This is a tragic, sad story of Melody Megginson, a young mom who was shot in the head by her partner. She is now picking up the pieces by living life as normally as she can with her two kids and a bullet still lodged in her head.
Everything started with a casual chat
Melody’s ordeal started with just a casual talk with his ex-boyfriend, John Nealy III. She met her when she was walking down the street, and he asked her for directions. She got pregnant a month and a half after they met. She moved in with him a few days after their baby was born.
“Looking back, I realized we didn’t really know each other,” she told Inside Edition. “We just kind of went too fast in the relationship.” She noticed that he became controlling when they lived together.
“He started acting differently, wanting to know where I’m at, who I’m with, what I wear and stuff like that. I realized the relationship wasn’t going to work out,” Melody said. “It wasn’t what I thought it was, and I was trying to make moves to move on to leave the situation. I think he figured that out.”
Then, John started to become violent. He beat her, and this young woman told her mom, Katrina Aalmo about what happened.
“She just wanted to leave. He busted her lip and all that prior to the shooting. And I said, ‘Melody, call the cops on him.’ She just goes, ‘Well, I’m scared,’” her mom said. “She doesn’t know anybody out there, and believe me, I wish I would’ve called the cops and I regret that, but she asked me to try to stay out of it.”
John was out on bond for capital murder when he met Melody. He was released from jail with electronic monitoring. She knew that he was released, but she said that he lied to her about the crime he committed. His electronic monitoring was removed because he had no violations and he needed to take care of his father following surgery, the authorities said.
The unforgettable night in Melody’s life
Then, her nightmare began when John came home in the middle of the night drunk. He kept on calling Melody prior to this asking her to come home at 9 PM. When Melody got home, he was nowhere to be found. When he arrived, he punched her, pointed a gun to her side, and asked her to get inside his truck. She had just given birth to her baby when this happened. Her baby was just six weeks old at that time.
She sat on the passenger’s seat and she said, “And it just went blank.” He drove down the street, shot her in the head, and left her bleeding at his father’s driveway.
Birmingham police received a call about an unidentified woman on John Nealy Jr.’s driveway. She was transported to UAB Hospital for immediate medical treatment.
After a few days, the officers were able to identify who Melody was. They found a piece of paper with her name inside the glove compartment of her partner’s truck. They got in touch with her mom, Katrina Aalmo, and they found out from her that she has two kids.
“I didn’t know that she was shot for like four days,” Katrina said. “I got the number to the police department. They gave me, Detective Howard is his name. I spoke with him and he told me that he didn’t know for sure whether my daughter was going to make it or not. And I said, ‘Well, where’s her kids?’ And he goes, ‘What do you mean?’ she said, ‘She has two kids.’ And she said, ‘She just had a baby. Where are my grandkids?’”
Katrina told the officers that it was John who shot her daughter. She told them that he became violent with her weeks before this happened.
The police officers got in touch with John and asked him to turn in the kids. Katrina said that a few days after, the kids were left in a fire department. Unfortunately, since there were no surveillance cameras, no one knew who dropped the kids off.
Melody’s long recovery journey
There was a slim chance for Melody’s survival. The bullet came from a Glock .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. She was shot at close range and it had no exit wound, making it very difficult for the doctors to remove it. She suffered from traumatic brain injury (TBI). The majority of the patients who suffered from this condition do not survive.
“Chances of survival after a penetrating injury to the brain, such as a gunshot wound, is very low,” Dr. Komal Ashraf, a neurologist, told Inside Edition. “And of those patients [who live], we know that about 50% will have long-term neurologic consequences.”
After two months in a coma, Melody finally woke up. “I asked her if she could see me and I said, ‘If you can, try to move your hand or your thumb,’” Melody’s mom said. “She moved her thumb, so I knew that she could hear me and see me. I cried. I just sat there and cried and held her, but she couldn’t speak. And she doesn’t know what’s really going on.”
Melody initially thought of calling John. She was shocked when she found out that it was he who caused this damage. She could not speak for two months and they were using hand signals to talk to her.
“I was kind of in a daze. I had tubes out my neck. My arms were tied down to the bed,” Melody said. “For a couple [of] months, I didn’t want to believe that a person I loved did that to me. I just had his child.”
She underwent 13 surgeries and things changed drastically. “My face on the right side is paralyzed,” she said. “I’m deaf in [my right] ear, and I have a plate in my head on the right side. I have a gold weight in my eyelids, so I can close my eye all the way when I sleep. I have a VP shunt that drains my brain fluid, that keeps me alive. I have to keep that for the rest of my life. I had to relearn how to talk, to speak.”
Time to regain what was lost
It was not a walk in the park to recover from the gunshot, but Melody faced another challenge while recovering. She had to fight for her kids’ custody.
She took parenting and domestic violence classes, had to take drug tests, and also need to attend her classes in a walker and had surgeries in between.
Finally, after two years, Melody was reunited with her two sons. But, there were things that she could no longer bring back. “My oldest boy was afraid of me when I first was shot. Then my youngest boy didn’t know who I was and it broke my heart,” Melody said. “I felt a lot was stolen from me. I didn’t get to see his first foods, first crawl, first rollover, first walk, first birthday, because he was just six weeks old when I was shot, and that’s stuff I can’t get back.”
The TBI also left her with lasting injuries. She gets angry easily, has night terrors, and seizures as well. “I’m learning coping mechanisms and trying to relearn how to do a lot,” Melody said.
John was sentenced to 25 years in prison for first-degree assault for shooting Melody. On top of that, he was also sentenced to 20 years in prison for his manslaughter case. He pleaded guilty to both crimes.
Melody felt that the punishment for John was an insult. She said that if John was not out on a bail for the capital charge of murder she would have not been shot.
“It made me feel like they don’t care about poor young, black women, to be honest with you,” she said. “I felt like if I was somebody else [who Nealy III shot], that it would’ve got more attention, [he] would’ve got more time.”
Life goes on
Melody tries to pick up the pieces and move on from what happened. She shares what happened to her to warn women that abuse comes in many forms. “He wasn’t beating me up every day, There’s mental, emotional, and physical abuse. And just because it’s not physical does not mean it’s not abuse and people need to pay attention to that, because I made the mistake of not [doing so],” she said.
This fighter knew that she survived for a reason. She knew that she has a purpose after experiencing these trials. “Doctors tell me that I should not have survived. Period. I got a 45 [bullet] in my brain and I am walking around living, but I got all my functions,” she said. “I could be worse. I’m definitely blessed, a miracle.”
It was indeed a miracle! Only God can pull off such an amazing feat. He is a God who gives chances for everyone, to be better, to use our lives to honor Him and live out the purpose He has for each person.