When word came out that Titi Branch, one of half of the Japanese/African-American sister duo that founded natural hair care line Miss Jessie’s had committed suicide at age 45, the natural hair care community was stunned. Titi, along with sister Miko, were popular among the natural hair gurus who’d used Black women’s hair struggles as the starting point for their own personal and business evolution. Miko seemed as shocked as everyone else, with word of Titi’s death coming out weeks after it happened and little information on the possible cause since.
Now it seems as though there may have been a more concrete reason for Titi’s despair. Miko says her boyfriend, Anthony Spadofora was a financial drain and that Titi’s efforts to get pregnant may have lead to her suicide.
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.
Titi was ready to kick Spadafora to the curb last year when she found out he sexually propositioned her trainer, but he knew how to keep her in line, Miko alleges in court papers.
Spadafora “took extreme measures to stop her . . . sending compromising photographs that he had taken of her,” the sister claims.
Within days of her death, he peppered her grieving parents with e-mails claiming he had a new will drafted by Titi giving him 50 percent of everything, according to the suit.
He also took his girlfriend’s computer and refused to return it to her family members unless they forked over Titi’s expensive Cartier bracelet, according to court papers.
When they did, the computer he returned had its drive scrubbed clean, the Branch family claims.
Spadafora called the charges “ridiculous.”
He claims Titi’s bitter falling out with Miko in September 2013 prompted her to change the beneficiary on her life-insurance policy, and drove Titi out of the company she and Miko started together in 2004.
“She was changing everything,” he said.
The sisters “loved each other” but had different management styles, and as tensions grew, Titi couldn’t take the stress, he claims, calling Miko “the bully of Brooklyn.”
“They’re trying to paint me as a villain,” he said.
He met Titi on Match.com in 2012, and the relationship quickly became serious.
“It was a real love . . . I was dedicated to her; she was dedicated to me,” he said, calling Titi his “Lady Liberty.”
Spandafora went on to say he wants no problems with Branch’s family and wants to avoid ‘war’ with them.