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An up-and-coming fashion designer found dead, possibly after being strangled, in one of Manhattan's most exclusive private clubs. The twentysomething boyfriend whose Oscar-winning father is accused of raping starlets.
A relationship turned tragic.
Here are five things you need to know about the startling death of 33-year-old Sylvie Cachay and the police investigation now underway focusing on her much younger boyfriend, 24-year-old Nicholas Brooks, which has the tabloids and New Yorkers buzzing.
1. The Facts as We Know Them: Cachay, considered a rising star of the fashion world who worked for Tommy Hilfiger before striking out on her own, was found dead Thursday in a fifth-floor suite at Soho House, a boutique hotel frequented by the rich and famous.
Her body was found partially clothed in a black shirt and underwear submerged face up in a bathtub after neighbors complained about an overflowing tub leaking from the apartment above them.
Police initially thought she died of a drug overdose after finding half-empty prescription pill bottle near the bathtub but now suspect she was strangled due to bruises on her neck and a bite mark on her hand and are questioning Brooks, whom she had been dating.
An autopsy is now underway. Sylvie's grieving family released a statement Thursday evening shortly after learning of their loss: "Sylvie Cachay was one of those rare individuals who truly sparkled when she spoke. Her unparalleled style, creativity and talent as a designer made her the darling of the press…[b]ut it was her magnetic energy, sincere kindness and emotional generosity with friends and family that she will be best remembered for. She never failed to tell you she loved you. And we love her. She was optimism and light personified and the world has lost a beautiful soul. She will be deeply and painfully missed, yet celebrated, honored and never forgotten."
2. A Tumultuous Affair: Cachay's publicist, Kate Godici, told the New York Daily News that the couple argued a lot and that two weeks before her death, the designer wrote an email complaining that her unemployed beau had been acting erratically. "I don't think it was a healthy relationship," she told the paper. "I just think he's unstable from what she told me." The two had reportedly had an amicable split before Sylvie left on a vacation to Cancun with her parents. In the wake of her shocking death, her parents Dr. Antonio and Sylvia Cachay, told the Daily News there was no hints of violence in their relationship.
3. Who Is Sylvie Cachay? According to her website, Cachay grew up in he wealthy suburb of McLean, Va., and had dual citizenship, splitting her time as a child between Virginia and Peru. She studied fashion and art at Parsons Paris before moving back to attend Marymount University in Virginia. After graduating with a degree in design she interned with Marc Jacobs, then landed a job at Tommy Hilfiger, where her career really took off.
Moving through the ranks, she eventually became head designer for women's sportswear. Then Victoria's Secret recruited her to lead its swimwear team. She left in January 2006 to create her own luxury collection and became the toast of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week two years later. Her work has been featured in Elle, Vogue and People among other fashion mags.
4. Who Is Nicholas Brooks? One look at his Facebook page, where he's toking on what looks to be a marijuana pipe, reveals this guy liked to party. Brooks is the son of Oscar-winning 72-year-old composer Joseph Brooks, who wrote the '70s hit "You Light Up My Life." The elder Brooks made headlines last year after he was indicted on 82 counts of sexually assaulting young starlets in his Big Apple pad from 2005 to 2008. He's now free on bail, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Sylvie's mom told the Daily News that the younger Brooks, had "had a bad life." But her daughter fell for him, she said, after her dog got run over by a car a couple of months ago and he consoled her and the two bonded. "She liked to save people," said Sylvia, referring to Brooks. Her mom added that Sylvie also didn't do drugs, drink or smoke. "She wasn't that kind of girl," said her father.
5. Timeline Leading Up to Sylvie's Death: A neighbor who lived below Cachay heard her and Brooks arguing in her West Village pad Wednesday night, a few hours before she died. "I heard her crying and him stomping around. Then I heard a loud crash in her apartment like someone was thrown on the floor. A few minutes later, I could hear her whimpering," the neighbor, identified as Judy, told the Gothamist.
Sources at Soho House told the magazine the twosome went there after Brooks set a small fire at her apartment when he left a candle going near her bed. The pair put out the blaze but decided to stay elsewhere because of the "smokey smell." No word if the argument had to do with the fire.
Per the New York Times, a few hours later hotel employees entered Room 20 and found everything in its right place, save noise of running water coming from the bathtub. That's when they discovered Sylvie unconscious and called 911. When EMTs arrived, they began CPR but she was pronounced dead at about 3:34 a.m. Thursday.
Brooks, who was not in the room, showed up at 3:30 a.m. and told police who were on the scene his story. He said he had left the hotel about 2 a.m. to go get some food. He was taken to a nearby precinct for questioning but so far has not been charged with anything. The medical examiner is investigating but there's been no determination that it's a homicide yet.
UPDATE at 12:15 p.m. PT: NYPD is seeking a search warrant to obtain a sample of Brooks' DNA as well as test the skin under his fingernails to determine whether there's evidence to determine whether Cachay died of foul play. Brooks is still detained but is consulting a lawyer.
Additionally, the medical examiner's office confirmed that the initial autopsy on Sylvie's body was inconclusive; toxicology test results won't be available for several weeks.
UPDATE at 1:55 p.m. PT: The NYPD has been granted the search warrant. Brooks still has not been charged with any crimes but remains in custody.