NEW YORK, NY — On the surface, the connection between 24-year-old trust fund playboy Nicholas Brooks and stunning swimwear designer Sylvie Cachay seemed like a storybook romance.
But when Cachay told Brooks that she wanted out of their volatile six-month relationship, police say he strangled her in the bathtub of their Soho House hotel room on December 9, 2010.
Cachay’s death shocked members of private club Soho House in New York’s meatpacking district as well as her family and friends in the fashion industry. Friends said that two weeks before her death, Cachay complained that she paid for “everything” in her relationship and had written an email complaining that Brooks, who was unemployed, had been acting erratically.
The horror unfolded behind closed doors after Cachay and Brooks checked into room 20 at about 12:20 A.M. on December 9, 2010.
When hotel staff responded to complaints about water leaking into a room below, they found Cachay’s body and called police at around 3 A.M. Cachay was found face-up in the bathtub, and was reportedly wearing a black top and underwear, with a bite mark on her hand and fingertip-shaped bruises on her neck.There was a prescription pill bottle in the room but no illegal drugs were found anywhere — and Cachay’s autopsy was inconclusive.
Brooks was charged with her murder and widely considered a “heartless playboy killer” during the trial. But the defense painted a picture of Brooks as a tortured man battling a dark family past.
In 2009, Nicholas Brooks’ famous father, musician Joseph Brooks — who was best known for writing “You Light Up My Life,” for which he received the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1978 — was arrested on sexual-assault charges.
Two years after reportedly assaulting a young actress, he committed suicide. Nicholas Brooks’ lawyer also claimed that the famous musician kidnapped Nicholas when he was eight years old and refused to let him see his mother.
Brooks lawyer also tried to make the case during the trial that “rough sex” hours before the drowning could account for the neck bruises and bloodshot eyes, but the judge barred the defense from asking any questions on that theory, saying it was utterly unsupported by the evidence.
Brooks’ brief statement at his sentencing drew sharp criticism. Instead of apologizing for killing Cachay, he described the murder as a series of uncontrollable events, saying: “The loss of Sylvie is the most devastating thing that ever occurred in my life … I think about her every day, and it breaks my heart.”
Eventually, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bonnie Wittner said the defendant had shown no remorse for his crime, had squandered his privilege, and had contributed nothing to society.
“You brutally killed my daughter,” Cachay’s father, Antonio, said at the sentencing. “You’re an animal, a sewer rat — and you’ll pay for your crime.”
Brooks was sentenced to 25 years to life.
Main photo: Cachay’s body being taken from the crime scene [ABC News/screenshot]