ARDMORE, AL (KFVS) - The truth about his past changed her life.
Just three days before we learned Robert Eugene Brashers killed Portageville mother and daughter Sherry and Megan Scherer, Deborah Brashers got police confirmation her father was a serial killer and rapist.
I recently traveled to Ardmore, Alabama to talk exclusively with Deborah.
She’s struggling to wrap her brain around the news but desperately wanted answers not only for herself, but her father’s victims as well.
"My father was a serial killer."
Deborah Brashers said these words as if the more she said them, the more they might make sense.
“There are people who live to kill. And then there are people who have double lives that kill every now and then, obviously. That was my father. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
That double life began for Deborah when her dad got out of prison. She was five years old.
“I remember the truck pulling in the driveway and him getting out of it. I can visually see it.”
Robert Brashers quickly stepped into the role of dad, Deborah recalled, helping raise her and her twin half-sisters.
She shared a family photo, one of just two she has.
“He’s playing around with my sisters, acting like he’s choking them, you know. And they’re beating him with hairbrushes and I’m playing around with him, you know. It doesn’t look like a serial killer. Or a rapist.”
To Deborah, he looked like the ideal dad. He had his own construction company. He had business cards. She thought they were rich.
“And he would be gone for sometimes weeks at a time.”
Was he working? I asked her.
“That’s what we were told.”
But this two-year period in Deborah’s life came just months after her father raped a teenage girl in Memphis.
It came at the same time he took the lives of Sherry and Megan Scherer, and attacked a woman in Dyersburg.
After his arrest in Arkansas for attempted burglary in April 1998, Deborah recalled her dad started acting crazy.
“My mother would leave for work and tell us, ‘Do not let him out of the house.’”
Soon after, Robert Brashers was on the run.
“We would go pick him up. And my mom would make a game out of it. And we’d carry a rug. We’d buy a new rug every time we picked him up. And carry a rug in to where you couldn’t see around him.”
Deborah knew about her father’s suicide in a Kennett motel room, but her mom always questioned if police had actually pulled the trigger.
So, when a pair of officers knocked on her door in September 2018, she hesitated.
“And he said, ‘I’m here from Missouri State Police.’ And I said, ‘You’re here about my father.’ And they said, ‘How did you know?’ I said, ‘Because you’re from Missouri and that’s where he killed himself at. And I have a feeling that there’s something wrong.’”
They told her they were investigating a series of cold cases; rapes and murders. She found herself eager to help. Was there any hesitation at all when they said can we have a DNA sample? I asked her.
“They never even asked me. I asked them. I’m like, ‘do you want one?’ They’re like, ‘yes, we have the kit and everything in the car.’ I’m like, ‘I’ll give you one right now.’”
When they left, Deborah said she just knew.
“October second, they called me and said they’re on their way to Alabama. I said, ‘is it true?' They said, ‘we would not be coming if it wasn’t.’”
She would soon learn more than she ever had about her father, but the news would tear her inside out.
“I feel ashamed for it being my father. And I feel...every day I feel a different way about him. He never got charged. Never got caught. And got away with this for almost 20 years. Even being dead, got away with this for 20 years.”
Deborah Brashers can remember seeing just a few hints of her father's violent tendencies during the two years she lived with him.
“My grandmother always told my mother, ‘you let the devil in when you met this man.’”
Deborah learned about her father’s criminal past, the rapes and the murders, just two months before her mother passed away.
"It was like I really lost my mother and my father both within a four-month span. Because my mother actually passed away, but I lost who my father was."
Deborah said she’s spent the past few months remembering the time she spent with him.
She told a strange story about making an audio recording of him as he took a knife to his neck and arm.
"Never screamed. Never yelled. Never showed an ounce of pain. Anything in the tape whatsoever."
And why did he do that? I asked.
"Just to see if it hurt."
She also recalled a fight he got into with her step-father.
“And he hit him in the head with a drill, hit my father in the head with a drill. And my father looked up at him through all the blood coming down his face and said, ‘come on.’”
She said she only saw her dad being violent three times.
“One with my mom. He left a goose egg on my mother’s head. The only time he had ever put his hands on my mother.”
The second time came after Deborah said she swallowed a penny.
“The only time he had ever whooped me.”
The third time involved one of her older sisters when he thought the girls were being too loud at bedtime.
“He pulled my sister out of her bed by her hair and her pinky.”
Now two decades later, Deborah struggles to understand.
"Why choose to kill, then choose to only rape? And then choose to kill and rape? What...I don't.... And if he was alive and still in prison, what would I say to my father? Why? Why did you do this? What is....what is wrong with you? I want to know because I love a man who, if you search on Google, is a serial killer and serial rapist. And it's my father."
Brashers wants to know more about her father’s criminal past and why he kept getting out of prison early. That includes his attempted murder conviction in Florida five years before she was born.
I show her a portion of a script I wrote about the Florida case.
Twelve years in prison. Inexplicably, he’s out in less than five. Out in time to murder Genevieve Zitricki in April 1990.
"See? That's what I'm saying. I don't understand. Why was he released from Florida? There are so many lives that could have been saved. Maybe I understand I would have never been born. And I'm ok with that. I don't know if he was crazy. I don't know if he was mental. I don't know if he just done it for fun. I don't know none of that. And I can never answer any of those questions."
Deborah Brashers said she almost canceled this interview, but then decided talking about it helps. And she wants you to think about this.
"If there's somebody in your family that goes from being ok to acting really strange, think about that person you know? Watch that person's moves. Watch how they act. Because you never know how a person really is."
Deborah Brashers said she’s willing to talk to anyone connected to her father’s long reign of terror.
I am working with her right now to make that happen.