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The mysterious 2004 death of Alonzo Brooks in Kansas — whose case was profiled on the recently rebooted “Unsolved Mysteries”— has been ruled a homicide following a new autopsy.
The injuries found on Brooks’ body were not consistent with typical decomposition and suggest foul play, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
“We knew that Alonzo Brooks died under very suspicious circumstances,” Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard said in the statement. “This new examination by a team of the world’s best forensic pathologists and experts establishes it was no accident. Alonzo Brooks was killed. We are doing everything we can, and will spare no resources, to bring those responsible to justice.”
Brooks’ body was found in a creek in La Cygne, Kansas on May 1, 2004 nearly a month after he was last seen at a party at a nearby farmhouse, according to a statement last year from the Department of Justice announcing a $100,000 reward for information in the case.
The initial autopsy was unable to determine a cause of death; however, Brooks’ body was exhumed last year by federal authorities as part of a new look into the case. The body was taken to Dover Air Force Base where it was examined by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, according to the FBI.
Brooks had been one of only three African-American men at the party of approximately 100 people and there is some speculation that race may have been a factor in his death.
The FBI said last year it is treating the case as a “potential racially motivated crime” after rumors circulated that some “drunken white men wanted to fight an African-American male” and others suggested “racist whites simply resented Brooks’ presence” at the party, according to the Department of Justice.
Brooks had driven to the party from his Gardner, Kansas home with several friends, but they departed before him, leaving him with “no ride home,” authorities said.
The sheriff’s department and other law enforcement agencies searched the farmhouse and areas of Middle Creek shortly after Brooks disappeared but found no trace of the 23-year-old.
Then, nearly a month later, Brooks’ family and friends searched the area again and found his body in less than an hour “partially on top of a pile of brush and branches in the creek,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The FBI decided to reopen the case after they were approached by filmmakers from “Unsolved Mysteries” who profiled the case in their new revival of the show last year.
“We are investigating whether Alonzo was murdered,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said last year. “His death certainly was suspicious, and someone, likely multiple people, know(s) what happened that night in April 2004. It is past time for the truth to come out. The code of silence must be broken. Alonzo’s family deserves to know the truth, and it is time for justice to be served.”
Brooks’ friend Daniel Fune said on “Unsolved Mysteries” that the night Brooks disappeared he had gotten into an argument with some of the people at the party.
Others told the production crew that Brooks had been the subject of racially motivated insults.
“There were some people at the party who, you know, had some problems with people’s skin color,” friend Justin Sprague said.
Brooks’ sister Demetria Leslie previously told People that his family had not been welcome in the town during their search efforts.
“They made us leave the town, they kept telling us to get out,” Leslie said. “When we tried to go around and put flyers up and ask the people in the town, ‘Have you seen my brother,’ some of them went and talked to us, some of them turned their nose up. And as soon as we would tape up the signs around that town, they went and ripped them right back down.”
Anyone with information about the case, is urged to contact authorities.
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