When natural hair icon Titi Branch, co-founder of the wildly successful hair-care line Miss Jessie’s, committed suicide in December 2014, shocked supporters were left devastated.
But no one felt the pain as much as her sister, best friend and business partner Miko Branch, who is now claiming that Titi’s boyfriend Anthony Spadafora drove her to hang herself, reports the New York Post.
The 45-year-old Branch was discovered in her apartment on December 4, three weeks before Christmas. Miko claims that Spadafora took advantage of Titi’s “disabling” depression to isolate her from her family, milk her out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and force her to name him as the beneficiary of her $2 million life-insurance policy.
Spadafora, 43, who met Titi on Match.com in 2012, says the accusations are “ridiculous.” Calling Miko the “bully of Brooklyn,” he claims that she had been the beneficiary of Titi’s multi-million dollar policy but a bitter falling out caused Titi to transfer it to him.
“It was a real love . . . I was dedicated to her; she was dedicated to me,” Spadafora claims of his “Lady Liberty,” his nickname for Titi.
Miko Branch paints a much different picture.
“My sister’s death has been a devastating blow,” she told The Post. “It was only after Titi’s death that we learned more about what she’d been going through and how her affairs were being managed.”
Spadafora “wielded exceptional control over [her] while fully aware that her mental health was severely compromised,” the sister claims, referring to Titi’s “disabling” depression.
In just two years Spadafora, 43, managed to “extract” hundreds of thousands of dollars from Titi to launch his own beard-care business, Maestro’s Classics; $420,000 to buy and renovate a Pennsylvania house; and a $135,000 interest-free loan.
“In exchange, [she] received nothing,” Miko charged.
See Miko’s video tribute to Titi below:
Spadafora said that Titi’s inability to have a baby, even after multiple rounds of in-vitro fertilization, caused her sink into a bottomlesss pit of depression.
“My love failed. I thought it was good enough if there wasn’t a baby,” he said tearfully.
Though Spadafora claims that he wants to make peace with the family to avoid having a “war,” it may be too late for that.
Branch’s suicide last year once again brought the topic of Black women’s mental health to the forefront. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), depression is the second-leading cause of suicide, yet only 12 percent of Black women seek treatment or support.
If you or someone you know is depressed, please contact:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline