Fingernail swabs taken of beau in NY bathtub death

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NEW YORK (AP) - Investigators on Friday were taking fingernail swabs from the boyfriend of a fashion designer found dead in a bathtub at a posh hotel in the hopes of finding evidence that may help them determine how she died.

Police obtained a search warrant that also allowed them to take photos of Nicholas Brooks, the 24-year-old son of “You Light Up My Life” songwriter Joseph Brooks. He has been with police since his girlfriend, Sylvie Cachay, was discovered around 3 a.m. Thursday at the Soho House hotel. Police were looking for any possible signs of struggle or trauma, said chief NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

Nicholas Brooks has not been charged with a crime and remains cooperative with investigators. He had an attorney, but police said they didn’t know the lawyer’s name. An attorney for Brooks‘ father, who is in separate legal trouble, did not know who was representing Nicholas and said the songwriter had no comment on the case.

The medical examiner’s office said Friday that toxicology tests were being performed on the body after an initial autopsy was unable to conclusively pinpoint the cause of death. Such tests typically take days.

The 33-year-old Cachay, wearing a black top and underwear, was found submerged in the oval tub, face-up after hotel staff noticed the ceiling below her room was leaking. Investigators said she had some red marks around her neck and a bite mark on her hand.

A bottle of prescription pills was found in the room, but no illegal drugs were found.

Before the body was found, Brooks was seen leaving the hotel, then returning and leaving again. According to police, he told investigators he ran into a friend at the lobby, and the two left to go get drinks. He returned around 3:30 a.m. to find police at the room.

Cachay lived in an apartment in Manhattan’s West Village, but had a membership to the exclusive club frequented by celebrities. That meant she had access to the rooftop pool, where “Sex and the City” episodes were filmed, and was able to rent one of the 24 guests rooms at a discount. The hotel has hosted stars like Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts.

There had been a small bedroom fire sparked by a candle at her apartment earlier in the week, and that may have led her to stay at the Soho House, Browne said.

Cachay and Brooks had been dating about six months, and investigators said some of her friends told them he was erratic. The woman’s mother, Sylvia Cachay of McLean, Va., outside Washington, said the two started dating after Sylvie’s poodle was struck by a car and killed.

“He helped her through all this process, and they became boyfriend and girlfriend,” she told WTTG-TV, a local Fox affiliate. “Sylvie always had this idea of helping people, and I think this boy needed help in directing his life.”

But on a family vacation in Cancun just two weeks ago, Sylvie told her mother the relationship was over.

“She told me, ‘Mommy, we are just friends right now. He’s trying, but I told him that I don’t want to have a serious relationship or consider marriage if he does not change,’” the mother said.

“My heart is just broken,” she said.

Cachay grew up with dual citizenship, splitting her time between Peru and McLean. She graduated from Marymount University with a degree in design. She worked for Victoria’s Secret, but left the lingerie empire in 2006 to start a swimsuit collection, but had been working at fashion houses again after the economy tanked and she lost her backing.

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