The Coleman family, featured in a 2016 Netflix documentary called Audrie & Daisy that told the stories of teenage rape victims, has suffered another tragic blow. Four months after Daisy Coleman took her own life, her mother, Melinda Coleman, has also died by suicide. She was 58.
The organization SafeBAE confirmed the news of Coleman’s death on social media. The group shared on Instagram late on December 6:
We are in shock and disbelief to share with our SafeBAE family, that we lost Melinda Coleman to suicide. The bottomless grief of losing her husband, Tristan, and Daisy was more than she could face most days.
Melinda was a gifted veterinarian, devoted mother and wife, and talented body builder. More than anything, she loved and believed in her children.
It is no accident that she created some of the most gifted, passionate, and resilient children. Our hearts are forever with Logan & Charlie.
If you or anyone you know is struggling, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The Coleman family has suffered unimaginable loss over the years. Melinda Coleman’s husband, Michael, died in a car crash in 2009. Her youngest son, Tristan, died in 2018, also from a car crash. He was 19.
In the years following Daisy Coleman’s attack, she and her family members were active in advocating on behalf of sexual assault victims.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Melinda Coleman Posted About Her Love for Her Daughter on Facebook Hours Before Her Death
Melinda Coleman shared heartbreaking posts about her lost family members on Facebook in the hours before her death. She posted several photos of Daisy ranging from when she was a young child until adulthood. Melinda wrote in one post:
There aren’t enough I love yous I could have said when I was holding your cold, broken , dead body. I held you like a baby anyway, my baby. The baby I held when you first came into this world. It has always been my greatest honor and joy to be your mother and best friend. Mama bear!
Melinda Coleman also posted a screenshot of typed words that read, “everybody I know will someday be dead. This I know in my heart and my head. This sometimes keeps me awake in bed. I think of all the love you’s I never said.”
Her posts included a letter that her late husband, Michael, wrote to Daisy when their daughter was about 9 years old. In the letter, he wrote about Daisy’s personality as a baby and how she was an excellent young student. Michael Coleman wrote that he had been “privileged to rock you to sleep every night.”
Melinda Coleman also posted about her youngest son, Tristan. She shared a handwritten letter, that was stained either by water or tears, with her son’s name in the caption of the Facebook post.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. As the organization explains on its website, “the Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.”
2. Daisy Coleman Said She Was Raped as a Teenager & Suffered Bullying in the Aftermath
Daisy Coleman detailed her story in the 2016 Netflix documentary about how she said she was raped as a teenager and then bullied in the aftermath. She claimed that in January 2012, she and a friend attended a party at classmate Matthew Barnett’s home in Maryville, Missouri. Daisy Coleman was 14 at the time.
As reported by the Associated Press, Daisy Coleman said she drank a “clear liquid” at the party before ending up in a bedroom. She told investigators that Barnett raped her while a second boy watched. Barnett claimed the sex had been consensual, according to the AP.
Daisy Coleman had passed out by the time she was dropped off outside her house. As Heavy previously reported, Melinda Coleman found her daughter the following morning on the porch in the freezing weather.
Barnett was initially charged with felony sexual assault but the charge was dropped two months later. The prosecutor claimed the Coleman family “wasn’t cooperating with the investigation” but as CNN reported, Melinda Coleman denied this was the case.
In early 2014, Barnett pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor child endangerment charge for supplying Daisy Coleman with alcohol and leaving her outside in below-freezing temperatures. He was sentenced to two years probation.
Daisy Coleman suffered intense bullying in the aftermath, as Heavy previously reported. She detailed in the documentary how she felt people in the town of Maryville put the blame on her for what had happened. The family relocated back to Albany, Missouri, in August 2012.
3. Melinda Coleman Said Her Daughter Never Recovered From the Pain of the Assault
Daisy Coleman attempted suicide in January 2014. The Washington Post reported it was an attempted overdose and that she was rushed to a children’s psychiatric hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. The newspaper, citing Melinda Coleman, reported it was the third time Daisy had tried to take her own life.
Melinda Coleman told WDAF-TV at the time that her daughter had tried to take her own life after attending a party the night before. She said Daisy was “attacked” online following the gathering.
On August 4, 2020, at the age of 23, Daisy Coleman died by suicide. Police found her body after Melinda Coleman requested a welfare check, TMZ reported. Melinda Coleman wrote on Facebook at the time according to the AP, “She was my best friend and amazing daughter. I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her. I can’t. I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”
4. Melinda Coleman Was Riding in the Passenger Seat In the Crash That Killed Her Son, Tristan
Tristan Ash Coleman died in a car crash on June 18, 2018. As KAKE-TV reported at the time, Tristan Coleman was driving a Ford F250 on Interstate 70 around 10:20 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle. The outlet reported that the driver “overcorrected after entering the median” which caused the truck to roll over twice.
Tristan Coleman was pronounced dead at the scene. He was just 19 years old. Melinda Coleman was in the passenger seat. She was treated for injuries at a local hospital.
According to his obituary, Tristan and Melinda had been driving home to Albany, Missouri, after helping Daisy move to Colorado Springs.
The obituary noted that Tristan had graduated with honors from Albany High School in 2017. He had been working as a veterinary technician and had planned to study the subject in college. The obituary added that he had spent the final year of his life “caring for his mother as well as working with her.”
Tristan Coleman was also remembered for his own advocacy on behalf of survivors of sexual assault. “Tristan also talked to high school students about sexual assault, consent and title 9. At one event, he spoke to over 500 students. He was an impressive and inspirational speaker that truly loved people and wanted to make the world a better place.”
5. Melinda Coleman Witnessed the Car Crash That Killed Her Husband, Dr. Michael Coleman, in 2009
Melinda Coleman lost her husband in 2009. As Heavy previously reported, Dr. Michael Coleman was driving to watch his son Charlie compete in a wrestling tournament. Daisy and another of their three sons, Logan, were also riding in the car. The vehicle hit black ice and ended up in a ravine. The two children survived the crash but Michael was killed.
Melinda Coleman described her husband and the crash in an editorial for the Independent in February 2014. She explained that Daisy managed to help Logan out of the car following the crash. The Kansas City Star reported the children “escaped through a back window.”
Melinda Coleman wrote in the Independent that she had been driving behind her husband and called Life Flight for help. She explained that after Michael’s death, she decided to move the family from Albany to Maryville “to start over because we didn’t want to be the ‘tragedy family.'”
In the editorial, Melinda Coleman theorized that the trauma Daisy endured following the sexual assault may have been mitigated if her father had been around to defend her:
Mike was a big teddy bear, but people did not mess with him. I truly believe that if he had been alive and here today, I don’t think any of this nightmare we have been living through these past few years would have happened.
Melinda Coleman further described her husband’s nature in the 2014 piece:
Before my husband, Michael, died in a car accident in 2009, life was a lot simpler. I had my veterinary practice in Albany, Missouri, and Mike was the doctor to many of my kids’ friends and families. In the years since, we’ve all grieved the loss of him, but no more than in the past few months since my daughter’s rape case became the subject of international media attention.
Mike was 6ft 3in. He was not only a physician, but an all-natural body builder. He was one of those guys who was gregarious and funny, and he had such a rapport with children. When he was giving shots in his office, he would sometimes flex his pec muscles and make the kids laugh when he gave them injections. He loved his children – and all children – more than anything in the world. One little girl he treated was very abused. I found out that he had signed our family up to foster her because she had been in such a terrible situation. I said, “Mike, this isn’t like a puppy. This is a person. Maybe you should have talked to me first.” But, of course, he was right to do what he did. That’s just how he was. He had such a big heart.