Tahlequah Daily Press

July 1, 2013

Details unveiled in man’s death

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Investigators this week unveiled new details in the suspicious death of a Cookson man whose body was found outside his home last February.

Bradford Brooks, 56, was found Feb. 20. Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. Bob Sanders said authorities first believed Brooks – a disabled veteran with health issues – died as a result of a medical problem.

But evidence uncovered at the scene – including blood spots inside the home – later led investigators to suspect Brooks’ death was suspicious. Brooks was found clothed, but was not wearing shoes or socks on a day when the area had been blanketed in snow.

A preliminary report by the state’s medical examiner confirmed Brooks had been beaten before he died, and suffered visible injuries to his head and other parts of his body.

Investigators believe Brooks’ home was burglarized and at some point, he ended up in an altercation with a suspect or suspects.

Eight days after Brooks’ body was discovered, his trailer and nearby shop building caught fire. Investigators determined the fires were started intentionally.

While following up on leads, investigators pinpointed one possible suspect in the arson – a teenage boy who lived near Brooks. That boy was admitted, the same day as the fire at Brooks’ residence, into a mental health facility in Arkansas, according to Sanders. He was later interviewed by Sanders, and denied any involvement in the arson.

The boy returned to Cherokee County and reportedly began to run away from home. He was picked up by Sheriff’s Sgt. Tommy Moore last week when he was spotted at a local residence, hiding in a shed.

Sanders again interviewed the teen, and he allegedly confessed to setting the fire at Brooks’ home and shop “just for the excitement of watching the fire.”

Sanders is asking prosecutors to file arson charges against the boy and to send him to a juvenile facility. The teen will turn 18 in October, investigators said.

Sanders believes information gathered as part of the arson investigation will help gather new details on Brooks’ suspicious death.

Anyone with information about the February death of Bradford Brooks is asked to call Sanders at (918) 456-2583.