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In the Mind of a Murderer

Updated on August 20, 2013
JT Walters profile image

JT Walters has a Master's of Science in Behavoralism from Florida State University. She is a researcher in many professions in Florida.

My Childhood Recollection

This article is written exclusively on my first hand childhood recollection of the events leading up to the murder of Angel Ann Halstead and my childhood interactions with Brooks Bellay who has a parole hearing on Wednesday on August 21, 2013. Amazingly, he is sentenced to life in prison but is up for parole.

The events are true in this article and you will have an opportunity to allow your opinion be heard to the Parole Board which is considering releasing Mr. Bellay back into society.

I have had the honor and privilege to meet this heroic family as they fight to keep their loved one's murder behind bars and through this parole hearing process.

This hub is not for the faint of heart so I have omitted the truly gruesome aspects of the case but it is the courage, strength and resolve the Halstead family has shown throughout this process is miraculous.

In the Beginning

In the 1970(s) Vero Beach was a quaint little town in which you could go to bed at night and not lock your doors. There was a great sense of security in that we all knew each other and we were a very tight knit family. Although I had grown up on the beach my parents were certain to involve us in the recreation department which my Father, County Commissioner, firmly believed in financially supporting organized sports for the children of this community. And that is how we met Brooks. He played football for the local recreation department. I was friends with his sister while my older brother was friends with Brooks. He had been in our home and we had been to his home. We were also close friends with his neighbors.

Brooks was awkward and in direr need being the center of attention. The problem for Brooks was the more attention he needed the more he brought light to the fact that he was a deeply troubled individual. It was a vicious cycle for Brooks.

Puberty hit Brooks particularly hard. Although he had managed to reign in his sexually inappropriate behavior infront of adults he didn’t mind displaying it to his peers. By the time Brooks was 12 he was almost completely alienated from his peers. He was often seen at the ball park infront of the High School with a younger child. Between Brooks sexually inappropriate behavior and his infatuation with younger children it became clear to us that Brooks was a sexual predator. Of course pretending not to know something or consent by silence is always a person’s best protection. I often wondered why adults didn’t see it but Brooks was apart of our community and was considered one of us. I don’t think anyone really wanted to believe that one of us was capable of such horrific acts. We trusted Brooks as a member of our family and that was the mentality of Vero Beach back then. It was a time of innocence.

Perhaps the most difficult differentiation to make was to discern whether Brooks was truly a sexual predator was sexually dysfunctional or simply demonstrating even more bizarre behavior in yet another attention seeking ploy. Sadly, the answer came in the death of 4 year old Angel Ann Halstead.

Brooks Bellay


The Toll Of Brooks

As I recall, I was friends with neighbors of the Bellays and the Halsteads although I never knew Angel. So when Angel disappeared and I heard Brooks was involved in the search, my thoughts were, “he has finally gotten the attention he was seeking.”. I imagined he had the girl tied up somewhere but would ultimately be the “hero” and find her. I also imagined he had raped her as we all believed Brooks was a sexual predator of young children. As the search progressed it was clear that Angel would not be found alive. As a qualification of law I believe sex between minors at the time was not legally defined as pedophilia because both participants were under the age of consent and it was considered sexual experimentation. I disagree with this law entirely and believe Brooks to be a pedophile because of the decade age difference. Brooks was well organized for a fourteen year old murder albeit he confessed to rape as well. He made certain he lead the authorities away from the body of Angel keeping the spot light on himself and off the victim. But Brooks was bright enough and organized enough to know that when he finally led the authorities, after 36 hours, to the body he would have no witnesses as Angel was dead. Yes, when they found Angel dead I knew it was Brooks. There was no doubt in my mind because he had demonstrated a pattern of sexual dysfunction, sexual predatorily behavior towards young children, was isolated from his same age peers, and was attention seeking. He had finally obtained the spotlight to be the “hero son of Vero Beach”.

The impact on the Halstead family will be life long. For them there will never be justice as they will never be able to have Angel back. As a firm believer in restorative justice, there is nothing Brooks can do to restore Angel, the Halstead family or Vero Beach; the family he betrayed. He can never give any of the aforementioned peace of mind and the last thing Brooks Bellay needs is more attention and another opportunity to be a sexual predator/pedophile in any community. While he is a model inmate there is not much opportunity for Brooks to offend in jail as he likes little children.

The death of Angel Ann Halstead was three fold. It was the death of a young innocent girl, the death of Brooks Bellay’s ability for restorative justice and finally the death of the innocence of Vero Beach. Vero Beach can heal and grieve with the Halstead family by maintaining eternal vigilance protecting the young, infirm and elderly of our community. We can be aware that people like Brooks Bellay walk amongst us every day and we can ask that they not be paroled back into society.

When the Halstead Family contacted me I was more than happy to assist them in their attempts to stop Brooks Bellay’s parole. So quietly behind the scenes I have been helping and supporting the Halstead Family because I am a firm believer in victims’ rights. All of us lost the day Brooks took Angel. He made all of us victims to varying degrees. I doubt anyone has considered the social impact Mr. Bellay has had on our community but we can as a community say “No More!” as an adaptive skill, healing, uniting and by being eternal stewards of the truth of the rape and murder of four year old Angel Ann Halstead even when those memories are too painful for us to remember.

Personally, having seen individuals with far less in very difficult home life situations grow up to become leaders of our community has made me realize Brooks made a choice. He has far more advantages than many. We all have a choice now too. We can summon the strength to grieve and help the Halstead Family in their quest to keep Mr. Bellay behind bars. It will be our catharsis from Brooks Bellay and warning to any other aspiring child killers, that Vero Beach is vigilant, has a long reach, and an even longer memory.

What You Can Do To Stop the Release of Brooks Bellay

We all have a stake in social justice and to keep ir children safe. You have the power to make a difference in this case. Below is a link to two petitions whith you can sign. You can also share those petitions on your Facebook pages and Google+ so that all child rapists and murders know that we are ever vigilant in society protecting the young, infirm and elderly. We may forgive but we never forget.

Please take the time to sign and share to keep Brooks off the streets as his hearing is on Wednesday, August 21, 2013.

Trust me. He is counting on society to be too lazy and self absorbed sign petitions let alone share them with their churches and families.

In Summation

I was really ethically challenged writing this article. I have bared more of my soul to my reader and brought up very painful memories of my childhood but for a very good reason. The Halstead family as all families victimizemy by violent crime need community support. What has been taken from them can never be replaced but we cabe help them whether it is by writing an article on the internet, signing a petition or sharing that petition with our friends and encouraging them to sign it.

I also wanted to share a photo with you of Angel the voiceless victim who that family fights so diligently for each and everyday. But it is the Halsteads who suffer and I prefer to think of Angel at peace. Many of the links in this article have photos of Angel.

Brooks Bellay's Parole

Do You Think Brooks Bellay Should Ne Granted Parole?

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Brooks Bellay Not a Registered Sex Offender

Are you Comfortable with Brooks's Release Given He Confessed to Rape but was not Charged and therefore Upon Release will not be a Registered Sex Offender and can Live by Elementary Schools.

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