Murder of 21-year-old Erica Vassell by Theophilus Brooks investigated on ID

Mugshot of Theophilus Brooks
Theophilus Brooks was sentenced to 45 years for the murder of Erica Vassell. Pic credit: Florida Dept. of Corrections

Investigation Discovery is examining the heartbreaking case of Erica Vassell from Clewiston, Florida, who was brutally murdered in the aftermath of a Super Bowl party by Theophilus Brooks.

In 2011, Erica was a much-beloved 21-year-old beauty pageant winner who had high hopes of a career in either medicine or massage therapy. Unfortunately, her life suddenly came to an abrupt end one night after a party.

On February 6, Erica last saw her family just before attending a Super Bowl party at a club in Clewiston. Tragically, she never came home and was never seen alive again.

Her family became concerned when she failed to reappear, and despite constant phone calls, they were unable to reach her.

A search for the young woman came to a tragic end when her remains were located on a desolate stretch of road in Glades County. She was left by the side of the road next to a sugar cane field.

She was fully clothed, which led the investigators to assume that she hadn’t been sexually assaulted.

The police determined that she had probably been killed in the middle of the night, the early hours of February 7, after the Super Bowl, and that she had probably been killed in Clewiston in Hendry County, but that the killer then drove her remains into Glade County.

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In the early days of the case, the police were left completely stumped as to who had killed her, and they appealed to the public for any help.

Erica Vassell spotted with strange man before murder

Her father, Eric, told the police that he had seen her with an unknown man not long before her murder. His car had Texas plates, and his daughter had described him as her boyfriend from out of town.

The family also said that Erica could be quite outspoken and that it was possible she had angered someone with her manner.

However, a breakthrough came in the case a month later when on March 17, the cops arrested Clewiston man Theophilus Brooks and charged him with the murder.

In May of 2011, the prosecution announced that they would attempt to have the death penalty imposed on Brooks. This would have required them to have the initial charge of second-degree murder switched to first-degree.

Erica’s sister Jackie Simpson had previously said of the perpetrator: “They need the chair, they don’t need prison time. They need to feel what she felt.”

And in June, the prosecution succeeded in having the charge upgraded to first-degree murder.

However, in 2014, Brooks agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder. The prosecution excepted this outcome, and it led to a punishment of 45 years in prison. He is currently scheduled for release in 2056, when he’ll be 73 years old.

More from Investigation Discovery

Follow the links to read about more crimes profiled on ID.

Andrew Finch was an innocent man shot dead by police officers at his home in Wichita, Kansas. His death was the result of a swatting prank. Tyler Barriss had hoax dialed 911 and told the dispatcher that a murder and hostage situation was occurring at Finch’s home.

Investigators began to get suspicious when the women in Steven Catlin’s life began mysteriously dying. They learned that he’d poisoned two of his wives and his mother and is suspected of killing his father.

Murder After The Big Game airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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