I have never been involved in anything like this before. I did not understand how the judicial system worked and I was having a hard time believing that the legal system moved sooooo slow. We were dealing with theft, trespassing, and vandalism, making no progress and getting no answers from anyone. I realize now that I watch too much “Dateline”. They find their story, investigate, go to trial, get a verdict and then do follow up, all in two hours. WOW!
I knew I could take this matter to civil court, but that would be more expense on Mary Grace, so I really wanted the District Attorney’s office to go forward with this and protect its citizen! I felt it best at this time to get the counsel of someone outside the area and we did just that. I had also been advised that maybe I should open John Brooks’ estate, so I needed more information on what that meant.
Monday, July 27, 2015
I met with an attorney who said that we had more evidence than 70% of his cases. But, I could be spending a lot of money and still not get the results I wanted. He advised that if I still wanted to pursue this case, to keep calling the Chief of Police and the District Attorney in Selma. He also suggested maybe I should count my losses, watch my back and go home.
I was advised as far as John Brooks’ estate was concerned there was no need to pursue opening the estate for the following reasons:
1. John Brooks had no will
2. His liabilities were more than his assets
3. The cost of opening an estate could cost around $1,500.00
4. Estates are usually opened if there are assets or if there is money to be made after the death. (For example, Elvis Presley’s estate still generates income.) I couldn’t have foreseen the popularity the pod cast would create for John Brooks memorabilia.
I guess this is as good of time as any to discuss the financial part of this puzzle. The only thing in John Brooks’ name was two vehicles, which were now missing. The land John Brooks promised Tyler was in Mary Grace’s name and never belonged to him. The mail was now helping with the puzzle providing much needed information and I found out that John Brooks was deeply in debt.
The name I found on that 3×5 card when cleaning the kitchen led me to copies of Investments statements and tax returns. John Brooks had been living off Mary Grace for years. Yes, he could have made good money when he worked but, his clock business was years prior and there were no records of him earning any income for some time. The stocks that Mary Grace’s father had left her to live on were gone.
When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s John Brooks transferred all the stocks in to his name. The remaining stocks were liquidated June 14, 2014. I also found calendars from 2008 through 2015 that had notes about how much he spent on dog food; examples: 11-3-08 $140.00, 11-23-08 $220.00, 1-3-09 $120.00, 1-4-09 $90.00, 1-23-09 $320.00, 1-25-09 48.00. I think you get the picture. John Brooks told me years ago he spent approximately $6,000 a year on the dogs.
I have other stories people shared with me about his financial situation. And they are just that; their stories and I will not share them. You also have to consider the cost of labor, he was helping friends with their legal expenses, materials for the house, at some point Mary Grace started getting meals on wheels, medicine, doctor bills (within a short period she had broken both hips), utilities, tattoos, piercings, booze, toys, failed nursery business, building a maze (at least $60,000), large boulders that lined the drive and the list goes on and on and on.
This seems odd to me because John Brooks seemed very conscious of his spending, he knew down to the penny how much it cost to drive his car and mow the grass. He told me he only had the grass cut four times a year by a lawn guy because it was cheaper. Every time I had the grass cut at the house it was $225.00.
What breaks my heart is Mary Grace thinks she still has money. She will be quick to let you know her father left her well off (and that is true) and she would never have to worry about money. Several times recently, Mary Grace has told me, “Reta, you know you are the only family I have, and you need to take me to Birmingham to Mr. Lee’s office, so I can sign my investments over to you.” Even though I know the real story, it makes me feel good she wants to take care of me, but, most of all it helps ease the guilt of having to sell her house to have the finances to take care of her.
I can’t seem to share the same feelings for John Brooks that most of you have. Was he a genius? Yes. Was he troubled? Yes. Did he bring a lot of this on himself? Sure. Does it make him selfish for leaving his mother in this financial situation? I think so. I hope you can understand why I was so angry with the situation we were in, fighting to keep Mary Graces’ estate intact. As far as I am concerned, Mary Grace was getting robbed for the second time, first by her son and then it appeared by Tyler as he helped himself to her property.
I needed to go home, and I did on Wednesday July 29, 2015
OK-Let’s keep talking,