Around three in morning on December 9, 2010 someone staying at the SoHo House Hotel in Manhattan New York called the front desk to report that there was water leaking in the ceiling, likely from the room above. When the employees entered the room above they found thirty-three year old Sylvie Cachay dead inside the tub.
Sylvie was an up and coming swimsuit designer who was making her way in New York. For the last six month she had dated Nicholas Brooks. Nicholas was the son of Joseph Brooks, a moderately successful composer who had won an Academy Award for the song You Light up My Life in the late 70's. Over the years he would direct several B movies but most of his success came from You Light up My Life. He was successful enough that his twenty-four year old son rarely worked and lived off a trust fund created, and when that was not enough he got money from his dad. In articles throughout my research he was often referred to as the “stoner playboy.” Sylvie's friends were confused at the relationship because Nicholas did not seem to be the type that Sylvie was looking for. In fact, the six months they spent dating were not all happy times. Some argued that Sylvie attempted to break up with Nicholas but that he would become violent and issue threats.
On the night of December 8th the couple were staying at Sylvie's apartment when a candle had fallen on the bed and started a small fire. Sylvie was a member of the SoHo club and they decided to go there for the night because the apartment had an odor. The employee at the desk said that the couple seemed to not be getting along very well and a bit odd. There were reports that arguing between the two could be heard while at the hotel.
Surveillance cameras showed that Nicholas left the hotel sometime after 2:00. When he returned around 5:30 there was crime scene tape in the area and he was questioned. He would tell authorities that he and Sylvie had argued over the fire issue and that he had left the room, met a guy at the hotel bar and then left with him and was just returning. He claimed that when he left Sylvie was planning to take a bath. The prosecution would later claim that the fight between the couple centered on the fact that Sylvie was breaking up with him but in all fairness that is unproven.
Sylvie had been found partially clothed in the tub and at first glace it looked like a drowning, even if forced. However, an autopsy would conclude that the cause of death included strangulation and considering Nicholas was the only other person in the room the prosecutors charged him. Needless to say his father was none too happy with him, but then again his father had his own legal problems to face.
In 2009 Joseph Brooks was indicted on charges relating to the rape and molestation of thirteen women. The prosecutors would claim that Joseph would lure women to his apartment through an online ad offering auditions for movie roles. Once there he would give them wine that had been laced with drugs, telling them it was part of the audition. Once the women were incapacitated he would sexually assault them. He face 127 counts of sexual misconduct, including rape.
At any rate it was said that Joseph supposedly cut Nicholas out of his will. Nicholas, money train was ending it seemed. In May of 2011, while his son was still awaiting trial, Joseph Brooks would commit suicide before his own trial.
Nicholas went to trial in July of 2013. The defense would claim that Nicholas was not in the room when Sylvie drowned and that there were drugs in her system, attempting to say they were the blame for her drowning. Part of that problem was that Nicholas had at some point admitted to giving Sylvie at the very least a Xanax, if not other drugs. Nicholas' sister, Amanda would support her brother and believe in his innocence. In fact when a friend of Sylvie's testified for the prosecution about the supposed death threats from Nicholas to Sylvie, Amanda yelled out from gallery. It caused such a disturbance that she was escorted out of the courtroom.
Nicholas would be convicted on July 11, 2013. He would be sentenced to twenty-five years to life. The New York Department of Corrections website is one that gives very general information so I cannot say when he may be eligible for parole.
In September of 2014 Sylvie's family sued him in civil court and were awarded $12.5 M in the settlement. This is where the attorney stated that he had been cut out of his father's will. However, it does seem that he was receiving royalties from his father's estate. It was said that by December of 2015 he had received $132,000 since he had been behind bars and he was due to collect another $172,000 soon after. Whether the family has ever been able to recover any of the judgment money is unclear.
In 2015 Nicholas' appeal was denied.