The Sole Witness to Sylvie Cachay's Murder Was Her Poodle

By Murray Weiss on December 15, 2010 5:45pm | Updated on December 16, 2010 6:24am

By Murray Weiss

DNAinfo Contributing Columnist

If only the dog could talk.

Bikini designer Sylvie Cachay's tiny brown poodle saw it all. Her toy companion was at her feet during the bizarre final encounter between the star-crossed Cachay and her screwed-up boyfriend, Nicholas Brooks.

It took two days in police custody for the unemployed son of a reputed pervert composer to sober up from the drinks he belted back and the pot he smoked on the night he allegedly murdered Cachay, sources said. Through his groggy haze, the 24-year-old Brooks stuck to his simple alibi: Cachay was zonked out on Xanax and anti-depressants when he left her alone in their room at SoHo House.

The beautiful Cachay was virtually carried into SoHo House at 12:30 a.m., sources said, when she, Brooks and her toy poodle arrived from her apartment, where scented candles had scorched her bed and her hair.

"I put her to bed and I went out," Brooks told investigators. "I thought she'd sleep it off."

But he was not tired. He went downstairs and headed for the bar. In the lobby, he met a man and they went together for drinks.

Investigators have spoken to that stranger. He is openly gay. He told prosecutors he caught Brooks' eye. He fancied Brooks’ scruffy good looks. He had that in common with Cachay.

The stranger hoped for a bit of romance that night. Brooks had other things on his mind.

The stranger became his alibi.

Around closing time, 4 a.m., Brooks returned to his room. There were hotel workers — and his girlfriend, sitting in her sweater and underwear, dead in the tub.

Her poodle was a few feet away.

Detectives noticed hemorrhaging in her eyes as soon as they peered into them. DNAinfo reported that first. It’s a strong sign of strangulation. Red marks around her neck support that theory.

And there are bruises and small scratches on his body that sources say correspond either to a struggle or his having hoisted her into the bath.

"She did not just get into that tub herself," a source said.

There was also an apology note in her handbag.

Brooks told authorities that his relationship with Cachay had its ups and down. She was the stronger personality. After each argument he wrote sorrowful notes apologizing for being a bad little boy, like another of her puppy dogs.

The note held no significance, he told investigators.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. disagreed. The DA claims Brooks killed Cachay because she wanted to break up with him.

Brooks' father, Joseph, wrote "You Light Up My Life," and is charged with raping young wannabe composers and singers. The younger Brooks was charged with attempted murder and strangulation under a new domestic violence statute recently signed into law by Gov. David Paterson. He's due back in court on Thursday.

Evidence is being presented to a grand jury that is expected next week to upgrade the charges to murder. There is little evidence to support any other theory, sources say.

There was a little water in her lungs, but not enough likely to kill her or indicate she accidentally drowned, sources said. There is a question about what drugs – and how much – were in her system. The level of narcotics may have contributed to her death, the defense will surely say. But sources say there is more evidence to come.

Brooks lived in a shared apartment on East 16th Street with three other young men who came to the Big Apple from various parts of the country to make it in Manhattan. Brooks was the son of privilege. Rather than making it, he was a hard partying pothead on the club scene.

Cachay started dating him after he consoled her when another poodle, Pepper, was hit by a car and died several months ago. She loved that dog, her family said.

It wasn't immediately whether the poodle investigators found cowering feet away from Cachay's lifeless body was a replacement or a surviving pet.

But she loved that dog, too. It went everywhere with her.

Murray Weiss is an award-winning investigative journalist, author, columnist and editor, and is considered an expert on government, law enforcement, criminal justice, organized crime and terrorism.

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