This is the second in a two-part series about letters sent from Darrell Brooks Jr. during his stay in Wisconsin jails.
WAUKESHA, Wis. – FIRST ON FOX: Waukesha Christmas parade suspect Darrell Brooks Jr. divulged details of his life, criticized the mother of one of his children and implied that he was unable to pay child support because he kept “getting incarcerated” in a letter sent to a Wisconsin judge in 2011 pertaining to one of his paternity cases, Fox News has learned.
Brooks, 39, sent two letters to court officials over the course of two years in connection with the child support case for one of his children. In the first letter, he asked for one “more shot” and complained that he was being treated unfairly.
The second, obtained by Fox News Digital through a records search, is longer – three pages total – and was sent to a different official, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Pieper, asking the jurist not to send him back to Waukesha jail.
Brooks has three kids, according to records and one person who knew him. As of Nov. 16, 2021, Brooks owed $41,239.36 in connection with his paternity case for his son, records show.
He sent the second letter in late August or early September 2011 – at which point his child support-related debts had surpassed $17,300 – from Wood County Jail to Pieper and the clerk of courts, he wrote.
The letters provide a glimpse into the mind of a man now facing six life sentences if convicted on all charges related to the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy of Nov. 21, when he drove his maroon Ford Escape SUV into the crowd of revelers. Six parade-goers died.
At the time, Brooks said he had been incarcerated since March and was serving an 11-month sentence, though he does not say why.
“It is my understand that I have [a] warrant in Waukesha County due to a court proceeding that I attempted to be present at by phone on 12-3-10,” he wrote, in neat cursive handwriting. He notes that the case is regarding his son, whose name is being withheld by Fox News Digital, and says the last time he appeared before the court, he was “given 45 days huber,” referring to a work-search program and a related facility.
“Since my release, I’ve had all kinds of trouble personal and legal,” he explained.
Brooks wrote to the jurist that he had mental health issues for which he received S.S.I. benefits, presumably referring to Supplemental Security Income. He had received these benefits since he was a child and “was deemed disabled by the Federal Government,” he wrote.
“The reason my benefits were stopped, was because I was getting incarcerated,” he continued. “My benefits were scheduled to start back up in May of last year, at which time I would have been able to pay my support. This did not happen because I was incarcerated from Feb. – May 31st of last year.”
He added: “Everytime your (sic) incarcerated, your benefits are held up … If your (sic) familiar with this process, it [c]an take months, even years to recieve (sic) your benefits back.”
He went on to say that the process was taking even longer for him because his case “has been started and stopped on numerous occations (sic).”
Returning back to the Dec. 3, 2010 that was the initial topic of the letter, Brooks told Pieper in the letter that he was out of town visiting one of his other children, a daughter, who was sick and in need of kidney surgery.
“Needless to say, this was a trying time for me and my family,” he wrote, noting that he had “absolutely no knowledge” that he was supposed to attend a hearing that day, and said he had only found out the morning before he was supposed to be in court. He tried attending by phone, he said.
Brooks then told the judge he returned to Wisconsin because his daughter’s surgery was delayed – “due to her mother not having insurance. How do you have 3 kids and no insurance?” he wrote.
He said he was offered a job with his godmother and had applied to attend a technical college, but both were held up because of his incarceration.
“I’m not trying to make excuses for myself your honor. I understand I have a responsibility to pay my support,” he wrote. “I just want the court to take into consideration that if I can be given a few months on the streets to get my benefits going, my support will be paid …”
He asked the judge to also consider his mental health.
“Because of this, I’ve always had trouble getting a job cause (sic) they are always afraid to touch me. The concern is always my mental health and what I can and cant (sic) do. The fact that I’m a felon doesn’t help me either your honor.”
Brooks wrote to the judge that it was “never my intention” to be unable to support his son.
“Yes I’ve not been fortunate to have the best hand in life, but this is not my fault or anyone else’s. It’s life,” he said.
He added that he grew up in a broken home in which his father “chose [the] bottle over his children and couldn’t keep his hands off” Brooks’ mother.
“I’m more committed than ever to take care of my son,” he says. “I’m in his life, and he’s a bright, ambitious and wonderful kid.”
He asks Judge Pieper for the opportunity “to prove I can be the man my mother and GOD, and also myself, knows I can be.”
He then asks the judge to release him so he can help support his family.
“My family needs my help your honor, he writes. “If I can be released your honor and given just a few months, I know I can get the ball rolling in the right direction. I pray everyday (sic) that I can be released to help my family before things fall apart.”
Pieper did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment regarding the letter.
On Tuesday, the mother of his son told Fox News Digital that she and Brooks had dated for six months when she was a teenager. The woman, who asked that her name be withheld due to concerns about her safety, said she’s barely interacted with Brooks in the last two decades.
“He’s always been in and out of jail — he hasn’t been present,” she said. “I raised my son without him.”
Brooks has come and gone from her son’s life, making sporadic attempts to forge a relationship with him, she said. The teen, who last saw Brooks a few years ago, was gutted by the carnage allegedly wrought by his father, she said.
Court papers regarding the paternity case were filed as recently as Nov. 18 – three days before the parade tragedy.
Brooks’ child support woes were also noted during his Nov. 23 court appearance related to the horror. During the appearance, Brooks cried and at times audibly sobbed as Court Commissioner Kevin Costello and District Attorney Susan Opper spoke, including when Opper announced that a sixth victim – the first child – had succumbed to his injuries.
The six victims range in age from 8 to 81 years old, and have been identified as Jackson Sparks, 8; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; LeAnna Owen, 71; Virginia Sorenson, 79; and Wilhelm, 81.
“I have not seen anything like this in my very long career,” Costello said at the time.
On Wednesday, Brooks’ family released a statement to local news station CBS 58 regarding the tragedy and Brooks’ mental health.
“We the family of Darrell Brooks want to give our condolence to the families of those who lives were so tragically taken and all of those who were injured as well as the community of Waukesha. We are deeply saddened and our hearts are torn to pieces over what happened on a day set aside for a community to come together and celebrate,” the statement reads. “Darrell has suffered from mental health issues since he was very young … Instead of offering help and resources to combat the problem a jail cell was given. Over and over again. When mental illness is not properly treated the person becomes sicker and sicker. It doesn’t go away once a person becomes an adult.
It continues: “We are not making excuses but we believe what has happened is because he was not given the help and resources he needed. Institutions that are equipped and have trained staff is what was needed as well as resources in the communities where people who suffer with mental illness live.”
Brooks has been charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and ordered held on $5 million cash bail. His current criminal attorneys declined to comment for this story, while a civil attorney listed in records could not immediately be reached.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.