‘Loved his family’: Obituary infuriated Michigan teen shot in face by stepdad

Amedy Dewey holds a form as she stands inside the University of Michigan W.K. Kellogg Eye Center during her eye care appointment in Ann Arbor on Thursday, June 15, 2023.
Amedy Dewey holds a form as she stands inside the University of Michigan W.K. Kellogg Eye Center during her eye care appointment in Ann Arbor on Thursday, June 15, 2023.

Editor's note: This is the third chapter of a five-part series in which Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel shares the story of a Michigan survivor of gun violence. These chapters include descriptions of a gruesome crime scene as well as devastating injuries, and discuss domestic violence, child abuse and suicide. If you or someone you know is a survivor and seeking help, you’ll find a list of resources at the end of this article.

Jan. 8, 2018, Grand Rapids

Two days after a shotgun slug pulverized her face, in a critical care unit at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Amedy Dewey was alert but couldn’t see out of either eye. She had already been through several surgeries, as doctors tried to piece her face together like a puzzle, inserting screws to hold the shattered bones in place.

Thankfully, she could think clearly. The shotgun slug missed her brain but damaged her upper palate, both eyes, jaw and half her face. A trach tube prevented her from speaking but she could hear voices.

She moved her hands, trying to communicate through sign language, a course she had taken in high school but nobody could figure out what she was doing.

Finally, somebody handed her a paper and pen.

“And I'm like, 'thank you,' ” she said. “Because it was like playing charades and I'm blind.”

She wrote on the piece of paper: “Will I ever again see again?”

“The doctor kind of essentially said, ‘No, you'll never regain it,’ ” she remembered.

She laughed.

“Watch me,” she wrote.

Amedy transferred out of the critical care unit and stood up briefly on Jan. 11. The next day, she passed a swallow test and ate ice chips.

On Jan. 13, Amedy walked down the hallway and back to her room, another sign of progress. A few close friends and family were allowed to visit her. Two days later, Amedy figured out how to speak with the trach. Completely blind, she got some audiobooks from the library because she was frustrated, trying to listen to a movie without watching it.

By Jan. 17, the attempts to save her left eye were failing and the pain was excruciating.

“It was literally just dangling there like a dried-up fisheye,” Amedy said.

After doctors presented her with different options, Amedy decided to have the eye removed. Almost instantly, the vision in her right eye improved. Doctors formed a theory that her brain was working so hard to see out of both eyes, at the same time, that after the left was removed some vision returned in her right.

“I was starting to see again, things started getting fuzzy, and then I remember the first color I saw was red,” she said.

Recalling her story

Detective Hesche and his partner, Detective Jon Ruswinckel, interviewed Amedy at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital on Jan. 18. She was in bed, conscious and alert, with tubes sticking out of her head to relieve swelling. Her face was yellow, blue and puffed up. Gauze covered one eye, the other was swelled shut.

Hesche didn’t plan to stay long. The evidence at the scene was overwhelming to him that David Somers was the main suspect in the two shooting deaths and Amedy's injuries, and he was dead. There would be no trial. Hesche just needed to verify basic facts.

“No,” Amedy said. “We're going to talk about this, and you can ask anything you want.”

“She painted the whole picture,” Hesche said. “And not only just what happened that night, but we got into all the reasons this happened to begin with.”

Amedy was in pain and had trouble speaking clearly but she described everything that had happened at the Orlando airport, how she and her mother had discovered David’s infidelity on a social media app and the fight in the car.

Why were they going that direction?

They were cutting across the state because David was supposed to drop Amedy off in Midland to stay with Becki Hoon — her legal guardian.

The officers found Amedy remarkable, in part, because she didn’t minimize her involvement. She admitted confronting David in the vehicle, screaming at him, stoking his anger.

Phillip Hesche, 44, an Ionia County Sheriff's Office detective sergeant, stands in a room inside the Ionia County Courthouse on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. Hesche was the detective that showed up on the scene after Amedy Dewey was shot in the face. "It happened around January and it was dead dry cold, Hesche said. "I couldn't fathom what was so bad that he would shoot his wife in the face and then shoot his stepdaughter in the face and then turn the gun to himself and shoot himself."

Her version of the story aligned perfectly with the autopsy report, the evidence at the scene, the timeline the police had put together and what 911 callers had reported, according to Hesche. She also cleared up the mystery of the bloody smears on the outside of the vehicle after telling Hesche she had gotten out of the vehicle two times, leaving behind bloody tracks.

As Amedy told the story of how she got out of the vehicle and felt her way around it, trying to get help, fighting to live, Hesche looked at this 18-year-old high school senior and was amazed.

“She wasn't giving her life up for him,” he said. “She wasn't going to do it. There was no way she was dying alongside that (expletive) freeway.”

Amedy also cleared up something else: Why didn’t David go on the cruise with them?

Amedy, her mother and stepfather planned to drive from Michigan to Florida to go on a cruise, Amedy told police. She was sleeping during the drive and knew that they had stopped in Kentucky. David had had some type of “massive meltdown,” Hesche wrote in a report.

David decided to drive back to Michigan and Amedy was relieved.

“I was ecstatic because I don't like him,” she said. “I haven't liked him, ever.”

Lisa Somers poses for a selfie while on a cruise in late December 2017.
Lisa Somers poses for a selfie while on a cruise in late December 2017.

Her mother rented a car and drove the rest of the way. As they finished the drive to Florida, her mother said something that would haunt Amedy for years.

“She said, ‘Amedy, if you weren't here with me, I would have gone back Up North with him,’ ” Amedy said.

That left Amedy with a question she couldn't shake: If that would have happened, would her mother still be alive?

The Carnival Cruise left Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Dec. 30, 2017. Lisa and Amedy took day trips to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Amedy only wanted one thing for her birthday: to touch the ocean for the first time in her life.

“So, we went to the beach,” she said. “I remember walking into the water and it was like bath water. It was so clear I could see the bottom. My mom walked in with me, and we held hands, just kind of stood there and enjoyed the view. I remember looking at the water and looking at the sky and the colors were so beautiful. It was so tranquil.”

Amedy Dewey, in red, poses for a photo with her grandmother Pat Foster, left, and her mother, Lisa Somers, center, during a horse carriage ride to see the sights in Nassau, Bahamas, on Dec. 31, 2017.
Amedy Dewey, in red, poses for a photo with her grandmother Pat Foster, left, and her mother, Lisa Somers, center, during a horse carriage ride to see the sights in Nassau, Bahamas, on Dec. 31, 2017.

Midway through the trip, Lisa talked with David on the phone, and he informed her that he was having surgery to get a brain tumor removed through his nose. Amedy did not believe that her mother knew about it before that point because she had never brought it up.

“She was extremely worried for him,” Amedy said.

Two days later, David sent Lisa a photo. “I remember him sending a photo to my mother and his entire nose was bandaged up and everything,” Amedy said.

As Amedy finished the story, describing the shooting, she even cracked a joke to the officers.

“Well, he (expletive) up this birthday,” she said to the officers. “But next year is gonna be a blowout. You guys are invited if you want to go.”

Hesche was stunned.

“You gotta understand, from my point of view, I was picking up pieces of her face and her teeth off the freeway in the middle of the night, just 10 days prior, just literally pieces,” he said. “That girl is the toughest human being I've ever met in my entire life.”

The interview lasted about an hour.

"I remember walking out of there with my partner at the time, and we just looked at each other,” Hesche said. “Have you ever seen anything like that?”

At the most basic level, Hesche was stunned that Amedy was alive after getting shot in the face. A 12-gauge shotgun slug has enough power and mass to blow hinges off a door.

“That'll drop an angry bull,” Hesche said. “It's just an immense amount of energy and for her to survive that? It just doesn't happen.”

He felt like he was talking to a Marvel character, some kind of superhero with magical powers.

"She’s a real-life Deadpool,” he said, of a character in the movies who never dies, even after getting shot.

It was the most remarkable interview of his career.

“Without a doubt in my mind,” Hesche said, “I've never met someone with a stronger will to survive.”

Feeling attacked by media

Three weeks after the shooting, Amedy started to review news reports about the shooting.

Some recordings of 911 calls were posted online and Amedy listened to them several times, thankful for everyone who called. “Saved my life,” she thought and planned on finding the callers on Facebook to thank them personally.

She got her boyfriend to read her the news reports about the shooting, and several stories were so twisted and wrong, in her opinion, that it infuriated her.

The first stories didn’t mention David’s affair with the teenager.

She read David’s online obituary and it enraged her: There was no mention of how he killed her mother or how he shot her in the face. It just glossed over what happened, almost like it didn't happen.

“In Kaleva, he helped organize the softball leagues and was also in charge of the Kaleva softball fields,” the online obituary read. “David enjoyed baseball, softball, hunting, snowmobiling, camping, and off-roading. Earlier on in his life, he enjoyed little league, the Fifth Reformed Cadet Program, horseback riding, rodeo, and bull riding. Most of all, David loved his family.”

Loved his family? Amedy couldn’t take it.

“David was preceded in death by his wife, Lisa,” the obituary read.

Yeah, because he killed her, Amedy thought.

The obituary read like a typical, boilerplate version with no sinister, harmful intention. But in Amedy’s perception, sitting in a hospital room, after a surgeon removed her eye, recovering from a shotgun blast to the face while grieving for her mother, she felt like she was being attacked again. Like he was getting away with it in a twisted way, as if everyone was glossing over it, and if you didn't mention it, it didn't happen, and couldn't be true.

“I am so sorry for your loss,” someone posted to David’s family on the obituary page. “I went to school with Dave and graduated with him. I am in shock as I know you all are.”

Hesche has seen this play out different ways several times. It’s complicated when friends and family try to come to grips with the idea that someone they loved, someone they cherished, committed an evil act. To some, it might be so out of character. To others, like Amedy, there were warning signs.

Amedy felt like she was stuck in the middle of that struggle. She wasn’t looking for pity — she hates pity. But she felt what he did — how he killed her mother — was being glossed over and forgotten.

Becki Hoon, left, Amedy Dewey, middle, and Rose Haynor sit inside their room at the Med Inn Building in Ann Arbor on Sunday, July 23, 2023. Hoon and Haynor shed some tears as they remember Dewey's mother, who was shot and killed in a gun violence attack.
Becki Hoon, left, Amedy Dewey, middle, and Rose Haynor sit inside their room at the Med Inn Building in Ann Arbor on Sunday, July 23, 2023. Hoon and Haynor shed some tears as they remember Dewey's mother, who was shot and killed in a gun violence attack.

She saw posts about David describing Lisa as his soulmate — Lisa and David had met playing adult softball in west Michigan; and they married and moved to Kaleva, a small town in northern Michigan between Ludington and Traverse City.

But a soulmate?

This guy who had killed her?

Some stories mentioned how David was “kind” and this was “completely out of character.”

This man who had just blown off half her face?

Other news reports mentioned that David had a brain tumor, and it enraged her.

Amedy went on social media and felt that her mother was under attack.

Some questioned the timeline: Why did Lisa go on a vacation when her husband was having surgery on a brain tumor?

“I heard just a whole bunch of hate,” Amedy said. “They ridiculed my mother. And I just wanted to scream: She didn't know! He told us that Wednesday. And he faked it anyway.”

To Amedy, they were bashing Lisa, blaming her for being uncaring, turning her into the villain.

Amedy came to realize the tumor story was a fabrication. She said she never found any shred of evidence that he had surgery — no paperwork, no test results, no medical records, not even the name of a doctor.

“There was absolutely no tumor,” Amedy said. “He did not have one at all. He faked all of it. All of it.”

That assertion was backed up by police, Hesche said recently.

Amedy believes David’s motive for faking the tumor and not going on the cruise was obvious: “He wanted to play house with his mistress,” she said.

What that gunshot stole from Amedy

There are 43 muscles in the human face. Some are involved in basic functions like chewing or blinking. But other muscles form the center of communication — the ability to show happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.

For most, the face is a window into how someone feels. How someone communicates in the most subtle ways.

But that shotgun blast stole the subtle nuance of communication from Amedy.

“High velocity weapons do tremendous devastation to the delicate features of the face, which are skin, muscle, nerves and bone,” said Dr. Christian Vercler, a plastic surgeon at the University of Michigan. “We can mimic the appearance of the face but it's such a unique thing. It's the center of human communication. And it's permanently altered after a gunshot in a devastating way that can never fully be restored.”

For two months, Amedy stayed at the hospital in Grand Rapids and went through at least 15 facial surgeries.

Surgeons inserted nasal trumpets into her nostrils to open her airway to help her breathe.

“Misery,” Amedy said. “They were in there so that the muscle wouldn't collapse. They were like a soft plastic but they would get hard if there was any moisture.”

Every week, she went through a surgery, either a wound cleaning or a major reconstruction.

After two months in Grand Rapids, she spent a week in Ann Arbor for yet another major surgery. The side of her face was like a sink hole because she was missing so much bone and tissue, and doctors at U-M wanted to refill it.

Plastic surgeons decided to take a thick muscle from her back and move it to her face. But it wasn't a perfect fix. The muscle looked huge on her face. “They told me that they can always extract some out, they can never put more in,” she said.

Over time, that muscle sagged and eventually, Vercler performed another operation to lift it.

That became a recurring theme for Amedy since the shooting: One operation blended into the next. There was never an ending, just another tweak in the future.

Amedy Dewey, 23, uses the microphone as she creates a message to send to her close friend inside her home in Scottville on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.
Amedy Dewey, 23, uses the microphone as she creates a message to send to her close friend inside her home in Scottville on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.

In another surgery, doctors took 2 inches of her rib and put it under her eye, like laying a foundation on which to place a house, to prepare the socket for a prosthetic eye. But doctors feared she had too much scar tissue.

“The scarring would just push it right back out,” Amedy said.

The shotgun blast destroyed so many teeth that she got dentures.

“My upper jaw was no longer there, so my teeth were actually eating themselves,” she said. “It felt like coral.”

Her face was covered with heavy scarring, which created another series of challenges. Scars can change over time, twisting or warping, changing the appearance of the face. So Vercler used lasers to soften the appearance of the heavy scarring.

Over the years, doctors performed an endless cycle of tweaking and cleaning and moving and lifting, and then tweaking some more.

“There's always problems that kind of creep up later, when you have that kind of devastating injury,” Vercler said.

Some of the scars were visible.

And some were not.

But they came out in her dreams.

Come back to the Free Press for Chapter 4 of Amedy's Story: Visits from a killer

Contact Jeff Seidel: or follow him @seideljeff.

If you are experiencing domestic violence or struggling with thoughts of suicide, there are local and national services that can help.

Resources for people experiencing domestic violence

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: Text "START" to 88788, call 800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat at The website said Thursday that it is experiencing wait times that may be longer than 15 minutes to connect with a someone over call or chat.

  • In Macomb County, Turning Point has a 24-hour hotline: 586-463-6990. More information on Turning Point's services is available at

  • In Oakland County, Haven operates a 24-hour hotline at 877-922-1274 or 248-334-1274 and a live chat option on its website

  • In Wayne County, First Step operates a 24-hour hotline at 734-722-6800. More information is avialable at

  • Across Michigan, 866-VOICEDV (864-2338); Text at 877-861-0222 and chat at

  • The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has a list of agencies throughout the state that support people experiencing domestic violence at Click on "Find Services Near You."

Resources for people experiencing thoughts of suicide

  • The 988 Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Hotline): Dial 988 on your phone, text 988 or use the service's webchat at Veterans can get specialized help by pressing "1" when they dial.

  • Macomb County County Community Health runs a 24-hour crisis hotline at 586-307-9100.

  • In Wayne County, Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network has a 24-hour helpline at 800-241-4949.

  • In Oakland County, Common Ground operates a 24-hour hotline at 800-231-1127, and can connect people throughout southeast Michigan to resources.

  • More services are available based on where you live. Check out the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' list of available helplines and groups at

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Amedy Dewey begins painful road to recovery after gunshot to face