Running, Running and getting nowhere!!!

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,



Saturday July 25, 2015

As the guardian/conservator one of my duties was to take inventory of all the items inside and outside of the house. I already started with things in the house that we took to the dump (clothes, sheets, beds, pots, pans, carpet, etc.). Now it was time to record items we had taken to storage. My cousins from Texas came back once again to help. We started early Saturday morning at the storage unit. When we left we drove by Tyler’s Grandmothers house, so they could see the trailer and buses. Tyler was there taking some lumber from the trailer and loading it on top of his truck. We turned around and took some more pictures as a record. I felt that until this property (which was stored on the trailer) was proven to be Tyler’s, it should not be messed with. I know what you are saying: weren’t you doing the same thing?? Well, NO.
1. I had been legally granted guardianship over Mary Grace and her estate
2. I moved items to storage to protect them. I was told to secure the property
3. Anything that was sold belonged to Mary Grace and she would receive the money. So far the only thing I considered selling was the piano
4. I did not trespass to get these items

Meantime, Charlie who was not with us got a call from the caregiver staying at our house in Florida. Tyler had just called our house phone and said “If you do not stop riding by my house I am going to fill your ass with buckshot” when she asked, “who is this?” he hung up. I think he meant to call our cell phone. We met up with Charlie and went straight to the police station. As soon as we walked in (we didn’t even have time to say hello) Officer Lightsey started unloading on us, “I just got a call from Tyler–y’all have got to stop harassing him.” My response was “You have got to be kidding me–Tyler can go over to Mary Graces’ and steal her s—, but I can’t ride down a public road????” He told me I was taking this too far and it was getting out of control. He told me Tyler was on his way there to pay his bond for the trespassing charge and would be cleared to leave. We asked how Tyler was getting away with this?? He said Tyler had bills of sales which I reminded him were bogus. I also told him that the Judge had told Tyler not to go on the property without my permission. Officer Lightsey replied “I did not hear the Judge tell him that.” Really??? Maybe I should have said: Well, maybe you should call and talk to the Town attorney because he did. At one-point Officer Lightsey told me “Lady you need to back off” and he also asked me not to raise my voice at him. I apologized to him for getting so worked up and told him he would not see me at the police station again and we left.

I guess this is a good time to reply to a question from discussion group: You noticed that I raised my voice on the podcast and wondered why. Well, you are right, I do that when I feel I can’t get my point across, when I am nervous, when I get excited and when I feel that I am being misunderstood. So I guess you can say I have been talking with an evaluated voice for the last couple of years since all this started.

Ok—Let’s keep talking


On the road again…

Wednesday July 22, 2015

After the call Tuesday, Charlie and I knew we had to return to Alabama to check on things. We packed Tuesday night and left early Wednesday morning. Around noon we received a call from a witness and were informed Tyler was now hauling off the trailer and blue bus.

I called Judge Pow for guidance, and he said stealing was unlawful and advised me to file a warrant for arrest in Circuit Court. I had copies of Tyler’s bill of sale for the three items, though I suspected they were bogus, however I had not been able to prove it, but it was just a matter of time. I called the owner of the business where John Brooks purchased the trailer. He remembered the trailer and what a hard time they had getting it onto the property. This was 2015, and he said John had purchased it seven or eight years prior, which would be around 2007 or 2008. (John’s friend had told me 1999, at this point it really does not matter we know it was on the property in 2010) Tyler’s bill of sale was dated Jan. 24, 2013. I sent the business owner a copy of Tyler’s bill of sale, and he verified that it was not from his company. It had no signature. He assured me that nothing leaves his lot without a signature on the invoice. Chief Price did verify this information as well. We also had a Google Map photo of the trailer and buses on the property in 2010 proving once again John Brooks was the rightful owner.

The invoices for the yellow and blue buses provided by Tyler were dated April 21, 2013. The owner of the company told police that Tyler said he needed a bill of sale, so the business owner told Tyler to fill out the paperwork and he would sign it. This business where Tyler said he purchased the buses were entirely different from where John Brooks actually purchased the buses. (not that it matters) We stopped by the police department when we arrived in Woodstock, but no one was there. So, we rode over to Tyler’s grandmother’s house and took pictures of the three vehicles.

Next, we headed to Mary Grace’s property to take pictures and record the destruction to the property. See below:


Fruit tree and yard

Fruit tree

John’s shop railing

Platform where buses were

beside platform

The next morning, we went to the courthouse in Centreville to file the warrant. They said we would have to go though the Woodstock Police or the Sheriff’s Office. We opted for the Sheriff’s Office and were able to talk to the late Sheriff Keith Hanna (RIP). We shared our story and explained how every road had led to a dead end. He said, “Seems like this boy should have stayed home that day.”He called Chief Price to let him know we were on our way to his office to file a warrant against Tyler for trespassing. We gave Chief Price all the information and pictures we had gathered as proof. He happened to be meeting with the assistant district attorney that afternoon and said he would try to get approval for a warrant.

It was at this time Chief Price told us he had seen Tyler go by with the trailer and bus but was on a call at the time. Maybe it is just me, but I thought he should have at least called Tyler and asked what in the heck was he doing. He knew the judge had told Tyler not to go on the property, and the bills of sale had not been proved legitimate. John Brooks had used the buses and trailer to store some of his personal items so we asked what would happen to the property being stored in the vehicles, to me this needed to be settled. No one seemed to know the answer. Again, really? The law does not make clear what to do with stolen goods? Needless to say, when we left we put up a gate to the entrance of the property. I wondered if that’s why those people at the funeral offered to put up a gate. I was too naive.

A family member was interested in buying the piano that was still in the living/family room. So, Friday morning I met with an appraiser from Birmingham. The piano was something I needed to get rid of; it would bring in some cash for Mary Grace’s care, and I could not move it to storage. I picked up Mary Grace’s medicine and went to Attorney Downs office to make an appointment for Monday. I also went by the police station twice. No one was there. Then my life support arrived from Texas.

Friday was another busy day, nothing too bad. But hold on, tomorrow is another story.

Ok. Let’s keep talking.

Home Sweet Home

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Well, that was short-lived. On the eighth day home around 4:30 p.m, I received a call from my niece. She was checking on Mary Grace’s house for me and found someone had gone in through the back door, busted into John Brooks’ shop and the shop door was still wide open. I told her to call 911 and to let me know what happened. She did, and the 911 operator told her that Woodstock Police could not respond because they had a lot of calls. She waited there until she got a call from none other than Officer Lightsey. He asked her what was missing, and she told him she did not know because she did not know what was there originally. She explained how she found the property when she arrived. He told her the property owner was responsible for calling the police. (Does this mean if you see someone’s house burning down you should wait and have the homeowner call?) For all they knew, the perpetrator could still have been there. Whenever you were at the house, you never knew whether someone was hiding in the woods watching you.

My niece explained that her Aunt Reta was in Florida and asked her to check on the property. Officer Lightsey then asked, “Where is Mary Grace?” She said, “I guess in Florida with Aunt Reta.” He did not come to the property and, as far as I know, never filed a report. I asked her to remove all the light bulbs and to secure the shop door the best she could.

On Tuesday we got the call about Tyler hauling off the yellow bus. The person who called saw him leading the way for the wrecker service. Charlie called Attorney Downs for counsel and was told once again to secure the property. (They made that sound so easy.) He did say he was going to call City Hall to make sure that Officer Lightsey filed a report about my niece’s call on Sunday.

Meanwhile, I called the assistant district attorney in Centerville and was told, in so many words, that “Bibb County had bigger fish to fry.” I asked for suggestions on how to stop this from happening and was told that if they knew the answer to that, it would solve a lot of problems. I am not stupid. I understand this was small beans to the police. But it was MY BEANS, and I thought everyone deserved to be protected by the law. Come on, help me build a case here, file a report, do something, please!

We took the next step in securing the property: We hired an off-duty police officer. Guess what? On his way to the property, he had to respond to a call and never made it to Mary Grace’s. Something else that bothers me, is whether it was a just coincidence that after Officer Lightsey found out I was in Florida, his good friend Tyler just happened to start hauling items off the property. Just saying.

Ok. Let’s keep talking,

Guardianship Hearing

Friday, July 10 2015

My cousin from Texas stayed with Mary Grace while we attended the guardianship hearing. I did not know what to expect, so I was nervous. There were four family members present representing Mary Grace: Charlie, me, her first cousin, and her husband as well as Attorney Downs. It actually ended up being simple, quick, and painless, and guardianship was granted to me.

Prior to the hearing Brian Reed approached us outside and introduced himself, explaining he worked for “This American Life” radio program and podcast in New York and was doing a story on John Brooks. I believe the first thing I asked was whether he had John Brooks’ permission (little did I know…). He asked if I would be willing to give an interview after the hearing and I said, “Sure.” He then followed us in, and we just stood and exchanged small-talk. I was surprised to see Tyler there; I figured he wanted to talk to the judge about custody of Mary Grace. My cousin went in and talked to Judge Pow about the reporter and Tyler. Judge Pow told her that Brian was not allowed because it was a private hearing and that normally Tyler would not be allowed, but he thought Tyler needed to hear what he, the Judge, had to say. I don’t know, but it seemed that Tyler might already have spoken to the judge.

I remember asking Brian why in the world he would come all the way from New York to report on this situation. I had no idea he had been working with John Brooks for years prior. I also remember asking him about the gold. By the way, that was a joke. Like I mentioned before, I did not believe there was any gold. Well, maybe a little in the freezer, but none buried on the property.

What people who aren’t friends or family don’t know about me is I have a very dry sense of humor. People can’t really tell when I am joking or serious. I had a boss tell me once, “Reta, I have never known anyone like you. You can tell someone to go to Hell, and they would look forward to the trip.” I am blunt and to the point, but, of course, in a nice way.

So, we entered the judge’s office, and I know it is hard to believe, but Tyler and I sat on the same sofa. (LOL). I immediately spoke up and asked why Tyler was there. Was he there to try to get Mary Grace? The judge explained that Tyler was concerned about his items on the property. Judge Pow stated, “My advice to anyone is: If someone gives you something (say Aunt Betsy gave you a bedroom suite), you need to take it home with you. After I sign this paper, Reta will be in charge of Mary Grace and her estate. You may not go on the property without her permission.” Tyler said, “So she can sell my stuff before I get an attorney?” The judge stated, “I feel this lady is willing to work with you.” Then Tyler was dismissed. The judge went over what it meant to be a guardian and other legal procedures.

Afterwards, I realized I was running short on time, so I had to decline the interview with Brian. We had to get Mary Grace some lunch, pack her things, and get her settled in her new residence. And finally, I was getting to go home. After more than three weeks living in a hotel and eating most meals out. I felt like I needed a sign that read: “To Florida or Bust.” We left Saturday morning for home.

Ok. Let’s keep talking.

We are on a new mission!

Mary Grace out of the hospital. Check.
John Brooks buried. Check.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Now it was time to concentrate on the property. At the time, we were not sure what all was in the house. We just knew someone was still coming on the property to look, take, and vandalize. A total of 10 dogs had been picked up at a cost of $60, so now we could start trying to control the fleas.

To refresh your memory, the grass was high; the yard and house were inundated with fleas; pots on the stove still had food in them from the night John Brooks died; there were rats in the basement; clothes in the washer were standing in water and the house was hot, disgustingly dirty, and reeked. You know it is bad when you would rather use the outside bathroom than the inside bathroom. Our team consisted of Charlie and me, my cousin from Texas and her husband, and Mary Grace’s first cousin and her husband.

Our focus at the time was to move items from the property into storage. The men started in John Brooks’ shop. I knew his toolboxes and tools were probably the most valuable and most likely to be stolen next. I knew who John had purchased the items from, and I later had him come to storage to give an appraisal. They also had to remove the carpet from the two bedrooms because of fleas. The ladies met Mary Grace at her doctor’s office for her appointment and to Attorney Down’s law office to settle her guardianship. (Since I was only Mary Grace’s 2nd cousin her first cousins had to sign over permanent guardianship.)

We retuned Mary Grace to her caregiver and then joined the men at the house to start packing. My cousin and I worked in the kitchen for hours cleaning up and cleaning out (mostly cleaning out). When we pulled the microwave out from the wall, a handful of 3×5 sheets of paper fell to the counter. Written on them were things like: “Turn the lights off,” “Water the plants,” “Feed the dogs.” One said, “Mail the taxes to with an address. Good thing I decided to save that one because it became very helpful in putting the puzzle together.

This turned out to be one of my better days because we were invited to a dear friend’s house for a home-cooked meal. The meal was so good that my cousin and I took Mary Grace back the next day for leftovers. It was here I learned about a lady who was a caregiver and took patients into her home.

I talked with the caregiver the very next day, and she told me she had decided to retire and had no one living with her at the time. I begged her to please consider taking Mary Grace on a two-week trial so I could continue handling matters that needed to be dealt with. She agreed and came to meet Mary Grace the next day. I cannot express what a blessing this was and still is. They immediately formed a bond and as a matter of fact, Mary Grace wanted to go home with her that day. She also had lost a son to suicide, so they had that in common.

In the meantime, a lady from Mary Grace’s church got in touch with me. She said she needed to talk to me about something she had that belonged to Mary Grace. My cousin and I went to her home that afternoon. Now, remember, we are in a very small town with friendly and caring people (for the most part), so when you went to someone’s home, you were invited in for a glass of “sweet tea” and long conversation. We got loads of information from her, her husband, and a friend of John Brooks.

First, she had a diamond ring that Mary Grace had given her years ago. She said Mary Grace asked her to hold on to it because John Brooks would sell it if he found it. Here is what else we learned:
• John Brooks purchased the trailer in 1999
• He purchased the yellow bus from a neighbor we ended up talking to
• He purchased the blue bus from someone in South Alabama
• The French clock everyone thought was so valuable was purchased from a salvage place for less than $100 (if my memory serves correctly) The clock had never been repaired.
• He purchased his F350 truck originally from Tyler

By the way, the ring was not real. I guess John Brooks had already found it. I took it to a jeweler who told me someone had messed with the prongs suggesting the real diamond had been exchanged for a fake one. I want to say how much I appreciate the lady telling me about the ring. I realize she did not have to.

Faye called to tell me she had been contacted by two guys who told her John Brooks’ had guns located in his computer stand and the gold was in the house. Right. Just like the diamond ring was real. Needless to say, no guns or gold were found. It seems that someone had already taken them. The gold was never a big concern for me, because at this point, I did not believe there was any gold.

OK. Let’s keep talking.


Let’s step back, take a deep breath, and regroup

Thursday, July 2, 2015
Home Healthcare made its first visit to see Mary Grace in her new residence. Charlie returned to Alabama in time for our first sit-down meeting with Attorney Downs. Here is what we learned:

• Attorney Downs had worked with John Brooks on a will, but he never signed and returned it to him.
• Mary Grace had a will leaving everything to John Brooks and since John Brooks passed first, Mary Grace’s estate would go to the next of kin, which would be her first
• Attorney Downs thinks their brokerage accounts had been liquidated in 2008, and it was “rumored” that John Brooks was putting money into gold and nickel.
• Attorney Downs said he would call Tyler and have him return any items he was not entitled to: keys, mail, laptop, cell phone, etc.
• Attorney Downs gave me a phone number for the county dog catcher; we knew the house could not be treated for fleas until all the dogs were gone. I had called a vet in
Centerville and several other places, with no luck.

The only advice Attorney Downs could offer about the trespassing was to secure the property. How do you secure 128 acres of property located off the main road back in the woods? Especially when some of the police officers are not taking you seriously? I had a lady tell me she saw someone on a motorcycle go under the police tape onto the property. She said she called 911 and was told that it was okay since it was Tyler, because he was a friend of John Brooks. REALLY?! Believe me, it gets worse.

Now, I have to say, there could have been others trespassing, especially because of all the rumors of the buried gold, but we only knew about Tyler and of course he confirmed it in the podcast interviews. We did know someone was going onto the property. They started playing games with us: leaving lights on, partaking in vandalism, even leaving a rubber snake coiled up by the front door. One time we got there and unlocked our padlock only to discover that the door would not open. Someone had gotten in the back door and put a padlock on the inside. REALLY? Didn’t I hear someone say, “Mama, we love you. We will take care of you (as long as you play by our rules)”? While all this was going on we also found out that the district attorney was not going to file a warrant on Cami for taking the mail. WOW! AGAIN, REALLY?

The rest of the week and weekend were pretty uneventful. But, beware, Monday was a different story.

Monday, July 6, 2015
We picked up Mary Grace, stopped by the post office, then headed to Attorney Down’s office for an update. Charlie and Mary Grace waited in the car and Attorney Downs called Tyler while I was there to ask about the items he had in his possession. Surprisingly it was just a minute before Tyler walked in. We said our good mornings, then he started complaining that no one cared about him or his feelings. I told him it had been hard on everyone, but my priorities had been to get John Brooks buried and to take care of Mary Grace. I told him I wanted him to get everything that was his, but that would probably be decided by a judge. Attorney Downs asked him what was in the mail that Cami picked up. He said toys for his kids. (I was informed he previously had told someone it was ink for his tattoo business.)

Tyler told us John Brooks did not have a cell phone, so the text he received the night of his death came from John Brooks’ computer. (The one that said he could have everything. The one sent right before John Brooks told Faye that Tyler’s things were on the porch/shop in a bag.) He said John Brooks had a cheap billfold but didn’t carry it very much. (I would take that to mean it was probably in his bedroom—NOT.) Tyler also said John Brooks cashed out all his stocks and he believed money was buried all over the land. Maybe in the maze.
Here are some pictures taken in 2011–this was the first time I saw the maze.

Oh, and did I mention that the church pew we were sitting on was now missing? I know the neighbor that gave it to Mary Grace, I hope he was the one that got it.

Tyler gave us a list of everything he claimed was his and wanted back. (The list far exceeded what John Brooks had told Faye) and personally, I think it was printed off John Brooks’ laptop. According to the podcast, John Brooks kept great records. Come on, if all that Tyler claimed really was his, John Brooks would not have been able to do any work on the property. I wondered how John built a maze with no wheelbarrow, ladders, picks, shovels, gloves, extension cords and toolboxes. Other things included on Tyler’s list were glass jars, a copper teapot. Really? Oh, yes, there was much, much more! By the way, there were some things Tyler had the opportunity to get but didn’t, like his kid’s clothes. I personally packed four large trash bags and left them on the porch. His kids would have looked so cute in them. They had been on the floor of John Brooks’ shop by a dryer.

OK, back to the story. Low and behold, Mary Grace and Charlie walked in to Attorney Down’s office. Knowing Mary Grace, she was probably wondering what was taking me so long or maybe she saw Tyler come in. Tyler said, “Hi, Mama, how are you doing?” She replied, “Fine.” Tyler said, “Mama, I was thinking about you. We made you some banana pudding.” Mary Grace stayed silent. Tyler then mentioned to me that he had some things of John Brooks’ that could help us if we would help him. We asked him what could he possibly have that would help us, then we got up and left. As we were leaving Tyler said, “Mama.” And that is when Mary Grace said, “Don’t call me ‘Mama.’ I ain’t your Mama.”

When we got in the car, Mary Grace asked if she needed to go home and protect her property? I told her we were taking care of it. She said, “Don’t guess he wanted me to have any of the banana pudding. He didn’t bring me any.”

I can’t remember if it was this time or another time we left Attorney Downs office but at one point: Officer Lightsey, Tyler’s friend, stopped us in the parking lot and showed us a bill of sale for John Brooks’ truck that was taken off Mary Grace’s property. It was dated April 17, 2015, for $500, had not been notarized and I believed it was bogus. I asked him why Tyler had not put the vehicle in his name, and he said he tried but that the paperwork was returned to the tag office for corrections. He said the paperwork had been corrected and Tyler should have a title in a few days, which I later proved was a lie.

Other stops that day included Mary Grace’s doctor to drop off paperwork I needed for the guardianship hearing and to the ADA office where I hoped to talk face to face with someone that might could give me some in slight to all this chaos. (both places were closed)

The best part of the week was when my cousin, sorry, double first cousin, and her husband came to our rescue all the way from Texas. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

OK, let’s keep talking.


Where do we go from here?

On Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Charlie needed to check on Papa, cut the grass, and get the new caregiver set up so he left for home.

I was with Mary Grace until someone came to stay with her so I could run a few errands. I went to file a police report about the many missing items from the house and talked to Police Chief Price about John Brooks’ missing vehicles. He said he would check for me but of course did not know where they were.

I then learned from Chief Price the post office personnel had identified Cami as the person who picked up the mail the previous Friday. Chief Price said Officer Lightsey would work up a warrant on Wednesday for Cami’s arrest. Please understand the mail was an important piece of putting this puzzle together.

I was able to find out what insurance company John Brooks used and went there to get the vehicle identification numbers. I learned the insurance on the Mercedes had been cancelled months ago, and I cancelled insurance on the truck. Later that day, I was told by a friend that John Brooks vehicles had been spotted at Tyler’s grandmother’s house, so I actually drove by there to see for myself, and sure enough they were.

While all this is going on I also had one more thing on my plate: trying to get renters out of our Woodstock house, located down the road from where Mary Grace was staying, so I also paid them a visit. (Needless to say I was stressed and busy)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I stayed with Mary Grace, and we drove to Centreville to get copies of property deeds and maps. I was glad to find out that the property was still in her name. Of course, if it had not been, it still would belong to her since she was John Brooks only heir.

A representative from DHRS came to see Mary Grace later that day to inspect her current living conditions. He also needed to visit her home, so I took him and Mary Grace to the house “in the woods.” Mary Grace did not mention wanting to get out of the car and go in, and after being greeted by all the dogs, He also opted out. Satisfied he reported everything was good and he could tell we had Mary Grace’s best interest in mind.

When I told Mary Grace the house had fleas, she remarked, “I don’t doubt it with all the dogs.” Her healthcare providers told me Mary Grace would have fleas on her and once had a tick. They shared more stories that would break your heart. On one visit Mary Grace was found sitting on the porch eating pudding with her fingers. I assume John Brooks had the kitchen locked, as I recall it was locked when we got there. I guess she had the pudding in her bedroom and he most likely kept snacks in there for her. I believe the kitchen was probably locked so Mary Grace would not see the whiskey bottles and of course for her safety. They also reported in the winter her feet would be so cold they would not be able to wash them. So sad.

Mary Grace never mentions going back home, never asks about the house or the dogs, and never asks to go to the cemetery. I took her to the cemetery a few days after the burial, but she did not get out of the car. We ask her every so often, and she says, “There is nothing I can do there, no need to go.” After I was financially able to buy John’s headstone, I showed her pictures and she said “I really appreciate you getting that and I know John Brooks would too”.

What bothers Mary Grace the most is the fact that John Brooks committed suicide. She says, “I don’t understand why he didn’t want to live. I told him every day how much I loved him.” When she was in the hospital, she remarked, “If I knew John Brooks didn’t want to live, I would have hogtied him and got him help.” Once when I was with her, she told me the doctor told her there was nothing she could have done, once he had made up his mind. She will remark now and then, I would not bring John Brooks back because he would just do it again.

Wow, I can go all over the place with this story. John Brooks said to me years ago that as soon as something happened to his mom, he had a bullet with his name on it. I am attaching the email to that effect.


I have always heard that the people who talk about suicide will not follow through. Well, that theory does not hold water.

At the end, I will share my thoughts on what I think happened the night of June 22, 2015.

Ok–Let’s keep talking!



Monday, June 29, 2015

The day started off by getting Mary Grace ready for the service scheduled for 11AM.

We took her to the funeral home to visit with John for the last time.  Present was: the couple she was staying with, Charlie, me and Faye Gamble, who was a friend of John’s and the City of Woodstock Town Clerk.

What a sad moment, Mary Grace sat by the coffin rubbing John’s chest and talking to him.  We then followed the Hearst to the grave-site.  Mary Grace was very alert, commenting on her outside surroundings.  When we pulled up at the cemetery I remember thinking how pleased I was that there was a good turnout.  There were family,  neighbors and friends.  Several were people I had spoken to on the phone but never met personally.  Tyler met Mary Grace at the car and gave her a 8X10 picture of John when he was a little boy. (I wish I had ask him where he got it.) When we were leaving I asked Mary Grace about the picture and she said it had been in her bedroom.   It was thoughtful of him to think about her. 

I recognized Tyler, Cami (Tyler’s girlfriend) and Jake (Tyler’s brother) but no one else in Tyler’s circle.  I can’t remember at what point I learned that Tyler’s mom was Mia Hicks.  I coached Mia in softball when she was younger. Well, we both were younger. LOL  I would have certainly spoke to her if I had known who she was.  She was a good kid and talented ball player.

Mary Grace had ask for Reverend Ben Corley to officiate the service. Even though he was the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock for many years, he was more like the community Pastor, loved and admired by everyone.  As always he did a great job.  Mary Grace has mentioned more than once she was so pleased. She stated “Bro Corley can speak in a manner that makes you forget about your grief”. (More about the service when I review the podcast)

With the conclusion, came the time for long overdue visits. Everyone was coming up to Mary Grace giving their condolences. I had two different people tell me that they would be happy to put up a gate at the entrance of the property. I told them that I appreciated it but really did not see the need.  After Tyler’s visit to the property on Wednesday night, I thought the trespassing situation was over.  I really had no hard feeling with Tyler.  I didn’t trust him, but I figured since he had been warned by the police we could sit down and work everything out.  At this point I had not sat down and talked to Attorney Downs. There were still so many unanswered questions.  I had a guardianship hearing on July 10th.

I realized that Mary Grace had been out in the heat too long–it was time to leave.  Tyler was speaking with her when I walked up–he said “Sorry Mama, they won’t let me talk to you”.  My reply was “Tyler I don’t know who you have been talking to but, you have the wrong impression of me”.

Just as we got Mary Grace settled in the car, Tyler walked up and showed her a child’s book. He told her that John had given the book to him to read to his kids and ask if he could keep it.  Mary Grace replied: “If John gave it to you then he must have wanted you to have it.”  ( Now I think he was just asking her permission to throw us off)  He took everything else he wanted without permission.

A family member then walked up to me and told me I needed to tell the director to ask everyone (sitting around the coffin) to leave so they could lower the coffin and fill the grave.   I did, and as we were walking back to the car I remembered THE NIPPLE RINGS. I walked back and ask the director about the rings and he stated something about the hooks and the rings could not be removed.   SO MY FRIENDS–THAT WAS THAT

Mary Grace and the family she was staying with were members of the same church and the ladies of that church had prepared a delicious meal for us. (You just can’t say enough about Southern Hospitality) After lunch Charlie went back to Mary Grace’s house and noticed more items missing.

Facts that we know so far:

There was only $ 98.69 in the checking account shared by Mary Grace and John Brooks.

I knew at one time that Mary Grace had money in the stock market.  Uncle Brooks was the one that dealt in stocks and left Mary Grace well provided for at the time of his death.  (I did not know who their broker was or their accountant.)

I knew that John also dealt in the stock market, he discussed it with me and Charlie every time we talked because he knew we also had money in the stock market.

John did not have a will 

I was told there was no money found for the dogs and no gold found in the freezer.     REALLY??????

I just have to mention this now:  I was surprised that John Brooks gave Faye instructions for the care of the dogs but did not mention care for his mother.

I did not know at this time, (It seemed that everyone else but me knew) there might be gold hidden on the property.

I still had not heard of Brian Reed or even knew he was at the service.

I did not know about the podcast.

I still did not know how Tyler fit into this picture   (only that Tyler worked for John Brooks.)

Did not know what had happened to the vehicles.


OK,  Let’s keep talking


Let’s get Mary Grace out of the hospital and prepared for John’s burial

First thing we had to do on Friday 6/26 was purchase Mary Grace some clothes and buy socks, underwear, etc for John Brooks.
(Since I have had a lot of experience dealing with funeral homes) I can’t help but invision passing by one day and there be a YARD SALE sign outside. You know selling the items that never make it in the coffin. Socks, underwear, shoes, pants, jewelry, etc. Nothing personal to anyone employed by the funeral home (I have no proof of this), I just feel that they catch you in a very gullible state of mind. They wanted $75.00 for a guest book when John Brooks died. I went to Wal-mart and purchased one for less than $5.00. I remember when my Sister passed and there was a $150.00 charge for the flower truck, she had requested no flowers so was able to get them to remove that charge. I worked for a Automobile Dealership Group for 22 years so I know a thing or two about sales.

OK, back to story:

We left the funeral home and headed to Greenpond to check the mail. This is the first time I had even thought about the mail. I was hoping there would be something in the mail to help solve this puzzle. Anyway, I went in the post office with a copy of temporary guardianship and requested the mail. I explained that I was John Brooks’s cousin from Florida. The postmaster looked confused and told me that someone had already picked up John Brooks mail and claimed to be the cousin from Florida. I then filled out the necessary paperwork so this could not happen again -from then on I was the only one that could get the mail. Since I did not have the box key, I had to change the lock at a cost $31.98. I went straight to the Town Hall to try to fill out a police report but, no one was there so I picked up the original guardian paperwork.

We had to get to the hospital to meet the DHRS . After his interview with me, Social Workers and Mary Grace he approved her release. As you might know that does not mean you get up right then and go home. We waited on Doctors last visit, writing of new prescriptions, instructions for home care and of course final discharge paperwork.

We got back to Woodstock in time to pick up medication for Mary Grace and take her to dinner. We got her room set up and I helped get her ready for bed. She wore her new pajamas-for the first and last time. After that night Mary Grace insisted sleeping in her clothes. No matter what we did she will not take off her clothes for bed. I even purchased her a camisole to wear as a undershirt–she would not let me take off her blouse. Her caregiver and I have discussed this at length–maybe she does not want to take time to dress in the morning, maybe she has not worn pajamas in so long?? We just don’t know. Another thing, she will not sit on a stool in the shower or tub. (she is given a sponge bath) Makes us wonder if something happened to make her afraid of the water. Guess we will never know.

Saturday and Sunday was spent getting Mary Grace ready for the service on Monday. She was taken for her first pedicure. (see pictures below) The purpose was not like most of us: to have our feet pampered and toes polished but to get her feet clean and nails cut. She was so cute–the guy taking care of her did not speak English well, so he would not answer her questions. She would tap him with her walking cane to get his attention. She told him “my nails are so long I could scratch the fleas off a chicken”. He also gave her a manicure but she would not let him polish her nails. Our friend’s daughter in law cut and styled her hair.104.jpg105

We had stopped by Lowe’s to purchase more locks for the house–so we went to Mary Grace’s house and replaced more of Tyler’s locks with ours. ( A lot of good that did)

We went to police station and filed a report about someone picking up the mail without authority. Seems the police had already gotten word. Officier Jerry Lightsey had a lineup printed out, and I identified Cami (Tyler’s girlfriend). Picking up someone’s mail may not sound like a big deal but, I consider it stealing and at that point I was looking for answers that might come in the mail.

On Sunday we met our friend for lunch and made the arrangements for her to go to Fl. and take care of Mr. Lawrence. We then went and purchased clothes for Mary Grace to wear Monday. Next Charlie and I visited a couple of places we could place Mary Grace for a few weeks until we could get all this mess settled. At this point, I was not going to let her go back home, even if I found someone to live with her. The living conditions were too bad and I still had to look into her financial situation. I could leave her where she was staying for now but, that was not fair to them, they both worked and I did not feel I could put that responsibility on them, especially long term.

When we got to Mary Grace’s, I bathed her and she tried on her new clothes.

OK-Let’s keep talking