By Jennifer Glickel, Benjamin Fractenberg and Murray Weiss
MANHATTAN — The son of disgraced composer Joseph Brooks was being questioned by police after a beautiful fashion designer was found dead in the bathtub of his SoHo House hotel room Thursday morning.
Swimsuit designer Sylvie Cachay, 33, whose line had been featured in Vogue, Glamour and on runway shows around the country, appeared to have been strangled, said sources.
She was unconscious and unresponsive when emergency crews, called by a SoHo House worker, arrived about 3 a.m. at the fifth-floor room Brooks had rented at SoHo House. She was sitting in a bathtub full of water, police said.
Police sources said drugs may have led to her death. Her hair was singed when police found her, sources said and there was a half-full prescription pill bottle found near the bathtub. She was wearing only a sweater and underwear, sources said.
The medical examiner's office said Friday they had not determined a cause of death.
According to reports, Cachay and Brooks checked in to the hotel, where she was a member, around 12:30 a.m. Thursday after a small fire in her apartment Wednesday night. The New York Post reported that Brooks may have accidentally started the fire by leaving lit candles behind Cachay's bed.
A neighbor who lived above Cachay's West Village apartment told DNAinfo he smelled some smoke Wednesday night, as if someone had left a space heater on too long.
Jason Kuhlman, 30, said he noticed “a slight smell last night.” He said he didn’t notice smoke or anything in the hallway.
Another neighbor who lived directly beneath Cachay said that he heard a lot of movement in the apartment about 11:30 p.m. or midnight.
"It was pretty noisy up there," said Kevin, 32, who declined to give his last name to DNAinfo. "It sounded like a lot of stomping around...Like furniture being moved."
When the couple arrived at the hotel, Cachay had taken so much Xanax that she had to be carried upstairs by a concierge, the Post reported. Brooks was seen on security footage leaving the hotel after 2 a.m., then returning around 3:30 a.m. to find police in the room with Cachay's dead body, according to multiple reports. He reportedly claimed he had been out getting drinks with a man he met in the lobby.
Friends of Nicholas Brooks, 24, who Cachay had dated, said that the scion had a history of drinking and drug abuse. He'd lived on the Upper East Side after attending the University of Colorado.
A friend of Cachay's in the fashion business said she knew the designer had a boyfriend, but had never met him before. The friend, who did not want to be identified, said she was shocked by Cachay's death.
"I'm horrified about it," she said. "She was super sweet...A nice, dynamic person."
Brooks was being questioned at the 6th Precinct house in Greenwich Village throughout the day Thursday.
Joseph Brooks, 71, earned accolades with his Academy Award-winning song, "You Light Up My Life," but in recent years had been embroiled in legal and criminal woes. The elder brooks was indicted in 2009 on charges he sexually assaulted 11 aspiring actresses under the guise of bringing them in for casting calls. He is currently awaiting trial on $1.25 million bail, according to reports.
SoHo House, at 29 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District, is a private members club that has 24 rooms and features a spa, a rooftop deck, and heated rooftop pool. A rep for SoHo House declined to comment.
Amoy Chambers, who was leaving a party at the exclusive club Thursday night, said she and her friends were anxious about being at SoHo House after hearing about Cachay's death.
"It’s frightening because I understand she was a young woman — that could have been one of us," said Chambers, who said she was close in age to Cachay.
But Betsy Fielder, 31, wo was also there for a party, seemed unperturbed by the news.
"It’s the SoHo House, they’ll make it through anything," she said, adding, "You would never know anything had happened."
Vincent Trivett and Alissa Ambrose contributed reporting.