Carole Marie Brooks described herself as a healer. The Santa Rosa masseuse who was gunned down 10 days ago at her massage office near downtown Santa Rosa surrounded herself with spiritual charms, costumes and dance.
Brooks, 60, called her work full-body sensual massage, a gentler description of the sexual services she performed for male clients, often arranged through the Internet, in addition to her regular massage practice.
Though known to police and to others in Sonoma County's network of sex workers, the nature of Brooks' practice was unknown to many in her community of fellow dancers, artists and spiritual seekers.
"I don't think any of us had any idea," said Brooks' friend Star Dewar, 63, of Santa Rosa. "It made me feel even worse that I considered myself her friend and she didn't tell me about that part of her life."
Brooks' slaying also may have uncovered the secret life of a Stockton man police said shot her within minutes of arriving at her Clark Street massage studio.
John Quincy Ellis, 46, a truck driver who lived with his two children and with his ex-wife in a platonic arrangement at his Stockton home, had only a "negligible" criminal history, police said.
Ellis, who was connected to Brooks' slaying through his rental car, apparently committed suicide the next day by running onto Interstate 5 near Stockton, where he was hit by a big rig truck.
Ellis may be linked by additional evidence to unsolved crimes outside Sonoma County that are both violent and "sexual in nature," Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Steve Fraga said.
Local detectives are working closely with law enforcement in at least one other jurisdiction, Fraga said, but more details about that case won't be released until a connection is more certain.
Detectives still don't know if Ellis was a returning client, Fraga said. Nor do they know why Ellis drove his personal car to a Stockton Hertz Rent-a-Car agency on the morning of Feb. 5 and drove a Nissan Versa to the granny unit where Brooks worked.
Ellis and Brooks had arranged for the appointment through text messages, Fraga said. However the messages didn't specify the nature of his visit.
"We don't have a conversation that discusses anything more than an appointment," Fraga said.
The small rented unit sits back from the residential street between Brookwood Avenue and E Street on a gravel driveway. The studio was outfitted as a massage practice, with a table, incense, tuning forks and other body work tools, Fraga said.
"I have high suspicions that she may have been involved in more than just massage, but we have zero proof," Fraga said.
Brooks grew up in San Francisco and was known as Tania to many, her friends said. As a youth, she trained in ballet and in adulthood spent many years dancing and teaching dance in Paris. She had her eldest of two daughters in France, said friend Jan Kucker of Santa Rosa.
A video called "Paris Dancer" on YouTube shows photographs of Brooks posed in flowing Greek-like tunics at what's described as "sacred" locations around the French city.
"She was exquisite when she was dancing, she took you back in time," Kucker said.
Kucker said they became friends after Brooks visited her in 1999 for a psychic reading, and they shared friends who attended classes on holistic and alternative spirituality.
Model Trains Spectacular!
The exhibit continues through Jan. 7 at the Healdsburg Museum, 221 Matheson St., from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission is free.