Christmas pictures:
John’s Christmas pictures

Here are some pictures of John’s childhood–sorry they were all on one page–the one without John Brooks is my Grandparents, some are just Mary Grace, one of Mary Grace and Tom, one of John Brooks with Tom’s nephew Jimmy and yes, that is John dressed for Halloween.

Pics of John B. childhood

Someone requested more pictures of the property: here are some in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Property 2008
More 2008 property
Planting Maze 2009
Property 2010
Property 2012

Hope you enjoy the pictures and thanks again for reading.



I have written this post a thousand times in my mind, and believe me it never turned out like this.

My first thoughts were, there are no winners in this story. Well, maybe This American Life, and certainly Brian’s years of blood, sweat and tears that he put into this production is beyond amazing. The popularity of this podcast and the “Peabody awards says it all. Congratulations to them. I am sure there were times Brian Reed was asking, why me???

So, could John Brooks be the winner? At first, I would have answered no, but wait, maybe he has finally found the peace he so desperately searched for. Unknowingly to John Brooks, after his tragic death the story turned not only to his life but his death. This podcast gave us a look into the life of a extraordinary man, a man that might have realized this was his chance to not only ride into the sunset but, also have the last laugh. Just maybe he found his gold at the end of the rainbow.
Mary Grace once told me, ” as bad as I miss John Brooks, I would not bring him back because he would just do it all over again”

Is Tyler the winner? At first, I would have answered no, but wait, did he serve time for his illegal actions? No. Did he have to return any stolen items? No. Is he still giving interviews and getting the attention he wants? Yes. Did he get his new home after all? Yes. Did he benefit from “Go Fund Me” accounts? Yes. So, does that make Tyler the winner? I guess you would have to ask him.

Is Mary Grace the winner? At first, I would have answered no, but wait, she now lives in a comfortable place. A place where she does not have to worry about being too cold, too hot, or being hungry. She gets to go to the beauty salon and get her hair cut and styled, she gets to travel, and eat out. She gets to watch TV, and trust me she keeps up with what is going on in the world. ( She certainly enjoyed Prince Harry’s wedding.) She has gone to visitation when some of her friends have pasted. Her caregiver and I talk about her memory, I am sure she has some stage of dementia but, we believe most of her memory problems are just the aging process. So yes, maybe she in the winner.

Am I the winner? At first, I would have answered no, but wait, was I able to accomplish the things I set out to do, which was to protect Mary Grace and provide her better living conditions? Yes. Did this bring me closer to family, especially ones I had lost touch with? Yes. Do I still have a loving husband that I have been married to for 44 years? Yes. Do we both still have our good health? Yes. Not to say this situation did age me more than I would like to admit.
You know the saying: the things that don’t kill you only make you stronger. And, in the grand scheme of things: Any day above ground is a good day!

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog and maybe it has answered some of your concerns and questions.

OK- I have finished talking.


It has been requested that I share some more pictures, I plan to do this in a blog dated 7-9-18.


I have experienced so many emotions over the past few years: Grief, Anxiety, Regret, Embarrassment and yes even fear but, the one I am most ashamed of is anger. Anger is described by Google as: An intense negative emotion ranging from mild irritation to rage.

It is not uncommon to experience anger but, when anger becomes a part of your life it can become unhealthy. Anger has never been a huge factor in my life, I should say my emotion would be classified as the -mild irritation not rage. And maybe I am getting anger confused with disappointment and frustration. So much has happened since John Brooks pasted that I sometimes let anger get in the way of my blessings. I sometimes wonder what happened to me-where did that happy go lucky lady go? The lady that worked hard and planned for her retirement so she would be able to enjoy her senior years. The lady that enjoyed life and tried to find the good in bad situations. Then there was S-Town, I found myself in a place where I felt I was having to fight for everything I felt was right.

While writing this blog, I have had the best proof readers a blog writer could have. ( is that a proper sentence?) lol
One pointed out to me –some of your statements are really sharp–and that is OK if that is what you are going for. Well, it wasn’t so I tried to calm it down. I didn’t want to show my anger but, it was an emotion that I felt.

I was planning to address some of the questions and concerns that were mentioned on the discussion groups but, I decided against that. It is better for me not to get involved with the group discussions. There are many that will never understand my point of view. ( that is fine) Besides, whenever I try to explain they just chew me up and spit me out.Some people are like vicious animals waiting on their next meal, and when I comment it just feeds them. However, I will touch on a few topics that seemed to cause confusion.

John Brooks’ head stone: This is pretty simple, there was no money —and with the headstone that Tyler made meant that John did have his identity.

Burt’s buying the property: I would have to say, John Brooks did not have the same feelings that the podcast portrayed. I don’t believe John Brooks had any animosity against the Burt’s. John Brooks’ family and Kendall’s family (on his mother side) go way back. Kendall’s aunt and my aunt (Mary Grace’s first cousin) were best of friends since childhood and remained best friends until his aunt’s death. Once when my aunt was in Alabama with Kendall’s aunt, they decided to come to Florida for a visit. We had a great visit, one I will never forget. Kendall’s aunt was in Mary Grace’s wedding and Kendall’s Aunt and Mother were both at John Brooks’ burial service. I went to church with Kendall’s grandmother for years. John would often go to K3 Supply just to visit and shoot the bull with Kendall. When I was trying to find out the value of the lumber that was in the trailer and buses, I contacted Kendall about receipts for materials John purchased. It was at that time Kendall expressed interest in buying the property. I didn’t want to list the house with a realtor for several reasons so the Burt’s were the best fit. And it might interest you to know the last day John purchased materials from K3 Supply was on 6-16-2015, less than a week before his death, and you can add K3 Supply to the list of John’s debtors. Even to this day, Kendall’s mother and my aunt still talk frequently.

My connection to Tyler’s family: Some seem to think that I knew Tyler’s family from when I lived in Woodstock. I have been gone from Woodstock 33 years. I only knew Tyler’s mom when she was playing ball–it was around 1979 or 1980

I got a lot of criticism for selling Tyler’s kids toys–the toys that was in the dining room belonged to John Brooks. At one time, I saw a picture or video of a house John constructed with legos.

Guardian: I know someone ask, well, in the podcast Reta said she didn’t need this, Tyler could move in with Mary Grace and she would go back home. So why didn’t she just go back home? First of all, no one needs this. It is bad enough to lose a family member and at first it seemed that even Mary Grace was not going to cooperate with me. Then when Tyler went to the property the same night. I was not leaving Mary Grace, I guess you can say I came to my senses.

Blog: There are even a few that believe I am making money from this blog. Well maybe some people can or do but, I am not one of them, I wouldn’t even know how. After my nephew set up the blob, I had to pay a lady just to tutor me on how to use it. Believe me, it cost me money. If I can just get these last few posting published, I will never do this again. It is too stressful for someone my age.

My Comments: I will say, I thought I would have had more comments on this blog, people seemed to have so many questions —this was your chance to ask me and get your answers. I do hope that this blog gave you some insight to what I have being dealing with for the past 3 years and what it means to be a guardian of another person. Never sign up for this if you are not going to be totally committed and take this position every serious. You are not only trying to live your life but you are totally taking on the task of helping someone else live their life. I could not have done this without the help from my husband, family members and friends. Of course, it helps that Mary Grace has been so agreeable. I can’t express enough how blessed I am to be a part of her life. She always puts a smile on my face and makes everything I have been though worthwhile. As, I have said before, all I did then and do now is for her, every situation I had to deal with, I was seeing though her eyes. I will have to be honest here, I know this podcast was all about John Brooks and his life but, sometimes it makes me sad that the one who has lost the most, which was Mary Grace, has been overlooked. So many in this story were closer to John Brooks than his mother and I understand, but those who say they were best buddies with John Brooks hasn’t even taken the time to ask about his mother. (Just saying)

Thanks so much for reading. One more post and I will stop talking.


Podcast Conclusion

Chapter 5
My first recording with Brian Reed happened on November 3, 2015 after the second trespassing hearing and of course, I was upset and babbling. I cry when I am angry, upset, disappointed and tired. Got it, I was all the above!
Almost 5 months had passed since John Brooks’ death, so I had a lot of time to think about what might have brought this suicide on, or maybe I should say what may have caused it to occur at this time in his life. And it was in this interview I expressed to Brian some of my thoughts on what led up to the tragic night of June 22, 2015, which I shared in a previous post. Then I mentioned to Brian about trying to track down the gold. I thought if there was some way to track the gold, I could prove if any gold still or ever existed. If it had been registered, then there would be a record of it being cashed in. Of course, the bigger problem was finding out where John Brooks purchased the gold. This would help solve the mystery if the gold was possibly buried somewhere, then we could move forward. You can tell, at this point I was trying anything (and I know some ideas I had were way out there) but, this madness had to stop. Once I discovered John Brooks was broke and had liquidated the last of his funds on June 14, 2014, I never believed there was any gold buried. I couldn’t imagine he would have let the bank account balance get so low knowing there were outstanding checks and why did he incur so many over draft fees? Do I believe there was gold in the freezer along with cash like he told Faye? Of course! Do I believe someone took it? Of course, it just wouldn’t disappear.
I am also glad in this interview Brian made it clear that it was not decades since we visited with John Brooks and Mary Grace.
You can tell from my interview with Brian on January 18, 2016 that I am still searching for answers. I knew there had to be some connection with Tyler and the Police Department and I felt that connection was Officer Lightsey since he and Chief Price were the main two authorities I had been dealing with. Later in the podcast it mentions Officer Lightsey was looking forward to retirement because it was hard to choose between his friends and his job. DUH!!!! I would say so, especially when your job is to protect the citizens of your county. This chapter was so hard to listen to when you have someone who built a new home from stolen property then brags and laughs about it to the public and the law. Wonder what John Brooks would have thought of that? And I wonder if it was true about the police giving permission to Tyler to go on the property to get the trailer and buses. If so, maybe they have learned to include the City Attorney before making these decisions about probate matters.
The chapter then moves back to talking about the first meeting with Tyler at Mary Grace’s house. I have already covered this once but, let me reassure you, there was not an “all out fight”—no screaming and when Brian records me saying “absolutely” I have no idea where that came from but, you can bet I was not agreeing with what Tyler said.
I did get the chance to tell Brian that I feel this situation had brought out the worst in me. A person that has never had to fight (the law) for what was right –I was raised to believe that if you did what was right and fair, things would work out for the best. I thought everyone could be trusted and their word or hand shake was their honor. That is why I thought when the police ran Tyler off the property on June 24, 2015 the legal problems were over, that we would be able to sit down and work things out. Then I found out the vehicles have already been stolen, the cash and gold in the freezer had already been stolen as well. It makes you aware that sometimes you must take other measures to do the right thing. The right thing for me was to protect Mary Grace.

I don’t live in a bubble so to speak but, I guess my head was in the sand—I remember as a child or even an adult, when I did something wrong, I only had to be told once and I would not to do it again. You can bet I never smoked again after that one time my mother caught me smoking in my bedroom and I put the cigarette in the drawer and smoke started coming out!

The only other comment I have to say about this chapter: It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact people have taken a few words out of context, about cutting off nipples when in fact Tyler tricked a guy, (who he believed had stole his grandfather’s guns) to return to his house so he could cut off his fingers, one at a time until he returned the guns. Guess it was a good thing Tyler changed his mind and just ended up whipping the man across the face with the gun and beating him silly. There just seems like something is wrong with this picture. Just saying!!!

I would have to agree with John Brooks when he asked if he was expecting too much of Tyler. Maybe I feel that way too about others. I am so blessed to have been raised in a loving and caring home, even after I lost my Mom at age 11 there was plenty of others that stepped in and gave me guidance. That is not to say my life has always been easy, there were difficult times that affected me personally. But I will have to say, I believe that no matter what has come your way, at some point you must quit blaming others and take responsibility for your own decisions.
I am closing this chapter 5 with this bit of information.
In case there maybe some readers out there that would want to know the meaning of a criminal, well I Goggled it: A person who has committed a crime. Synonyms: lawbreaker, offender, villain, felon, wrongdoer, culprit and more.

Chapter 6-
This chapter introduced us to the John Brooks so many didn’t recognize, it was very revealing into John’s personal life. This just proves that we really do not know what is going on in a person’s private life. One day I was at the cemetery checking on my family’s graves and I saw a man walk up to John Brooks’ gravesite. I walked over and said ” Hi, you must have listened to the podcast”, then he replied, “yes I did”. I introduced myself and he said, ” I am Olin”. We stood in the heat and exchanged stories for what seemed like forever. He was a super nice guy and very interesting to talk to. So glad I got to meet him.

Chapter 7-
This chapter was an emotional roller coaster for me because so much was revealed about John Brooks. We are shown his accomplishments as a brilliant horologist only to find out later, the method John Brooks used could have been a contributing factor which lead to his death. Next we saw John Brooks in a state of peaceful happiness as he volunteered his time helping Woodstock City Hall. At one point you could feel the pride he had for his home place, the flowers, the creek and of course the maze. Next we saw the troubled John Brooks, the person that became addicted to pain, tattoos and whiskey, this was the John Brooks that so few people knew.
A couple of John’s friends had mentioned to me the change they noticed in him for the past 2 to 3 years prior to his death. They even mentioned the possibility of him suffering from Mad Hatters disease (mercury poisoning). They believe that is why John Brooks had gotten possessed with ordering toys like he had when he was a child. (marvels, bldg. blocks, puzzles, etc.)

This was a really “deep” summary of John Brooks life. I am leaving you with this quote from John Brooks:
“If someone says the name John Brooks McLemore 25 years in the future, you will know exactly who that is ”
We certainly will !!!!!

This is all I have concerning the podcast. Only two more post to go.

OK–Let’s keep talking


Podcast–Chapter 4

It has been a long time since I listened to the podcast so as I am writing this I am listening to it again which may cause me to jump around from one subject to the other. I have already touched on most of this before, so please be patient and if you want more detailed information refer to the referenced postings.

In the beginning of this chapter 4, John Brooks talks to Brian about his suicide note, and we learned John Brooks sent a copy of the note to City Hall and Attorney Downs. At this point I wondered why someone from either City Hall or Attorney Downs’ office did not mention this to me, I did not wish to see it but, maybe it could have answered some of the many questions everyone had. Also, I would have liked to know the date of this note just so we would know actually when John got serious about his suicide. We then hear Tyler telling Brian the things that were still on the property, the things he felt belonged to him. It was mentioned in this chapter that John Brooks wanted to leave Tyler and Jake a “shit pot of money”, that would have been nice only if John Brooks had a “shit pot of money”. I realized when this podcast was released no one knew the true story, John Brooks was broke, which also meant Mary Grace was broke.

The story then jumps to Friday the 10th of July, the guardianship hearing, and the first time I met Brian Reed. Since I have covered this previously there is no need to re-hash the meeting in detail. I guess you can say after this hearing is when Tyler stood by his prior statement: I will try to do things the right way, if that doesn’t work I will take matters into my own hands. Oh yes, it was at the hearing I asked Brian the question on everyone’s mind: Did John Brooks tell you where he hid his money (gold)? As I explained, this was meant to be a joke. I guess the joke was on me.

I loved the interview with Allen Beaden, a friend of John Brooks’ I could hear in his voice the love and respect he had for his knowledge about clocks and the grief he felt for the loss of a friend. I had the pleasure of later meeting Allen and experience these feelings first hand. I truly believed he went the extra mile to try to get the help John Brooks so desperately needed.

Next, the mystery surfaces about the contact list, the one John Brooks sent to Town Hall (along with his suicide note). It included the names of people to contact in case something happened to him. I can’t comment about this because I do not have the answers. I briefly saw the list on someone’s cell phone (on 9-26-15), I don’t have a copy and couldn’t even tell you who was on it. I guess I was so busy looking for my name, I didn’t really pay attention. I really do hate these people were not contacted, or maybe I should say, didn’t get Faye’s message-so they could have attended John’s funeral service. It would have meant a lot to Mary Grace and maybe it would have taken some attention away from the tension that was mounting. It makes me sad to listen to Brian’s interviews with John Brooks’ friends found on the list. What a great testimony to John.

The next part of this chapter implies I am trying to brain wash Mary Grace because at the informal meeting with Attorney Downs, Mary Grace told Tyler not to call her Mama. I do not know why she said that, I think I mentioned before, it could be because she just lost her only child and she did not appreciate anyone but John Brooks calling her Mama. The mind is a mystery, especially with someone with dementia, which is why we are so protective of Mary Grace.

In the last portion of this chapter the Nipple rings are mentioned as well as the many theories about the hidden gold came to life. I have already published a separate post on the rings–titled: Nipple-gate.

Ok–let’s keep talking


The Podcast–Funeral Service and more

This is a really difficult post to write because I feel that something so private and meaningful to Mary Grace as well as us “Cousins” has been violated by the podcast. This was all about the final good-byes to John Brooks and it gave others a chance to show sympathy to Mary Grace, conducted by one of the Godliest people I know, Reverend Ben Corley, who was requested to do the service by Mary Grace.

Brian’s words were something like this: Sad to see a life with such personality be remembered with so little, to honor him with a service so utterly devoid of him. WOW! I guess my reply to that would be: people need to realize, there were very few that knew the “real” John Brooks, including me. The main thing they knew was how brilliant and intelligent he was. I always believed funerals are as much if not more for the living than the dead, so my focus was to provide some peace for Mary Grace who had just lost her son. A son she saw everyday for over 49 years except for maybe a hand full. I will have to say, it helped when Brian said: “For the person that mattered most, which was Mary Grace, this service did seem to serve its purpose.” The podcast does mention that if Tyler had been in charge, this is a statement he would make. I love you man (John Brooks) but that doesn’t mean I’m trying to get up your butt. I would have hated for Mary Grace to hear that.

As I previously mentioned, when the time came to get Mary Grace out of the heat and back to the car, Tyler was talking with her. I did not hear any of their conversation. When I walked up to them to tell Mary Grace we needed to go, Tyler said “Sorry Mama they will not let me talk to you.” All I said was Tyler I do not know who you have been talking to but, you have the wrong impression of me. On the podcast Brian mentioned Tyler was telling Mary Grace that he loved her and hoped he got to see her again then Mary Grace told him he was welcome to go to her house anytime. That is when I supposedly said “NO Mary Grace that would be trespassing”. Why would I say that when I never heard their conversation? Then we left. Also, for the record I did not hear Mia (Tyler’s mom) say: I hope you do the right thing. Actually, I never thought of NOT doing the right thing.

Now with John Brooks’ burial over, things started to focus on the material things. John Brooks seemed to run his mouth a lot about what he wanted done with certain things. Later we learn that it was just that: talk. Even Brian was thinking that “the cousins” were trying to squeeze Tyler out of John Brooks’ affairs, not giving him what John Brooks had promised and Tyler was getting screwed. After all, we had not been around for decades. Wrong. (It would have taken very little investigating to learn how active we were in Mary Grace and John Brooks lives instead of relying on one biased source.) Besides, Tyler was not the only one that got screwed. (excuse my expression).

The rest of this chapter was Brian’s interviews with John Brooks’ attorney, Boozer Downs and Town Clerk Faye Gamble, who John called the night of his suicide. He confirmed with Attorney Downs that John Brooks did not have a will, he was un-banked, and the possibility of a treasure hunt might start sooner than later. Brian’s conversation with Faye covered the phone call John Brooks made to her the night of his death. I am not even going there—-

Then we are taken to Tyler’s grandmothers house for the post burial gathering. If I had to pick a statement out of the whole podcast that upset or maybe the word should be disappointed me the most, it would have to be when Tyler was talking about how no one really knew him– –Quote: “None of these folks even knows me really and they have no idea I paid for the f—ing tip of that Old Women’s cane.“ I know he was saying that no one knew what he might mean to Mary Grace. And he was probably right I did not understand their relationship–no one had explained it to me. And I could be taking this wrong, just like people took my statement about Nipple rings wrong, but after everything John Brooks did for you and your family you seemed to be put out over what? $$ two bucks?? for an old Women–whose name is Mary Grace. I thought I did pretty good not commenting on the S-Town discussion groups until one day someone said something about the Old Lady—that is just so disrespectful to me. I replied: The old lady has a name and it is Mary Grace. Let’s not forget she is the true victim here.

We also learn in this chapter about the headstone Tyler made for John Brooks’ grave. He really did a nice job and I appreciated it. It helped Mary Grace too since she did not have the money to purchase one.

This chapter also confirmed what we knew all along, but just couldn’t prove: Tyler admitted he was the one going into the house and helping himself, I suspect he got the burial polices that we searched for and never found. And why would he want Uncle Brooks old stock papers? Go figure. I blame John Brooks for most of this mess, I hated that he promised Tyler so much that he did not have the right to give.

For all the talk of “the gold” out of curiosity, I looked up the value of gold on June 22, 2015: it was $1,185.45 an ounce. So, 20 ounces would equal to $23,709.00. (the podcast stated that this was the amount of gold John Brooks wanted Tyler to have) No one knows when all the legal affairs would have been settled so who knows what it would have been worth. (I just have to say, my guess is Tyler probably got the value of 20 ounces of gold, if not more.) I believe the gold was in the freezer like John Brooks told Faye. Who knows who could have taken it, there were a lot of people in and out of the house. Guess we will never know, and at this point I really don’t care. They will have to live with the karma of stealing from an elderly lady.

Ok—Let’s keep talking



Wow, who would imagine the popularity of this podcast. I actually had a “Podcast Party” with just family from Texas. We had heard so much about the podcast and lived so much of its story we just had to share it as a family. Here are a couple of pictures from the podcast party:

I think Brian Reed did an excellent job with this production but, I must admit it was my first and last podcast so far. As I said earlier I didn’t even know what a podcast was until S-Town. This podcast really turned out to be the Story of John Brooks McLemore, and Brian did bring out John Brooks true colors. “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

I often wondered like most of y’all probably did too, what would John Brooks say about all of this? I imagine if he were still living there wouldn’t have been a podcast. After all, the things John Brooks wanted investigated went south and were proven untrue. I can’t even comment on what he would think about all of this, or what Mary Grace might think. I would love to let her know about the popularity of John Brooks and the things of his life story that would make her proud. There was a side of John Brooks revealed that Mary Grace knew nothing about. I believe some of the things mentioned would have embarrassed even him.

Mary Grace’s caregiver and I have made a special effort to keep all of this from Mary Grace. I was so afraid she was going to see someone wearing a tee-shirt with John Brooks’ picture on the front or see something on the news. At her age you never know the reaction it will bring. We do know if she talks much about John Brooks during the day she does not rest well that night. Like I mentioned, so much of the podcast is about the John Brooks she really didn’t know.

I am so happy that the world got to see the “brilliant” John Brooks, the kind-hearted John Brooks, the troubled John Brooks, the John Brooks that so many loved and the John Brooks that many learned to tolerate. It is so sad that this man of “genius” status was not able to function outside his, and I quote: “Prison of my own making”

I can’t even imagine living in John Brooks’ brain because being on the outside was difficult enough. He was like so many degrees above ADHD. Like Brian said: “He was exhausting”. I don’t know if anything at that point in his life would have made him happy. He definitely could not stay focused on one project. While in the middle of remodeling the home place he decides to design and build a “Maze”. I understand that it took 2 1/2 years and over $60,000 dollars.

As hard as it is, I want to believe that he took care of Mary Grace the best he knew how. One thing I do know, he did not know how to manage his or her money. It amazes me that after the podcast his finances received so much attention. I guess it was because so many seemed to think he was worth millions of dollars and could not believe that being broke might have been one of the reasons he committed suicide. I think that is exactly what John Brooks hoped everyone would think, (that he had millions). I believe John Brooks thought as long as he had money he would have friends.

I was shocked when I heard the news of his suicide but, not surprised. What did surprise me was he didn’t take Mary Grace with him. Was I saddened by John Brooks’ death? Of course, he was family. But, at this point my grief was shifted to Mary Grace.

As far as the podcast is concerned, there were several situations that I wish had been portrayed differently. And the foul language, there was just so much of it. I realize that my part of the podcast had nothing to do with John Brooks, but with Mary Grace. I also realize that my part of the podcast came down to “He said–She said”. But, this Blog has been all about what SHE SAID, so here we go. I probably have covered some of the following in my previous postings, but I am listening to the podcast again as I am writing this part of the blog–so I am going to jump right in and probably jump around a lot.

Chapter 1 well, this was the real John Brooks. What you see is what you get. On Brian’s first visit there was no hand shake, no how are you, no clean clothes, no invitation to come inside for a glass of “Sweet Tea”, no introduction to “Mama”, nothing. He was focused on showing off his property, beautiful flowers, trees and of course the maze, and he certainly had the right to be proud.
Here are a few pictures of the maze that I took in April 2012.

I told him he should open it to the public, but he said the liability would be too high. I said well at least let the school children come over for a field trip. We know that didn’t happen. One more thing that caught my interest in chapter 1 was the statement Brian made: “we go pass a big trailer and two old school buses, one yellow and one blue, their filled with lumber for John’s house that he is aging to get the wood as close as possible to what they used to built the house two hundred years ago.” I would think this clears up the mystery of who owes the trailer, buses and contents inside.

Chapter 2 revealed John Brooks’ kind heartedness, he sacrificed his skin to keep the Black Sheep tattoo parlor a float. It seems he spent $2,000 to $3,000 over the span of every couple of week, Wow, that will lower your cash account. And to think that John spent this money on tattoos, one of the things he hated about S-Town. I believe John Brooks called them a expression of hopelessness. One thing in the podcast I could relate to: John Brooks was not disappointed that the murder of D. Nichols did not happen, he was disappointed in the fact there were people that believed it was true and did nothing about it. The inaction. The acceptance. That is how I felt dealing with law enforcement while trying to protect Mary Grace’s assets. The inaction. The acceptance.

I am getting my first look into the relationship between John Brooks and Tyler. It would not be fair for me to say much on this subject. I do believe they cared for each other? Of course. Do I think they used each other? Of course. I believe that John Brooks thought he could help Tyler as he had others in the past. Remember, I am seeing this situation through the eyes of a family member who was only thinking of Mary Grace. I am thinking with the money he spent on a maze, tattoos, piercing, and legal fees for others he could have built a small comfortable home for his mother and himself. After all it was mostly her inheritance they lived on. Mary Grace told me years ago that she would never put her house and property in John Brooks’ name because he would sell it and put her in a nursing home.

In Chapter 3 I could feel and share the sadness expressed by Brian and the Goodson’s over the news of John Brooks’ death. And I can genuinely say I appreciated the concern for Mary Grace in the hours that followed. If I had not shown up it would have been a bigger problem because the state would then have had to locate the next of kin. There were enough people in Woodstock who knew there was family out there somewhere. Just saying, it would not have been as easy as they think to get Power of Attorney (POA) over Mary Grace.
I listened to Tyler reliving the day of Monday June 22nd and as he talks about John Brooks wanting him at the house all the time and John Brooks depended on him–well, I am sure he did but, I must wonder that in John Brooks mind he felt this is what Tyler was being paid for, (I am not saying it was right). Maybe John Brooks was thinking “since I am paying Tyler for his labor, legal fees, kids Christmas, tattoos, etc.” –who knew what John Brooks was thinking-right??
It is in this chapter I learn that I am white trash, a drunk, and good for nothing. Really??? Funny being that I don’t drink, (maybe a Pina colada once in a while) but I have never been drunk. I went to work the week after high school graduation, and saved for my retirement . I have always tried to do the right thing by others, respect my elders, be there for my family and friends when they were in need. I was so blessed to have a family that taught me the “golden rule”.

I have already explained the confrontation of when I first met Tyler at the house. I do not remember cussing, but I was probably talking with an elevated voice. I have also wondered, when we arrived at Mary Grace’s on June 24th, 2015 was the padlock meant to keep everyone out or was it really meant to only let one person in??? You can be assured I was not acting or trying to squeeze a tear out when we got to the hospital. Mary Grace did not tell us who Tyler was or how he was connected to her or John Brooks, and for sure, she did not mention going with Tyler to the lawyer’s office or going with him to make funeral arrangements. Actually, he told me his grandmother was going with him to make the arrangements.

Tyler found out that very day, the hospital would not release Mary Grace to go home with him. (in podcast he said it was the next day). It was that same night he went on Mary Grace’s property with Jake, (his brother) to start taking items.

During the podcast Tyler was pretty adamant about Mary Grace having pearls and diamonds and about the gold. I Wonder what happened to them because they were never found in the house while we were cleaning it out. Oh, that’s right–there were others in the house before us.

The funeral service deserves its own posting –coming up next.

Ok–Let’s keep talking.


Mary Grace’s new life

I know there have been a lot of concerns about Mary Grace and her caregiver or I should say caregivers.
Let me reassure you Mary Grace could not be in a better place or with anyone better qualified to take care of her. This woman worked at the Mental Hospital in Tuscaloosa for years and then was employed by a home healthcare service. Besides, she was highly recommended as the best, and has proven to be just that: the BEST!

Mary Grace could not be happier. She thinks of this place as her home now and they are one happy family. They had a death in the family last May 2017 and I kept Mary Grace with me for a week, (In Alabama). Mary Grace asked about them every day and gave them the biggest bear hug when they came to pick her up. I teared up watching them together. She told me this lady was like a mother to her. Mary Grace is quick to tell you: I would be lying if I told you they were not good to me. Their lives are dedicated to Mary Grace and her needs. And as a bonus, they have 2 small house dogs which Mary Grace loves.

I am so glad it has worked out for Mary Grace. This kept her close to friends and her Doctor which she thinks the world of. Now that Mary Grace is with the caregiver, they travel a lot. She loves to visit the casinos, riding in their boat, going to the Tn/North Carolina mountains during leaf season and loves to eat out. Mary Graces goes everywhere they go. They tell me every morning when she gets up she asks, “are we going anywhere today”? One day they answered “no” because it is going to rain today. She then asked “well, does the car leak”?

Mary Grace is still getting along with little assistance. She is really dependent on her walking cane and has been for several years. She realizes it helps her walk, but I believe she thinks of it as her protection too–she is quick to threaten you with it if you misbehave.

She has always had a “Keen” sense of humor. She always reminds you that she tells things like it is.

Every time you ask Mary Grace how are you doing, her reply is “I’m mean as a rattlesnake”.

Mary Grace will go through periods of not eating as well as we would like, and it drives her caregiver crazy. She will call me for suggestions on what to cook. Once she told Mary Grace “Reta said you liked spaghetti, Mary Grace replied ” Reta should keep her mouth shut”.

Back in the fall of 2016, we had to evacuate because of a hurricane threat. Mr. Lawrence was staying with us at the time, so we loaded up and thought we could drive a few hundred miles, find a hotel room and wait it out for a few days. Well, a few million other people thought the same thing. Anyway, we ended up in Woodstock. During that stay Mary Grace spent the day with us. Her and Papa had grown up together, so they kept us entertained with stories from the past. Papa ask Mary Grace if she knew Clifton (my uncle and her cousin) she said, “Sure I do”–Papa said “well we went coon hunting together when we were young”. Then he asks her if she had ever eaten coon? She replied, “No we were rich, so I didn’t have to eat coon”.

The week of May 2017 when she stayed with us, she kept us laughing. She called Charlie “Your Lordship”. One morning he could not get a connection on his computer, she said ” well, ask it when can you get a connection”. Also, we were sitting on the porch one day while I was giving myself a manicure. She asked me what I was doing, I answered “I am doing my finger nails”. Then I asked her if she wanted me to do her nails, she replied “Lord No”. I asked what about your hair—”Lord NO”, I asked what about your toes—”Lord NO “and she continued, “I don’t want you to clean my a– either”. She is a trip.

Mary Grace always tells me that our Aunt needed to see a psychiatrist, but then the psychiatrist would need to see a psychiatrist. LOL

She fell not long ago, so when the caregiver called to let me know about it and she had been to the ER where she was examined, Mary Grace wanted to talk to me, so I would know she was OK–she said “Reta, I just can’t let go of the bottle, so I got drunk, fell and busted my butt”. Of course, I knew that was not the case, and she was just joking. Now when I call her I ask her if she has quit drinking. LOL

I could go on and on but, I just wanted to give you some insight of her personality. She never complains and is always the same when you visit or talk to her on the phone. Also, she never fails to say, “thank you”. One night her caregiver told her, “Mary Grace you do not have to say thank you for everything we do for you. She replied, “oh yes I do that is the way my Mama raised me”.

I just have to share one more conversation I had with her the other day. We were talking on the phone and she said: Reta, you know Tom (her husband) could not drive very well. I think he paid someone off so he could get his licenses. Every time he would ask me to go for a ride I would say: Ok, but first I need to check and make sure my burial policy is paid to date.

I appreciate everyone that has contacted me about her and her health. And truly she is the reason I put up such a fight, all for her. And, I would do it all over again tomorrow.

Here are some pictures that have been taken over the last few years.

Me and Mary Grace April 2012

Mary Grace with Indians-Cherokee, NC 2015

Me and Mary Grace June 2016

Mary Grace reading May 2017

Mothers Day 2017

Mothers Day lunch 2017

Mary Grace on boat ride

OK—Let’s talk –just a little more,


My thoughts on what happened the night of 6-22-15

This is a hard post to compose because I have no proof of what I am about to write. This post is nothing, but my thoughts written down on paper. And as with so many of these blog postings, there are questions in which we will never know the answers. If there is one thing I have learned, it would probably be the fact I am over thinking this. And believe me I have had 3 years to think this over. So this posting will be shorter than I first thought. And keep in mind, I had not heard the podcast when I did the interview with Brian Reed, after the trespassing hearing.

I experienced all the same emotions some of you did: sadness, emptiness and maybe even a little guilt thinking that in some way I could have helped him prevent this life ending tragedy. As I previously mentioned, the news of John Brooks’ suicide did not surprise me, it was the timing that surprised me. I always thought it would be after the passing of his mother, Mary Grace or even the fact that he would take her life at the same time. And most of the people I talked to had the same thoughts. Now since I know the whole story I believe that John was so wrapped up in his own tormented state of mind that he just forgot all about Mary Grace.

I kept wondering why this date? What happened to make John Brooks decide this was the day?

This is what I kept hearing over and over in my mind: John Brooks said he left or was leaving Tyler’s stuff/tools on the porch or in the shop. I don’t know John Brooks’ exact words, but I do know at one point I heard, Tyler’s tools are in a bag on the porch. I never took that to mean he might have more than a few items. At this point it does not matter, it still comes down to Tyler’s belongings being on the porch or in the shop. But, my point is, why would John Brooks, who knew he had only hours, or minutes, to live, want to make sure Tyler only got what belonged to Tyler. Whoever this Tyler person was—was John mad at him?? Was John Brooks so mad and agitated at this time he was only thinking about himself and Tyler?

Monday June 22, 2015–what seemed to start out as a good day went downhill fast. Obviously, John Brooks and Tyler enjoyed the day at the river, a stress free day, maybe a day of healing after their misunderstanding a few days prior. We all need a day like that when we can unwind, let our hair down (so to speak), just forget about our problems and enjoy the moment and get re-charged. Of Course, sounds like John Brooks had a little help relaxing with his bottle of whiskey. I believe the getaway day was so nice John Brooks did not want it to end. When Tyler left, John Brooks let his depression and loneliness set in again, even turning into anger.

I leaned that John Brooks called one of his neighbors that evening wanting him to come for a visit. They talked for over a hour and since the neighbor could not visit that night, they made plans to get together the next morning. He said John Brooks wanted him to see his “chicken bowl collection”. This person said John Brooks was in good spirits and there was no indication that John Brooks would not be there the next morning.

I think John Brooks got so worked up due to the fact Tyler would not come back and do church or whatever–he packed up Tyler’s tools and said–I have had enough. I also think there was more to it, I agree with some of the people interviewed: John Brooks was jealous of Tyler’s relationship with Cami, he hated S-Town, hated his life, etc., what I do wonder if maybe their conversation that night prompted any words other than NO, I am not coming back over to your house. —You can fill in the blanks—
That is why I made the statement I thought John’s suicide was premature, he was so angry over a situation he had no control over. This was his way of having the last word. There is no one that could be accused or blamed for John Brooks’ death, like the doctor said there is nothing anyone can do once they make up their mind and I am sure Faye would testify to that.

I also was concerned about a few more things that do not make sense to me.

First being, where was Mary Grace on the day of their outing? Surely they didn’t leave her by herself—–

I was confused and concerned why no one seemed to think anything about the missing money and the missing gold. This was not just a suicide, there was a robbery involved. Did they not believe John Brooks? I still believe the Police should have done more –why didn’t they ask any questions like, who saw John last? who talked to John last? what was his mind set? Find out who all knew about this suicide that may or may not take place that night. Who might have known about the money and gold? And who all had been in the house and when? I know drinking cyanide is pretty cut and dried—but there sure was a lot of baggage that went along with this one.

Food for thought——I think every suicide should be treated as a homicide until proven differently. Actually, I heard that on 20/20 last week but, sounds pretty smart to me.

Faye said she heard the dogs barking, those dogs followed John Brooks’ every step–why would they bark at John Brooks when he walked out the front door??? Were they barking at someone else, maybe someone that came out of the woods or was walking up the drive? Someone that knew John Brooks was going to kill himself, so they needed to get in the house and get the gold, money and other personal items before the police arrived? I agree with the guy on the podcast that felt like maybe whoever got the money and gold just might have stepped over John Brooks’ body to do so.

I recently asked Faye Gamble what phone John Brooks used to call her. She told me it was the house phone. I was curious about it because I was told by Tyler that John Brooks did not have a cell phone (and I never saw a bill for one) but, I was unaware that the house had a portable phone, I don’t remember seeing one in the house but, I guess I missed it. (Or just maybe someone got it too) So that meant the phone in the kitchen had a really, really long cord if it reached the porch. Anyway, with no cell phone that means John Brooks had to log on to his computer before he could text Tyler to tell him he could have anything in the house. (maybe John felt guilty about wanting Tyler to get only his tools) His text was at 9:12 and he called Faye at 9:15. That only left him 3 minutes to call Faye and tell her about his last wishes, mix the cyanide and then drink the cyanide. WOW! No wonder he forgot about Mary Grace.

Oh there is one more reason why John Brooks might have chose that night, he realized he was broke and in debt, and of course according to the podcast, he was TIRED, TIRED, TIRED.

Remember these were my thoughts and only my thoughts .

Ok–Let’s keep talking,


First of all–I never thought I would be stating John Brooks’ name and nipple rings in the same sentence.

As you recall, I was not aware of any tattoos or nipple piercing until the Funeral Home Director informed me. Actually, his words were “You know John has a lot of tattoos and some Big Gold Nipple rings, my reply was, “Really, no I did not”, but at that time I told him that I wanted the rings. Only because our family never buried loved ones with eyeglasses–must less jewelry. Chapter 4 is when the nipple rings are mentioned. It seems Tyler got the word we were trying to get them because they were gold. I did not think twice about them being gold because I felt sure I was going to find some other sources of income. When I mentioned the rings to others it was to share my surprise that John even had rings in his nipples. At the burial services when I was told they could not be removed–I was like OK–whatever.

The more I thought about it I concluded that it was just one more apparent lie I was told. Maybe just one more thing someone didn’t want to be bothered with. Maybe they forgot, maybe they didn’t have time, etc. OK, just tell me that, don’t tell me you could not get them off.

Let’s go back and think about the time frame we are dealing with here: John Brooks passed on June 22, 2015 and the phone interview I conducted with Brian Reed was January 18, 2016. Almost 7 months to the day. No one knows what I had been though 24/7 since that time. From the day I arrived in Alabama I was fighting unnecessary battles: I couldn’t:
• Get into Mary Grace’s house
• Get Mary Grace out of the hospital
• Get the mail
• Stop the stealing and trespassing
• Get a break with the Police Department
• Get any answers that made sense
• I was away from home more than I was at home
• Mary Grace had no money and nowhere to live
And then: you are now telling me you can’t get the nipple rings off a dead man??? REALLY???? Like I mentioned, they had performed an autopsy and we all know what that means.

So, here I am spilling my guts to Brian Reed and when he asked me some questions, I really didn’t take the time to think about my answers, I sounded stupid. When Brian asked me why I wanted the rings, I don’t know why, but why wouldn’t I get them? Did they belong to the funeral home? NO, did they belong to Tyler? NO, did they belong to me? NO but, if anyone should have them it would be Mary Grace, which I would never have given them to her or if I had given them to her, she would not know what they were. Knowing what I know now, if I was given the rings and they had been gold-I would have sold them in a heartbeat, because Mary Grace was broke.

I will have to say my statement on the Podcast “Just cut his nipples off–He’s dead” came across really harsh. And believe me–it haunts me. I probably had the same reaction as some of you did when I heard myself say those words. “Just cut off the nipples” I remember sitting by my cousin’s husband on the sofa and I turned to him and said: Oh My Gosh–I said that???

If you will listen again when Brian asked me “you mean you would really cut off his nipples?” My reply was: NO, I am just saying, don’t tell me you can’t get nipple rings off a dead man when you have already cut him from neck to privates.

I admit I am the type of person that never gives up when I feel something just doesn’t add up, I want proof, don’t just tell me something and expect me to believe it. I know I take things too far sometimes. (It drives Charlie crazy–he will say “enough Reta let it go”). I wish I could because it drives me crazy too.
My mind was going 90 miles an hour. I just could not let this go. I thought back to John Brooks’ picture, the one where he was leaning back in the wrought iron chair shirtless.
(See photo)

Pic that was on John Brooks headstone

Those were some big rings. And later I thought about the morning Mary Grace sat beside her son’s coffin and rubbed his chest. His chest was flat–I know because I was thinking–you know this shirt looks good on John Brooks since I figured it was too small for him when I picked it out of his closet but, I knew the mortician could make it fit. No one will ever make me believe the nipple rings were there at the time.

This bothered me so much that I wrote a letter to the Funeral Home that prepared John’s body on March 1, 2017. I researched and found out the name of the funeral home owner. I called and ask to speak with him but of course he was not there. I ask if I mailed a letter to that address would the owner receive it and the lady said sure but, he does not come in everyday. She kept asking me what this call was concerning so finally I told her of my concerns. I told her that I was just thinking about the rings that could not be removed from my cousin’s body. Of course, she was definitely defensive, and I am sure I would have been too if I was in her shoes. I explained that it wasn’t even the fact I didn’t get the rings–I just wanted someone to explain to me why they would not be able to remove the rings.

OK, I told you I could not let this go–I even talked to two morticians about this matter. One was a retired Coroner and he told me he did not know anything that could not be removed from a corpse. Another was still employed with a funeral home and he explained that he had even removed a pace-maker from a body that was going to be cremated. It had to be removed or it would have exploded.
So, while I was talking with the lady at the Funeral home—I asked her–well, can you think of anything that could not be removed from a corpse? Her reply was yes– a tattoo. Really?? Needless to say, I never got a reply about the letter.

Guess this is another mystery that will never be solved.

Let’s just put this to rest. I can say that I finally have.

OK–Let’s keep talking