abuse, it just kind of you know, too much."

    “I believe that she saw this as the only opportunity she had and she thought, ‘I’m free,'" her aunt Martina Latessa told People at the time of her arrest.

  • Bresha is working to rebuild her life and said that she wants to help other victims of abuse.

    Since her release in 2018, Bresha has graduated from high school and is in counseling for her trauma. She told the Huffington Post that she and her mom now have matching tattoos of a semicolon with an arrow through it meant to symbolize that “the story is not over,” she explained.  A semicolon tattoo is often used by people to show that they've struggled with thoughts of suicide but decided not to end their life.

    “I just want to help people in the same situation," she told Fox 8. “And help myself while helping others.”

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