BEFORE THE END: Jonathan R. Meadows holds the youngest of his three children with his widow Brandi Meadows, Bresha (right) and his son Jonathan R. Meadows Jr. in this photo during the earlier years. The elder Jonathan was shot and killed on July 28, 2016 in Warren, Ohio by his youngest daughter Bresha, a 14-year old who is now facing murder charges. (Family Photo)
Lena Cooper, 51, of Columbia, Tennessee vividly remembers the day she received the tragic news that her 14-year-old niece had shot and killed her brother on July 28, 2016 in Warren, Ohio.
“One shot! Point blank,” she told the Call & Post during an exclusive interview to describe her version of this twisted homicide that took the life of a husband, father and brother and landed a teenage child in jail on murder charges.
On that fatal day Bresha Meadows picked up her father's .45-caliber, semi-automatic handgun and pointed it at him in the early morning hours of July 28, firing one round into Jonathan Meadows’ head.
All police reports and family interviews are in agreement that Jonathan was asleep in his living room when his daughter pulled the trigger.
However what many are not in agreement about is why his daughter would end his life in the same home he raised his children in such a cold-blooded fashion.
According to Cooper the narrative for the crime dramatically changed after Bresha was arrested and charged with the murder of her father.
“All of theses allegations of domestic abuse did not come up until after my niece was arrested and they found out that she would not get released,” Cooper explained.
Cooper further indicated that her sister-in law Brandi Meadows said, ”she was going to have to do whatever she could to get her daughter out because she did not want her to get life (in prison).”
Cooper described a loving relationship with her brother and produced photos of Jonathan with their mother, his children and other family members. She also revealed a Facebook post of his daughter Briana following his death.
Posted on July 29, on what would have been Jonathan and Brandi’s 23rd wedding anniversary, their 19- year old daughter Briana wrote: “When my daddy was trying to take a picture on his phone and didn’t know what he was doing. These are the memories I’m a keep. I can’t believe he’s gone. He’s not gonna be here for a lot of things in none of our lives. He’s not gonna be here to see his first grandchild. To see his daughters and son get married. I really can’t believe it. My heart is aching. I love you dad and miss you. Please watch over us. Now you up there with Grann Grann, grandpa and our relatives. R.I.P to my dad. 07-28-16”
The hard facts are that only the people residing in the house with Jonathan and his family know for sure what the circumstances were during the 22 years of his marriage, but his sister categorically denied that he would ever abuse any of his children.
For 19 years he worked at product development for the Tribune Chronicle as a carrier. He attended John Marshall High School in Cleveland. He was one of seven siblings.
Jonathan was African American and his wife Brandi was Caucasian. Cooper alleges that Brandi’s family didn’t not approve of the union and accepted it some five years later.
Cooper recalled when told of her brother’s demise. “I was in total shock because when my sister in-law told that he had been shot and that my niece did it and that she didn’t know why she (his daughter) shot him.”
According to Cooper that is precisely when Brandi informed her that Bresha had been in a mental health facility and being treated for severe depression.
“She (Brandi) said she heard the gun go off and she thought that my niece had shot her sister and when she tried to get my brother to wake-up she found out that it was my brother who had been shot,” Cooper said.
She said she had a very good relationship with her brother and had just talked to him days before he was killed.
“I was coming to Cleveland because were planning a birthday party for Bresha and Jonathan because both of their birthday is in August, but I explained to him that I couldn’t make it so he asked me to mail him a cake because his anniversary was coming up,” added Cooper. That was the last conversation she had with her bother.
Cooper told the newspaper that Brandi signed over power of attorney for Jonathan and that it was Cooper and her siblings who paid for his funeral services, but during the day of the funeral that Brandi initially refused to allow his siblings to come.
“Brandi said that she didn’t have any money because her focus was about Bresha and her defense and any funds she had would be focused on that. I went along with everything and she would not allow for us to put it into the newspaper because she didn’t want everybody to know about it. I did everything that she wanted because I just wanted my brother to have a proper burial,” Cooper continued.
Cooper alleged that Brandi had informed her that Bresha accused her father of molesting her. “We know that kind of stuff was not happening, but I didn’t go along with Brandi’s idea of cremation of my brother because if that issue would ever come up I would want the DNA to be extracted from him.”
Cooper says that Brandi has established a Go Fund Me page that states the children had been physically and sexually abused.
“But my brother had been cleared of all of that. My brother had never even spanked the children. His discipline was taking their phones away or sending them to their room grounding them,” Cooper. She asserts that none of his children has ever been abused and that Brandi has since begun dating someone else within her own race.
“I find it odd that she is dating someone else and I also find it odd that the day of the murders Brandi and her sisters cleared out of the house of all the evidence, the couch that he was laying on,” elaborated Cooper.
Copper said that Brandi’s family disowned her for marrying Jonathan.
In the meantime Bresha Meadows is charged aggravated murder. She is in a Trumbull County juvenile detention facility where she will be charged as juvenile.
Brandi told local newspapers she endured years of daily mental and physical abuse.
"No matter what I did, I couldn't do anything right,'' Brandi Meadows told The Plain Dealer. She said her daughter grabbed the gun to end the abuse.
"I believe she was trying to help our whole family get out of the box that he put us in,'' Brandi Meadows said. "I believe that she saved all of us."
Ian Friedman, Bresha Meadows' attorney, said she had little choice.
"It was the only way that she could defend her family from the man who abused them. He was well over 200 pounds, and she was a 14-year-old girl,'' Friedman said.
He added the family is in shock and unsure what to do next.
"They are still trying to figure out how they ended up in this situation, with their daughter and sister sitting in a juvenile facility,'' Friedman said.
Cooper told The Plain Dealer that Jonathan was a good man who cared for his family. She admitted that he wasn't perfect and acknowledged that there had been abuse in the house, but it was years ago in 2011.
"This was not a family living in fear,'' Cooper said. "My brother is being crucified for something that happened years ago. There is no evidence of recent abuse. We talked with the authorities, and they said there was no signs of abuse.''
While Cooper is also saddened at the plight of her niece, she has vowed to defend her brother’s good name and character.