On Thursday we reported about the arrest and charging of Joshua Bedell (pictured in header from his mugshot) in connection with the alleged abuse of a woman including kidnapping, sodomy, and assault.
Through the day Thursday, multiple women began to speak out on social media regarding abuse they had experienced at the hands of Bedell. One of those women is Lora Hunt, who posted on Facebook some of her experiences with Bedell.
Hunt spoke with OI Thursday night about her experiences with Bedell, hoping that in sharing her experiences both the community can better understand the experiences of those victimized by domestic abuse and that Bedell will be brought to justice.
OI: How did you and Joshua meet?
Lora Hunt: We actually went to school together when we were younger. He was the athletic, popular, jocky guy so all of the girls had crushes on him in high school. Then life happened and we didn’t talk to each other after high school but then found each other on Facebook.
So I told him I had this crush on him in high school and we were never able to talk and he was like “you actually remember me?” And he said that he was head over heels for me but was too shy to talk to me.
We then met and dated for a few months and one day after a few months he just showed up at my house with all his stuff and said he was going to move in.
OI: So he didn’t give you a choice? He just showed up and said “I’m moving in”?
Lora Hunt: Yeah. He says “I think I’m going to give this a shot and I’m going to make it all or nothing.” He just made the decision and moved into my house. This was in 2016. It became the worst year of my life.
OI: So you really didn’t want him living there.
Lora Hunt: Yeah. I definitely didn’t want to live with anybody and he was like “I’m just going to stay here.”
OI: So why did you let him stay?
Lora Hunt: We had been dating a couple months by that point. And I just said “OK.” I went against my gut feelings and said ok. And he had two nephews that he was taking care of at the time and he just moved them in too. It was my two kids, his two kids and me and him.
It was really against my will. I totally didn’t want him there.
OI: When did the physical abuse begin?
Lora Hunt: After about four months of being with him. It scared me when I first met his dad. His dad said to me “so, has he hit you yet?” And I was like “What?” Josh looked at me and then looked at him like “really dad?”
This was about three months and he acted very proud he hadn’t hit me yet because he said he hit other girls way before, like right off the bat. So I was supposed to consider myself lucky that he hadn’t hit me.
OI: So then what happened?
Lora Hunt: At this point, he was definitely living with me and at that point he was starting to get more stern. Not physical, but I didn’t feel comfortable. We had a conversation about breaking up and he would tell me I’m a quitter, I couldn’t handle this, I didn’t want this, I didn’t really love him, I didn’t really care about him…
I didn’t want to feel like I couldn’t handle it, so I stayed to show him I could handle it.
OI: So he really started by using a lot of emotional abuse.
Lora Hunt: Oh yeah. That’s what he did first before he knew it was OK to hit me, I guess. Once he knew he could hit me then I wasn’t going to do anything I guess.
OI: How long did that last?
Lora Hunt: That lasted for almost a full year.
OI: And he often told you that he had abused women in previous relationships?
Lora Hunt: He told me about his ex-wife, that he gave her a concussion. He’ll tell anybody that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with hitting women and that he’s Muslim, and in the Muslim religion there’s nothing wrong with hitting your wife.
OI: And his family knew about it and did nothing?
Lora Hunt: His mom came over one day. She was on the phone with him and he started beating the [profanity] out of me while he was on the phone with her. So she came over because she was used to it. She was used to him beating up all the girls that he was with. She told me that.
So she came over here and she was able to stop him and then she met my mom and my mom was talking to his mom about it being ridiculous and this is my daughter. And his mom wasn’t being rude but she said that “she’s the lucky one because most of the ones he’s with end up in intensive care.”
OI: So in addition to assaulting you, what else happened?
Lora Hunt: He also kidnapped me.
Christmas eve of 2016, he made my kids leave. He made them take my car and leave. He took my phone and made me get in his car. I told him I didn’t want to go, and he said “you’re going with me” and we argued back and forth and I said I didn’t want to go with him. Finally, I got in his car and took my phone, turned off the GPS, turned my phone off and took me out in the country in Strafford and took me to a cemetery. He tried to be very intimidating, he tried to scare me.
This was Christmas Eve. My family was terrified. My kids were saying “oh my Gosh, Josh is doing something to mom.” They had the cops come over to the house. The cops came over several times.
OI: Well, why didn’t you tell the police what was going on?
Lora Hunt: He wouldn’t let me get to the door. When no one answered the door eventually the police had to leave.
The night that he kidnapped me, the kids let the cops in the house but obviously we weren’t there. My mom says that was the scariest night of her life. She thought I was going to be found dead.
OI: So what happened when he took you?
Lora Hunt: He beat the living [profanity] out of me that night. He broke my finger. I was so beaten up and hurt so bad. Then after he took me out to the country, he took me to his grandma’s house where I slept in the car until the wee hours of the morning before he took me back home.
OI: Did he ever abuse your daughters?
Lora Hunt: He never touched my kids. He came to nose to nose with my youngest daughter and screamed in her face. My daughters, they’re now adults over 18.
My oldest daughter, when I first made him leave, he used to stalk her on Facebook and send her messages. He would tell her “oh, I’ve been watching you”, he’d make sexual comments and stuff, “I”ve always watched you.” Stuff like that.
That’s damaged her for sure. He’s didn’t just do it once. He did it a lot to her and to one of her friends. She had just turned 18.
OI: So when did you finally break free?
Lora Hunt: The last attack, it wasn’t even a fight, it was just an attack because I didn’t fight back. I really thought that night he was going to be the last person I ever saw in my life. He wasn’t letting my kids around, and I told them to stay at my mom’s because I didn’t want to let them see.
He was so abusive one night, in my face, telling me that he was going to kill me and if any family members called the cops [he was going to kill us.] I really thought that he was going to kill me that night and I didn’t want him to be the last person I saw in my life.
So I decided that night he wasn’t going to be the last person I saw. So the next day after work I went to my mom’s house and said I wasn’t going home and I never went back home.
OI: So you didn’t go to the police?
Lora Hunt: I filed a restraining order. I just wanted him away from me. I didn’t know what to do beyond file a restraining order. I didn’t know what to do to file any charges. I didn’t think he would get into any kind of trouble for any of this.
I just wanted him to be away from me. To be out of my life, away from my kids, away from my family.
OI: Did stories that you saw on the news about men who had abused their wives or girlfriends that ended up getting probation or light sentences have an impact on your thinking that even if you reported it to the police nothing would happen to him?
Lora Hunt: Yea. Yea. That’s why when I saw things today on the news [about Bedell’s arrest] I thought “Man, if I can do anything to help the prosecution of this, to share my story so that he gets something, I’ll do it.”
OI: How has what you’ve experienced continued to impact your life?
Lora Hunt: It’s definitely affected my life. I can’t watch regular movies where people fight. There’s a lot of things I don’t do anymore.
At first, when I first got rid of him, I was still so scared of him. Just recently have I changed from “I’m a sad victim” to “I’m a mad victim.” Since I last saw him it was February of 2018, so it’s been a year and a half.
I was just so scared. Everywhere I went I was looking over my shoulder. Gas stations, stores, everywhere. I was locking my doors. I looked everywhere over my shoulder for him because he’s the lowest piece of scum.
He’s a street rat. He’s from the streets. He’ll pop up out of nowhere and I had no idea where he would pop up at any time. So that’s why I didn’t file anything with the police because I was scared of him.
I’m not scared anymore.
(Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there are resources available for you to gain help. Call 911 in the event of emergency or to receive immediate assistance from law enforcement.
The Victim Center has a 24 hour hotline available at 417-864-7233. The Greene County Family Justice Center has a variety of organizations ready to help you escape your abusive situation and get the assistance you may need for you and your family.)