Joey Slaight came close to dying when his mother, a recovering methamphetamine addict and schizophrenic, shot him point-blank in the head on Jan. 2, 2015, before shooting his little brother and then herself just a day after she had been released from a psychiatric hospital.
Joey’s brother, 6-year-old Jaxon, was killed immediately. Their mother, Morgan Slaight, 27, succumbed to her wounds 11 days later.
But Joey, now 11, survived.
The boy who spent the last three years in two different hospitals and in a pediatric brain rehabilitation center, learning to walk, talk and even eat again, finally came home to Oklahoma on March 31.
Now he lives with his paternal aunt, Andra Munoz, her husband, Jason, and her four children: Max, 15, Brooks, 12 and 4-year-old twins Champ and Tripp.
In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Joey’s relatives and caregivers open up in-depth about his tireless recovery.
“From day one, we saw miracles,” says Munoz, Joey’s legal guardian, who updates his milestones on the Facebook page Joey Strong. “He kept getting better and better, and doctors were saying, ‘We just don’t understand why this is happening.’ ”
• For more on Joey’s life at home and his journey to recovery, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.
Despite the challenges Joey has overcome, no one knows how much he remembers about the horrors of that fateful morning in 2015. His doctors asked his family to avoid talking about the shooting and let Joey bring it up when he is ready.
Still, the trauma and monumental loss he suffered seem to be simmering in his subconscious: One of his first words was “gun,” as well as “almost died,” Munoz says.
Joey hasn’t yet mentioned Morgan or Jaxon by name during his waking hours, she says. But one night when her mother, …read more