Brooke “Bee” Buchler's body was found inside the abandoned New Orleans Navy base weeks after meeting a man online. Her Slidell family is still searching for answers.
Chapter one: No Ordinary Passing
The massive outpouring at Brooke Buchler's funeral took her family by surprise.
“I don't know if she knew how much she meant to so many people. I think we were all kind of blown away by the people that came out,” said Brooke’s mother, Cristin Naquin.
To honor the 25-year-old Northshore native, known by her nickname “Bee,” people wrote heartfelt notes, brought photos, and shed tears along with Brooke's large extended family.
From Slidell High School classmates to friends at waitressing jobs in Olde Town, they recalled Brooke’s early efforts at cheerleading and basketball and her more recent passions for literature, astrology, and all things related to the TV series Game of Thrones.
But Brooke’s was no ordinary passing.
It's one thing to lose a loved one, another to lose a loved one to violence. But Brooke's steep slide from her free-spirited life to her nightmarish murder was so sudden, Naquin and her family can still barely talk about it.
When Brooke’s blended family came together, they were like a Northshore version of the Brady Bunch. When Cristin married Ronnie Naquin, both parents already had two children, each pair nearly matching in age.
Brittany was exactly a year and a day older than Brooke.
“I lost my pair,” Brittany said. “You know, the kids are in pairs, twos and twos. I lost my second.”
Brennan and Kloie were the “middle twins,” born two weeks apart and also brought together by the marriage.
“She was like a second mother to me for a long time because it was just me, mom and her in the house and mom worked,” Brennan recalled.
Two younger brothers would follow. They knew Brooke as the free spirit with a bit of a wild streak, but to them that meant working instead of going to college.
Getting tattoos, but literary quotations, planets, a lotus flower. She had recently dyed her hair platinum to look like Daenerys Targaryen, the Dragon Queen in Game of Thrones.
Shortly before she was killed, Brooke posted a selfie with two kittens she adopted.
“This doesn't happen to us,” said Brooke’s godmother Rhonda Dallimore.
Chapter two: Tragic Chain of Events
The tragic chain of events began at the end of July. Brooke was on a Florida beach trip with a friend when she met a man named David Faciane through the dating app Tinder. Friends say she was seeking a “plug” – street slang for trying to score marijuana – more than any type of romantic hookup.
“He set a lot of this in motion,” Dallimore said.
A week later when Faciane came to Slidell, where he has family, a romance was sparked.
But things quickly turned ominous.
In a selfie posted on social media that the family didn’t see until after the murder, Brooke and a shirtless Faciane are embracing on a couch as a sneering Faciane holds a small handgun, his finger on the trigger.
“She just let everybody have a chance. And I'm afraid she met somebody who shouldn't have it,” said Dallimore, who helped raised Brooke.
Friends say that within a period of two weeks, Brooke grew fearful of Faciane and reached out to an old high school friend for help: a 27-year-old named Dylan Craddock.
Craddock had been a friend of Brooke’s since high school.
“They had been friends for a long, long time and good friends,” Naquin said. “I think Dylan was somewhat like a brother.”
But as soon as Craddock entered the picture, the dark tunnel suddenly turned into a black hole. Over Brooke’s ill-fated final two weeks, family members stopped hearing from Brooke. No visits. No calls. No text messages.
Then, on Aug. 20, Faciane was dumped near death in a ditch outside of Bayou Pacquet Road near Slidell. He was bleeding badly from several blunt force injuries and a four-inch-long laceration that St. Tammany sheriff's deputies wrote was “likely caused by a cutting tool.”
Faciane told deputies he had been kidnapped by strangers, but quickly clammed up. After being taken to a Slidell hospital he snuck out of a few days later, then disappeared.
As police tried to identify Faciane’s attackers, social media began lighting up with possible suspects. One of those suspects was referred to as D.C., an online nickname used by Dylan Craddock.
“Our experience with them was that they look tough,” Brittany said, “but they're just Slidell boys.”
The next 48 hours turned frantic. Brooke was missing.
“I texted her, had to be twenty-five times, called her, just trying to figure out where she was, what she was doing,” Naquin said. “She just didn't respond.”
As the search intensified, Brooke's 18-year-old brother, Brennan, feared the worst.
“Just had a bad feeling and tried to, you know, I don't know, wrap my head around the fact that she probably wasn't going to come back,” Brennan said.
Chapter three: A Bloody Crime Scene
Brooke's body was found by a vagrant on Aug. 23 at the abandoned Naval Support base in the Bywater. The massive complex – anchored by three six-story concrete buildings – has become acres of blight overrun by looters, squatters and heroin addicts. Virtually every square foot of the outside of the buildings is covered in graffiti. The interior, stripped to the studs of anything of value, is littered with trash, destroyed furnishings and discarded hypodermic needles.
“To just be left alone there in an abandoned building in the dark by somebody that she knew is just unfathomable to me,” Naquin said, fighting back tears.
The crime scene was bloody. A police report stated that a large metal pipe was entangled in Brooke's hair. But her autopsy revealed the cause of death: a single bullet to the back of her head.
“We had no clue and we couldn't even fathom how she ended up there,” Naquin said.
Brooke was in the Orleans Parish morgue as a Jane Doe for three days before she was identified through fingerprints dating back to her one criminal conviction: possession of marijuana.
Months later, a toxicology report as part of her autopsy would reveal another harsh secret: heroin in her system.
“I had no idea. This is the last thing that I expected. She was a Slidell kid,” Naquin said.
Then, the final shocker: An arrest warrant was issued by New Orleans Police in Brooke's murder for Cody Matthews, 32, along with Brooke’s longtime friend, Dylan Craddock.
The warrant is currently on hold while the two men remain in custody in St. Tammany in the kidnapping and attempted murder of Faciane.
With no pending court dates, the progress of the cases against the men remains unknown.
The Slidell Police Department declined to comment. The NOPD issued this statement: “There are no updates available at this time regarding this investigation. The previously named suspects remain incarcerated in the St. Tammany Parish Prison facing charges in that jurisdiction.”
Brooke’s family is growing anxious.
“I have so many questions because I don't truly know what happened. I just don't know,” Naquin said.
In another bizarre twist, Faciane has since joined Matthews and Craddock inside St. Tammany Parish jail. He was arrested three months after he escaped from the hospital on a series of old arrest warrants and missed court dates.
Like Faciane, Matthews and Craddock have lengthy rap sheets.
“I can't put it together in a way that makes logical sense,” Dallimore said.
As the family braces for more digging by detectives and, ultimately, court cases that could reveal more dark details, they are trying to come to grips with Brooke’s sudden and frightening demise.
“It's very scary to think that your child or anybody you love could meet somebody. And somebody three weeks later could have destroyed their lives that quickly,” Dallimore said.
“It's still, to this day, unbelievable,” Cristin Naquin said. “I still go to sleep every night hoping I'm going to wake up and it won't be real. It won't be our lives. It's not us. It's not her.”