Have you watched the documentary “Goodnight Sugar Babe”? It doesn’t appear to be available anywhere other than Amazon Prime now, so I will link an equally detailed YouTube video. On top of the very upsetting written content, there will be crime scene photos included within this article; if you’re sensitive to this…
March 26th of 2011
24 year old Vera Jo Reigle was mentally slow, they say that she had the mentality of an 8 – 12 year old child. She’d had a very troubled childhood, had been repeatedly abused, sexually, by both her biological father and mom’s boyfriend. Of course this caused a rift between mother and daughter; when a 19 year old Vera met a boy, 13 year old Zachary Brooks, Vera had been thrilled that his family took her into their fold. When Zachary’s mother, Cheri Lynne Brooks, offered for Vera to move in, she jumped at the opportunity. Vera just couldn’t see that these were terrible, evil people; they had been kind to her in the beginning, but they’d had ulterior motives.
So, first things first, let’s get this out of the way. Cheri is the mother of 9; she lost her first 5 kids, one at a time, for blatant sexual abuse. Scottie (who is the product of consensual incest with Cheri’s first cousin; he is mentally disabled), Michael, Maria, Joshua, and little Cheri were all taken away, one at a time, while they were young. Maria was only removed from the home after she was raped, the poor baby had only been one year old at the time; Little Cheri was thankfully spared her abuse as she was taken at birth. A few of the children who were taken did make their way back to Cheri when they were a bit older. For some reason, even though the first 5 were removed from the home, the next 4 children were left in their mother’s custody: Kevin AKA “Punky”, Zachary, Garth, and Chuckie. Kevin Brooks Sr. is Cheri’s husband and the father of most of Cheri’s offspring.
The Brooks family is a well known crime family, their leader being mama Cheri, AKA Sugar Babe- a woman often rightfully compared to Charles Manson. Though Cheri looks harmless, she is disabled and in a wheelchair, do not allow that to fool you! This woman is a baby rapist, a sadist, a criminal, a sociopath, and a master manipulator who has proven again and again that she can convince people to do her dirty work at will.
Cheri had been sexually abused by her father, big Chuck, beginning when she was merely a toddler. Eventually she was taken away, and placed in the system, but she continued this sexual relationship with her father even after having married Kevin Brooks. When she began to give birth to children of her own, the abused became the abuser – the cycle continued, and Cheri sexually abused them. Family and neighbors witnessed this abuse, and DCF had been called multiple times; it’s difficult to understand why all of this deviant’s children were not taken from her at once, authorities only took one baby at a time. The others were left in Cheri’s custody until there was another complaint, and another, and so on. Since her own children were constantly being taken, Cheri began to search for other women to give birth to babies for her; when her own children were a little older, Cheri accomplished this by talking her teenaged son’s various young girlfriends into getting pregnant. Cheri always hoped for little girls, though it’s well known that she had no problem sexually assaulting little boys.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the children raised by this pervert grew to become criminals and gang members; they all claim to be members of the Crips, there are even photos of the wheelchair bound older woman throwing up gang signs. Her son, Punky, had been well known as the area’s leader of the Crips. Punky had been very much feared in Findlay, until August 5th of 2010 when the 19 year old lost his life in a tragic accident. He and his girlfriend, Heather, had been walking down the road, on their way to score some heroin, when a vehicle slammed into Punky. Investigators determined that this was an accidental death; Cheri never could accept this, and she needed vengeance. She told everyone that Punky’s girlfriend, Heather, had been responsible for his murder; according to Cheri, Punky had been pushed in front of that vehicle by his girlfriend. This had been a lie, of course, but Cheri made sure that the girlfriend paid the price; she asked one of Punky’s buddies to “beat the hell” out of Heather, and Cheri sat and watched the fight. After Punky’s death, Zachary took his brother’s place as the town gang’s new leader of the Crips.
With Vera living at the Brooks house, her disability check had been cashed by Cheri each month. Most of the people living at the Brooks home were on disability, it’s how the family supported itself; welfare, disability checks, and criminal activity such as the selling of drugs. Soon Cheri began telling Vera her that she expected a baby from her. Vera was a sweet young girl who wanted nothing more than to make people happy, and she obliged; this is when everything began to go down hill. Vera was no longer treated as a girlfriend or a beloved daughter in law; instead she was treated as the family slave, the walking uterus which housed the baby girl which Cheri so desperately wanted. Cheri claimed the infant as her own before it was even born, she even controlled the baby’s date of birth! The grandmother had been adamant that baby Willadean would be born on her own birthday, and Vera was forced to drink multiple bottles of castor oil to bring about early labor – 3 full bottles! Willadean was born on the day after Cheri’s birthday, November 4th, more than a month early. Due to her early forced delivery, Baby Willadeen was not well enough to come home at birth, and she’d been born with heart issues. The baby spent her first weeks of life hooked up to machines in NICU.
Vera dearly loved her daughter and there’s little doubt that she’d have been the best mama possible had she been given the opportunity. Baby Willadean was taken from Vera by Cheri; very rarely was Vera even allowed to touch her daughter. If she did touch Willadeen, Zachary or Cheri would savagely beat her. Instead of tending to her motherly duties, Vera’s days were spent cleaning the house, or on her knees while rubbing Cheri’s feet; this was said to be her “job”. She was secluded from anyone outside of the Brooks family, not even allowed to speak to her own beloved sister. Vera attempted more than once to take her baby and leave, but Cheri wouldn’t allow it. Someone was always watching, the baby slept in Cheri’s room, and Cheri promised that if Vera ever did leave she’d murder little Willadean, that she’d slash the baby’s throat. Vera had no reason to believe this an empty threat, so she’d stayed and endured the abuse. The more time went by, the worse she was treated. Vera was now the family’s whipping girl; Cheri told people that she thought that Vera looked cute with her black eyes, like a little squirrel or a raccoon. Vera was forced to sleep in a closet with a pig; witnesses recount that she was even forced to eat the pig’s feces as punishment! On another occasion Vera was beaten because she ate a KitKat bar which had belonged to the already deceased Punky; by eating the chocolate Vera had intentionally disrespected the dead man. Then there was the mace incident: someone set off a canister of pepper spray in an upstairs bedroom; Vera took the blame for this as well.
The mace story is particularly important because, at the time, Cheri had been trying to talk her son Michael’s girlfriend, Shannon, into getting pregnant. There’s proof that Shannon was telling people she was pregnant at the time; though she now denies it, there are screen shots to prove it. Since Shannon was lying about the pregnancy, she claimed that the fumes from the pepper spray brought on a miscarriage; Vera had caused the death of Shannon’s imaginary baby, and Shannon had told multiple people that she’d wanted Vera dead for this. Everything and anything which ever went wrong with this family, it was all blamed on Vera Jo.
Police and family services were called on Vera’s behalf many, many times; these agencies knew exactly what was going on, they’d been inside this house of horrors! They were fully aware of the conditions in which baby Willadean had been living in, they knew exactly how filthy the home was. They were aware that Cheri didn’t even bother using a toilet, she simply urinated in a bucket kept in reach of the toddler! They knew there were actual pigs living inside the home defecating all over the place! They knew that multiple children had been taken from the home due to Cheri’s compulsive sexual abuse, and that baby Willadean shared a bedroom with Cheri! They were aware that Vera was catching beatings on the regular; when police or dcf came to question Vera on the way she was being treated, she was always questioned right there in front of Cheri! Vera was afraid to tell the truth; she was instructed to say that she had fallen down the stairs, or to give some other lame excuse which anyone with an ounce of sense could’ve seen straight through! During one of Vera’s frequent hospital visits, this particular time for a broken nose given to her by Zachary, Vera was forced to say that a “black boyfriend” from the next town over was to blame. But anyone remotely familiar with the situation knew that there had been no other boyfriend, Vera was never permitted to have contact with anyone outside the home!
Once the baby was born, Vera became a problem – a burden. Zachary didn’t love her, he probably never did and he’d wanted to date other girls. But there was a problem: if Vera were to leave the home, they knew that the young mother could easily gain custody of Willadean and that just couldn’t happen. So, Cheri and her extended family began to openly plan Vera’s demise. They debated different scenarios such as overdosing Vera on drugs then leaving her on the railroad tracks for the train to hit her. Cheri had seen a corpse which had been hit by a train before, and she said that the victim’s face resembled “hamburger meat”; the woman said that this was what needed to be done with Vera.
Daniel Bixler was a cousin who had only been out of prison for 3 weeks at this time, he’d just finished serving a 3 year prison sentence. Cheri had been pretty close to Danny, considering his father was the first cousin with whom she’d had that incestuous relationship with; technically Danny and Cheri’s son Scottie are half brothers, and their father is in prison for the attempted murder of Danny’s mom. So, Danny was already a self professed killer, he even had a teardrop tattoo on his face. He and his new girlfriend, 17 year old Nicole Peters, had been staying at the Brooks home in recent weeks. Nicole was curious about what it would feel like to take a life, and she’d wanted a teardrop tattoo to match her boyfriend’s. Cheri knew that she had struck gold, these two were perfect for solving her Vera problem. She told them that it hadn’t been Punky’s girlfriend who had been walking with the gang leader on the night of his unfortunate death; it had been Vera! Vera was the one who had pushed Punky! Then Vera disrespected her victim by eating his candy bar, and she’d sprayed mace which had brought about Shannon’s miscarriage, and Vera always abused baby Willadean when no one was looking! Cheri persisted that Vera deserved to die for all that she’d done; Danny and Nicole readily agreed to do Cheri’s dirty work.
4 days before Vera was murdered, the worst of the torture began; she was beaten intermittently throughout those days. One of Cheri’s sons, Chuckie, tied a padlock to the end a of belt and the family took turns just beating the hell out of poor Vera with this homemade weapon; a paddle was also used, and Vera’s head was stomped. Witnesses, including Cheri, have stated that this sort of thing had turned Nicole on, sexually. She and her boyfriend would take breaks from the beatings, go lock themselves in a bedroom for a while, then they would come back out and beat on Vera Jo some more. The beatings occurred in Cheri’s bedroom, and she would egg Nicole and Danny on the whole time: “Hit her again Nicole! Vera is a whore, Nicole, she wants to sleep with Danny! Hit her again“. Considering baby Willadean slept in Cheri’s room at night, you know that poor baby was present throughout it all; you gotta wonder how much of her mother’s torture 18 month old Willadeen witnessed.
After nightfall on March 26th of 2011, Zachary, Danny, and Nicole demanded that Vera put her shoes on, they were going for a walk. Witnesses who were present that night say that they believe Vera knew she was going to be murdered, she had not wanted to go anywhere but eventually she did as she was told. They walked to the railroad tracks near the family home, and when they arrived at the predetermined spot, they began to stab Vera with a kitchen knife. Their weapon of choice had been so dull that it would barely even penetrate Vera’s skin, so they forced this poor woman to strip naked – you know, so that they wouldn’t have to work so hard at killing her. Vera was stabbed repeatedly and when they thought she was close enough to death, they laid her sideways on the tracks, and left her alone in frigid temperatures to die. After the group left the scene of the crime they threw their murder weapon into a local body of water. The killers knew that a train would be coming around 2 am; they assumed that if Vera was hit by the train, she’d look like “hamburger meat”. This would render Vera Jo unidentifiable, and they believed that much of the evidence would be lost. Poor Vera, after she’d been left alone that night she used the very last bit of her strength to remove herself from the rails; she curled up in a fetal position in the middle of the tracks, and Vera passed away.
When the 2 am train came through, it did pass over Vera’s corpse. The train conductor had spotted the body immediately, and he called the police. Amazingly the train did not hit her; Vera’s body stood exactly 12 inches off the ground – the train’s clearance had been just 13 inches! The victim was not turned into hamburger meat, as intended; she was identifiable, and none of the evidence had not been destroyed. Matter of fact, a person who had recently dealt with Vera after a beating yet had done nothing to help just weeks prior had been the one to identify the young mother’s corpse.
Autopsy proved that Vera had been stabbed 21 times, her throat had been slashed from ear to ear, and that nearly every bone in this poor woman’s face had been broken from that beating she’d received just before her death. Vera Jo had been tortured.
Police promptly went to the Brooks home in order to question the family; again, while the police removed everyone from the home so they could interview the family members one by one, Cheri was permitted to stay put throughout it all. It’s evident that everyone, literally everyone is terrified of this woman to this very day. Cheri originally tried to blame the murder on someone outside the family, she said that Vera’s imaginary “black boyfriend” from out of town must be responsible for this as well! Police found evidence inside the home such as Nicole’s bloody sweatshirt, the paddle, and the belt and lock weapon which Vera had been beaten with. Police arrested Danny and Nicole, who did confess; they stated that they’d been given drugs by Cheri, and talked into killing Vera. Cheri had even instructed them on how to do it!
Both Danny and Nicole took plea deals; Danny was sentenced to 40 years to life for Vera’s death, and Nicole received 23 years for a conspiracy charge. Not murder, but conspiracy; somehow Nicole was the only one who received that charge! The father of Vera’s baby, Zachary, was sentenced to 4 years in prison for obstruction of justice. It apparently doesn’t matter that there’s security footage, actual video proof that Zachary had walked with Danny, Nicole, and Vera to the train tracks that night, and it doesn’t matter that he had been present and likely actively helped stab Vera to death, Zachary was merely prosecuted for obstruction. Cheri’s husband, Kevin Brooks Sr. and another of her sons were charged with selling prescription drugs. In 2014 Cheri spent 10 days in jail for inappropriate contract with an unrelated minor, a mere ten days! As far as Vera’s murder, Cheri the ringleader was only charged with obstruction and drug trafficking; in 2015 she was sentenced to 40 months. Cheri was freed last year, and if what I’m hearing has any truth to it, another of her son’s baby daughters is currently living with her!
This is the justice Vera Jo Reigle received for her torturous murder. The only good thing about any of this is that baby Willadean was taken away from the Brooks family and adopted out. Cheri threw a huge fit over that; she claimed she had custody of the child.
Vera has been laid to rest in Knollcrest Cemetery; she’s recently received a beautiful new headstone which reads “Vera Jo Messersmith”. This is a big deal as Vera always hated the last name of Reigle, since her father had sexually abused her.
*This is the most confusing case EVER. I tried my very best to keep names and details straight, and it took me weeks to write this. If I got a name or some other detail wrong, forgive me. Personally I’m just glad to be done with it, I’ve cried, like ugly cried multiple times over this case. Vera’s abusers, her killers are mostly still at large. The woman who planned her murder, a known pedophile, is still out there! Look her up on Facebook, Cheri Lynne Brooks – this woman even frequents fb pages where Vera Jo is honored! Those interviewed in the documentary admit that they are afraid of this woman, and they all admit that this murder had been openly planned. I can’t understand why she’s not been charged with conspiracy at the very least, or why she’s still permitted to have contact with children! And why have the other players not been charged? It seems a dozen different people participated in the abuse, knew of the plan to murder this young mother yet nothing was done! Are the police, dcf, the DA, are they all afraid of Cheri too? What in the world is going on in Findlay?
*A very detailed YouTube video on the murder of Vera Jo: https://youtu.be/Gw45S1TGSd4