Gay killer gets 75 years to life
Gay victim found in “rock sculpture”
Published Thursday, 01-Jul-2010 in issue 1175
The daughter of an elderly gay man who was strangled and encased inside a concrete egg told the man’s killer in court Tuesday she was “horrified by the heartless way he disposed of my father’s body” and hoped he will “be forever haunted” by what he had done.
Clad in a green jail jumpsuit with chains around his waist and feet, Thomas Jeffrey Brooks, 41, maintained his silence and said nothing before he was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison for the 2008 murder of Edward Andrews, 80. Andrews was found with a belt tightened around his neck inside a concrete egg that Thomas left in the backyard of a house in the 3400 block of Alabama Street in North Park. Thomas placed the body in a fetal position inside chicken wire, plastic wrapping, and covered it with a purple blanket before mixing cement around it. One of the roommates in the house said Thomas made it as part of a rock sculpture garden for the backyard. Brooks, who is also gay, met Andrews as “pen pals” through a gay magazine while he was in prison for possession of child pornography and went to live with Andrews in Hemet after he was paroled in 2007. Brooks pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and 13 counts of burglary involving the use of Andrews’ credit cards and bank ATM card on March 19. “It’s not anticipated he will be paroled,” said San Diego Superior Court Judge David Gill. “He’ll die in custody within the Department of Corrections.”
Gill fined Brooks $10,000, and ordered him to pay $34,471 in restitution to banks and credit card companies. That amount also includes approximately $9,000 in funeral expenses. Brooks was given credit for already serving 684 days in jail. “He pretended friendship to my Dad, and deliberately began to steal from him,” said Linda Runions, the victim’s daughter. “I would prefer a death penalty that works. This is the best we can do,” said Runions. Brooks’ attorney, Gary Gibson, said his client agreed to plead guilty to avoid a possible death sentence if the case went to trial. Brooks agreed to accept a 75-year sentence when he pleaded guilty.
Brooks had an accomplice, Arlo Elizarraraz, 20, who pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder after the fact and to 55 counts of fraudulent use of the victim’s credit cards. Elizarraraz was sentenced Feb. 11 to nine years in prison and also was ordered to help pay $24,625 in restitution. Deputy District Attorney Dino Paraskevopoulos said Andrews was a former Methodist minister who was married for 25 years and he and his wife had three children. His wife died, and Andrews later came to the realization he was gay, and had a male lover for 20 years, the prosecutor said. “To murder someone is horrific no matter how it is done, but for our father to be treated and murdered the way he was disposed of is beyond evil,” wrote Terry Andrews in a letter that was read in court. Andrews disappeared on May 31, 2008, leaving behind medications and a cat inside a mobile home. A neighbor testified she received a typed letter that claimed to be from Andrews, but it made her even more suspicious because her name was misspelled repeatedly. The letter, written by Brooks, claimed that he and Andrews were lovers and were traveling in Europe. Runions testified last Dec. that she didn’t believe her father was in Europe because he didn’t have a passport. She said she found a good home for her father’s beloved cat.
Brooks turned up in downtown San Diego, using an alias and was able to rent a condominium from money he took from Andrews’ bank account. Brooks and Elizarraraz made some counterfeit checks which were deposited in Andrews’ account, and they withdrew $25,000 in cash, said the prosecutor. Ben Mason, the owner of the condo that Brooks rented, lived in the Alabama Street house with two other roommates. He said Brooks volunteered to do landscaping in their yard. Elizarraraz admitted to buying cement and other materials, but said he didn’t know Brooks was making a concrete egg to hide a body. Mason testified Brooks made what looked like to him as an ugly “paper mache rock.” He tried to help move the object, but he said it weighed 300 pounds. Brooks was arrested on August 8, 2008, for murder, but the body was missing.
One of Mason’s roommates broke open a section of the concrete egg and called the others after noticing a horrible smell on Sept. 5, 2008. Saying he was experiencing a “weird ‘Twilight Zone’ moment,” Mason testified he saw “a shriveled foot” inside the structure. The roommates then called police. Police surrounded the site with yellow tape and interviewed the roommates individually. None of them knew exactly what they had found, and Mason only knew Brooks from renting the condo to him. Runions concluded her remarks in court Tuesday by saying this: “We are taught that the desire for revenge is wrong, but I hope that as long as Brooks lives, he will be forever haunted by the memory of what it was like to take my father’s life, and by the knowledge that his own greed and temper led him to never again be free.”