JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The sister of a woman who was shot and killed by her husband, who then turned the gun on himself in early October, is speaking out Monday on her sister’s behalf.
On Oct. 12, Brenda Brannon, 53, and Barry Brannon, 53, were found shot to death in a home on Emerald Green Court, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. According to the evidence at the scene, Barry Brannon shot and killed Brenda Brannon before turning the gun on himself.
Brenda Brannon’s sister Melody Griffith said she had no idea her sister was being abused and said her sister’s death should serve as a reminder to other men and women to get help.
“I still can’t wrap my head around it which may be why I can’t grieve,” Griffith said.
Even during Brenda Brannon’s darkest days, Griffith said her sister never told her what her marriage to Barry Brannon was really like -- which is why what happened was such a shock.
“We were very close,” Griffith said. “And that’s what’s so funny. Why couldn’t she come to me and say hey, ‘This isn’t what it really is -- I need help’”?
Many Thanksgivings and Christmases were spent at the Brannon home on Emerald Green Court, and Griffith said while she knew her sister had filed for divorce, Barry Brannon always seemed like a nice guy, and she never suspected a thing.
“I was at work, and my niece called and he said, ‘Barry shot my mom and then he killed himself,’” Griffith said. “I went down.”
Griffith said she doesn’t believe Barry Brannon intended to shoot himself.
“He had not planned to take his own life,” Griffith said. “He packed enough food, clothes, and everything to be on the road for a month. So he planned to kill her and leave.”
When asked why he why Barry Brannon would turn the gun on himself, Griffith said, “I think it’s the first time he killed a human life, and that’s probably a weird thing for anybody.”
Griffith said her family is trying to stay strong in the wake of her sister’s death. She said Brenda Brannon had five children and several grandchildren, all of whom are devastated.
Griffith said her new mission is to share her sister’s story as much as possible and to possibly save another life by helping someone else in a dangerous situation.
"If woman and men would reach out to their families, they’re there for them," Griffith said. "And if she had reached out to me, she’d be alive today."
The Chief Executive Officer for the Hubbard House, Ellen Siler, said the two main reasons why people stay in abusive relationships is fear and embarrassment. Siler said they also often underestimate the danger they’re in.
"Unfortunately, most of the people that are killed by domestic violence in Northeast Florida -- they’ve never told police, they’ve never called the Hubbard House, they’ve never told their family or close friends,” Siler said. “It’s hard to believe that someone that is supposed to love you, would kill you. So they might not speak up, because they don’t think it’s going to go that far, but too often it does.”
Siler said a call to Hubbard House can be anonymous and they are bound to confidentiality. She said they can often help set the caller up with a safety plan – especially if they aren’t ready to leave the person they are with.
One tip Siler gave was if you experience an explosive incident, go to an area with an exit, avoid the kitchen, a bathroom, or anywhere else with sharp objects or hard surfaces.
You can also alert a neighbor to your situation and have signals to alert them to call the police when needed.
The Hubbard House and an abuse hotline are available for people in abusive situations. The abuse hotline number is 1-800-500-1119. Click here to learn more about the Hubbard House, including safety planning tips and checklists for those needing to leave their situation.