3 Years After Mom Shot Him Point-Blank in the Head, 11-Year-Old Boy Leaves Rehab: 'I Am Going Home'
Shot at point blank range in the face by his mother, Joey Slaight spent the last three years recovering from his wounds and is finally going home
On Jan. 2, 2015, Morgan Slaight shot her two young sons at point-blank range in Montfort, Wisconsin, before turning the gun on herself.
Slaight’s youngest, 6-year-old Jaxon, was killed quickly. Slaight, reportedly described as a recovering methamphetamine addict who had previously threatened suicide, succumbed to her injuries days later.
But her older boy, 8-year-old Joey, did not die — and more than three years later, he is leaving the treatment facilities where he has spent the last 38 months and and 29 days.
“This boy has fought, scraped, clawed and willed his way to recovery,” Joey’s aunt and guardian, Andra Munoz, wrote on Saturday on Joey Strong, the Facebook page she dedicated to chronicling his challenging health journey.
“After many prayers and miracles, Joey is here today as a walking blessing for all who know him,” Munoz wrote on the GoFundMe page she set up to help pay for the equipment and specialized furnishings he needs now that he is no longer at the full-time brain rehabilitation center where he has spent the last two years.
“He has fought every day to get better and we are so thankful for all of you that have helped us long the way.”
On Facebook, Munoz recalled how Joey said his goodbyes to the rehab facility’s staff, “who have become family.”
According to his aunt, “Joey smiled and simply said ‘I am going home, finally.’ ”
Long Road to Healing
When Joey first came into the emergency room at Madison’s University of Wisconsin Hospital, with a gunshot wound near his left eye, doctors were unsure he would survive, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Neurological experts at the hospital said they thought the boy’s severe brain injuries would prevent him from becoming a “functional person,” according to the paper.
Still, Joey survived and got stronger and stronger.
A year after the shooting, the State Journal reported, he was talking in sentences, doing puzzles, playing games, running and jumping — progress that thrilled his family and his supporters.
In February 2016, Joey was moved from Wisconsin to the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany, Oklahoma, so he could be closer to relatives as he recovered.
“He’s improving in all the areas we were concerned about in the beginning, like verbally, and physically, and his emotions, and his balance, all of that,” Munoz told local news station WMTV a year after the shooting. “So he’s setting all kinds of new records and the sky’s limit.”
Among those Joey touched with his optimism and resiliency are neurosurgeon Dr. Joshua Medow, who helped save his life by performing surgery when other doctors thought an operation would hurt his recovery, according to the State Journal.
Medow told the paper he was near tears when he learned that Joey, who was comatose at the time, had grabbed the hand of a nurse who was brushing his teeth.
“I don’t believe that physicians save lives. I believe that’s God’s work. But I think we all have the ability to make lives better,” Medow said in 2016.
Munoz is the sister of Joey’s dad, Tyler Slaight, who is a recovering addict and hopes to gain custody of his son one day, Meredith reports.
Thanking everyone “for loving [Joey] as he worked so hard on [his] recovery,” Munoz wrote Saturday on Facebook: “We are very blessed. Love to everyone in Wisconsin and to the doctors and nurses who made the choice to save his life that night and made this day a possibility.”