At 10 she found her parents murdered, she’s just graduated at the top of her class

Published 6:44 am Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Mississippi teenager has graduated as salutatorian of her high school class, nearly eight years after she came home and discovered that her parents and aunt had been stabbed to death.

Nina Li Brashear spoke Saturday at the D’Iberville High School graduation about the trauma she has overcome since that day in October 2011, the Sun Herald reported.

She said the loss of her parents, Chen Rong and Mei Gong Li, and aunt, Mei Jing Li, was “a very dark time.” But she also told her classmates “there is always hope, always a new day.”

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In an interview with the newspaper, Brashear said she was usually accompanied or met by her siblings after school, but that day was different. Her brother stayed at school for basketball practice and her sister’s bus was running late.

The 10-year-old was dropped off as usual at her parents’ restaurant, Chinese Happiness, in D’Iberville. She said the restaurant was closed, so she walked home.

“I went into the house and went into my mom’s room and I saw my aunt on the floor,” she said. “I ran out and went to the nearest car repair shop and asked someone to call the police.”

Nobody has been convicted in the killings.

Nina, her sister Anna and brothers Carlos and Joseph had no other family in the area.

They were immediately taken in by her first grade teacher, Allison Brashear, and the teacher’s husband, Deen Brashear, who is a pastor. The couple had been frequent customers at the restaurant.

“We knew from day one we wanted to adopt them.” Deen Brashear said. The four additions made seven children for the family, and the adoptions were completed in two years.

Nina Brashear credits faith with helping her persevere, and she said she set a goal of achieving academic excellence.

“Even though your trials may not be the same as mine, there are difficulties for you, as well,” she told her classmates.

“Bad things happen to all people, but I believe that triumph and victory and being able to overcome is in the grasp of all of us.”