The Torture and Brutal Murder of Vera Jo Reigle

The Torture and Brutal Murder of Vera Jo Reigle

Vera married a 13-year-old boy to escape abuse. Instead, she was used to birth a baby for her new husband's mother and ultimately killed when Willadean arrived.

Vera Jo Reigle was a mentally-challenged 24-year-old woman with the “mind” of an 8 to 12-year-old child. Her troubled childhood included repeated physical abuse by her biological father and when he went to prison, her mom’s new boyfriend.

When Vera Jo was 19-years-old, she met 13-year-old Zachary Brooks and began a romantic relationship. Zachary’s mother, Cheri Lynne Brooks, immediately took her in as part of the family. She had no idea the evil that lurked inside the Brooks home.

Zachary, Cheri and the rest of the family treated Vera Jo kindly when she first moved in with them. She had an ulterior motive in mind, albeit, one that eventually would take Vera Jo’s life.

Meet Cheri, AKA “Sugar Babe”

Cheri, the mother of nine children, lost her first five born kids, one at a time, for blatant sexual abuse. Scottie, her first child, is the product of an incestual relationship with her first cousin who is mentally disabled. She also gave birth to Michael, Maria, Joshua, and Cheri.

The state removed 1-year-old Maria from the home after learning she had been raped. Baby Cheri never went home to the Brooks family as she was placed into foster care at birth.

Cheri’s next four children, Kevin, Zachary, Garth, and Chuckie, were not removed from the home, despite all the abuse surrounding the removal of the first five kids. Kevin Brooks Sr. is the father of the children and was Cheri’s new husband.

Cheri was well-known in and around Findlay, Ohio. People referred to her as Charles Manson, though he wasn't as dangerous as Cheri Brooks. She sold methamphetamine around town, which earned her the name Sugar Babe, one she seemed to fancy pretty well.

Cheri was a bully, behavior that continued even when she became disabled and confined to a wheelchair. She was a manipulator, sadist, baby rapist, and half-ass woman who could easily convince her kids and others to answer to her every demand.

Cheri was abused by her father as a child beginning when she was a toddler. Cheri was removed from her home but continued having a sexual relationship with her father that continued even when she married Kevin Brooks. She then began the cycle of abuse with her own kids, witnessed by neighbors and family.

After losing her own kids, Cheri began to look for other women to have babies for her. The other women she chose were girlfriends of her son’s. She hoped to talk them into getting pregnant and giving her the baby, hopefully, a girl.

The kids who remained in Cheri’s care grew up to become members of the Crips, they claimed. Photos taken of a wheelchair-bound Cheri throwing up gang signs can be seen below. The others in the photo are her kids. Punky was the Findlay-area leader of the Crips. He was killed on August 5, 2010,, after a car slammed into him as he walked down the road with his girlfriend.

Cheri claimed Heather, the girlfriend, caused the death of her son, saying she pushed him in front of the vehicle. This was a lie but wanted Heather to pay the price. She paid one of Punky’s friends to “beat the hell” out of Heather and sat back and watched it happen.

Zachary became the leader of the Crips after his brother’s death.

Cheri Preys on Vera Jo for a Baby

Cheri cashed Vera Jo’s disability checks each month. Vera Jo soon announced her pregnancy; Cheri was overjoyed but soon she and everyone in the house began to treat Vera Jo badly. She was no longer welcomed or loved in the house, but instead, treated like a slave.

Even before Vera Jo delivered the baby, Cheri told people that she was having a baby girl. Cheri forced Vera Jo to drink several bottles of castor oil to hopefully force her into labor so the baby would be born on her birthday. Willadean was born on November 4, the day after Cheri’s birthday and nearly one month before her due date. She spent her first few weeks of life in the NICU.

Vera Jo loved Willadean but was never given the opportunity to be a mommy. She wasn’t allowed to touch her and if she did, Cheri or her husband Zachary would beat her. She was instead forced to clean the house or rub Cheri’s feet while being secluded from everyone in the family. Vera Jo attempted to leave but Cheri found out and had family memes watch her closely. She also kept the baby in the bedroom with her. She also threatened to kill Willadean if Vera Jo left.

Vera’s Abuse

Cheri, Zachary, and other memes of the Brooks’ family began to beat Vera Jo nearly every day. Many people tried to help Vera and called family services on her behalf. They knew all about the house of horrors known as the Brooks home already. They knew it was filthy, had no running water, and that family urinated in a bucket. They knew the Brooks’ family had pigs living in the home and about all of the kids removed from Cheri’s care due to sexual abuse. They knew about the abuse Vera Jo suffered. Yet, when police came to the home, Vera Jo lied to them, forced to do so by Cheri.

Soon Cheri and Zachary began planning on how to get rid of Vera Jo without losing Willadean. Maybe they’d overdose her on drugs or even leave her body tied to the nearby train tracks, the family pondered.

Daniel Moves In With Cheri

Cousin Daniel Bixler had been out of prison for three weeks after serving three years when he moved in with Cheri. Daniel’s father was the first cousin with whom Cheri had a sexual relationship with and bore a child. Danny and Scottie are technically cousins and half-brothers.

A self-professed killer, he and 17-year-old girlfriend Nicole Peters decided they wanted to experience the euphoria of killing someone. She wanted a teardrop tattoo like her boyfriend, after all. Cheri knew that Daniel and Nicole were the perfect pair to help her pull off her plan to rid her life of Vera Jo.

The Torture & Murder of Vera Jo

Vera Jo was tortured for four days. She was beaten sporadically during the days. Chuckie tied a padlock to the end of a belt and each person in the family took turns beating Vera Jo with the belt. They stomped on her head, which sexually aroused Nicole. She and her boyfriend took breaks to have sex several times during the ordeal. They’d come out, refreshed, ready to beat the hell out of Vera Jo again.

On March 26, 2011, Zachary, Danny, and Nicole forced Vera Jo to put on her shoes to take a walk with them. Vera Jo cried and refused but had no other choice. Many people suspect she knew what was soon to happen. As Vera Jo walked out of the home, she said “Goodnight, Sugar Babe.” Those words were the last Vera Jo ever said.

The group walked Vera Jo to the railroad near the home where they began to relentlessly stab her with a kitchen knife. The knife was so dull, it barely protruded into Vera Jo’s skin. They forced her to take off her clothes and stabbed her again and again…and again. When they knew she was close to death, the group laid her sideways on the railroad tracks and left her alone to die. The group walked away, tossing the knife into a lake.

The group knew a trail would soon be by and hoped it would run over vera Jo and turn her into “hamburger meat.”

Vera Jo curled into a fetal position and died in pain, alone, on the railroad tracks. The train did not come as expected and her body was found the following day.

Police questioned the Brooks family. Cheri tried to blame the murder on Vera Jo’s “black boyfriend,” who didn't exist. Police found a mound of evidence in the home, including Nicole’s bloodied shirt, a belt, and a lock of Vera’s hair.

Video surveillance also showed Zachary walking with Danny, Nicole, and Vera Jo to the train tracks that evening.

Arrests Made

Danny and Nicole confessed to the murder and were taken into custody. They told police Cheri gave Vera Jo drugs and had talked them into killing the girl, even giving them instructions on how to carry it out.

Danny and Nicole took plea deals. He was sentenced to 40-years to life for murder and Nicole received 23-years in prison on a conspiracy charge.

Zachary was also arrested and sentenced to four years in prison on obstruction of justice.

Cheri was not charged with a crime in Vera Jo’s murder. However, she and her husband Kevin Brooks Sr. and another son were convicted of selling prescription drugs in 2014. Cheri also spent 10 days in jail for contact with a minor while awaiting trial. In 2015, she was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison. She is now out of prison.

Willadean was adopted by a loving family.