“We are investigating whether Alonzo was murdered,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a statement on June 11. “His death certainly was suspicious, and someone, likely multiple people, know what happened that night in April 2004.”
The FBI has exhumed the body of a man found dead in 2004 a month after he disappeared from a house party in Kansas — a cold case that received renewed attention earlier this month when it was featured in the Netflix reboot of "Unsolved Mysteries." The suspicious death of Alonzo Brooks has been on the FBI radar since at least 2019, when the bureau first reopened the case. On Tuesday, authorities used a backhoe to unearth Brooks' body at a cemetery in Topeka.
Brooks was 23 at the time, and one of only three Black men in a crowd of 100 guests, according to the FBI. He had arrived there with friends who got lost in the crowd and departed early, leaving Brooks without a ride home. In later interviews with authorities, no one at the party appeared to know or admit what happened to him.
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From the beginning, there were rumors that Brooks had been the victim of foul play, according to the FBI.
Detectives were told that Brooks had possibly flirted with a girl at the party, which may have stirred up racial tensions among some of the partygoers.
“Some said drunken white men wanted to fight an African American male, and some said racist whites simply resented Brooks’ presence,” according to the FBI.
When Brooks failed to return home the next day, his family called the Linn County Sheriff’s Department, which launched a search for Brooks around the farmhouse, including parts of nearby Middle Creek. The search turned up nothing.
A month later, family and friends began their own search and found Brooks’ decomposed body within an hour lying on top of a pile of brush in the creek bed.
When Alonzo Brooks failed to return home the day after a farmhouse party, his family called the Linn County Sheriff’s Department, which launched a search for Brooks around the house, including parts of nearby Middle Creek. However, the search turned up nothing. A month later, family and friends began their own search and found Brooks’ decomposed body within an hour lying on top of a pile of brush in the creek bed.
Credit: Social media photo via Twitter
Credit: Social media photo via Twitter
The autopsy could not determine an official cause of death, but Brooks’ mother, Maria Ramirez, believes her son was the victim of a hate crime.
“I’m Mexican, and his father is Black,” Ramirez told “NBC Dateline” in June. “So he’s mixed. They didn’t just target one race. Or kill one race. They killed two. He was targeted because of the color of his skin.”
How Brooks went unnoticed in plain sight for a whole month is one of the biggest unknowns in the case.
Desperate for answers, the bureau on June 11 raised the stakes when U.S. Attorney McAllister and FBI Special Agent Timothy Langan announced a $100,000 reward in the case.
“I have stood under the trees on the bank of Middle Creek where Alonzo’s body was found,” McAllister said. “It is a quiet place of profound sadness to one who knows its history, but no answers are there. I am convinced, however, that there are people who know the answers, people who have been keeping terrible secrets all these years and bearing a horrible burden.”
The reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the individual or individuals that may be responsible for Alonzo’s death. Anyone with information should call the FBI at 816-512-8200 or 816-474-TIPS or submit a tip online at fbi.tips.gov
“There are many unanswered questions that surround Alonzo’s death,” Langan said. “Someone knows something, and we are hopeful that with the passage of time and this significant reward this renewed effort will produce results and provide closure for the Brooks family.”