Sixteen-year old hate crime gets new life after “Unsolved Mysteries” feature
Alonzo Brooks disappeared after attending a mostly-white party in La Cygne, Kansas.
Brooks was a 24-year-old Black man who went missing in 2004 in rural Kansas, and his death was labeled a “hate crime” by the FBI. It is unclear what tips led to the decision to reexamine Brook’s body for new clues, but his family is hopeful that it will lead to belated justice.
The creator of Unsolved Mysteries, Terry Dunn Meurer, says the renewed interest in Brooks’ case proves how powerful the series is in pop culture.
“The goal of the show is to always solve a mystery and we have a lot of people out there that are really trying to do that,” she told Kansas NBC affiliate KSNT.
She said the case caught their attention because the circumstances surrounding Brooks’ disappearance were so mysterious and that his body wasn’t found until a month later.
“No Ride Home,” the episode of Unsolved Mysteries about Brooks’ murder, dives into the shady details of the case.
In April 2004, he attended a party in La Cygne, Kansas, and was one of the few people of color present. Witnesses described the group of people as “mostly white, redneck” types.
Due to a miscommunication about getting a ride home, Brooks was left stranded and never made it home. His boots and hat were found the next day, across the road from where the party took place. His body wasn’t found for another month, decomposing in a stream nearby.
His family and friends were very confident that he didn’t take his own life or drown on accident, and believed it was a murder. Additionally, the area was searched by local officials for weeks and his body wasn’t found until the family organized their own search party.
His belongings were found in pristine condition and his body was undamaged by the water.
According to the Netflix episode, rumors spread at the time that Brooks’ body was preserved in a freezer following his death while police were still searching the area.
Meurer told KSNT that she was very excited when she heard the FBI was reopening the investigation and feels the choice to reexamine his body is a step in a positive direction.
“We’re hopeful that means there’s something that the investigation hopes to find through doing that. Exhuming a body is not something you just do casually,” she said.
When the docuseries debuted, Brooks’ family held a watch party in Topeka, Kansas. His mother, Maria Ramirez told KSNT she felt optimistic about finding justice for her son.
“I hope that it will let the people out there know that we want answers and we need answers now,” Ramirez said.
In a news release last month, the FBI said foul play was rumoured from the beginning.
“Some said Brooks may have flirted with a girl, some said drunken white men wanted to fight an African-American male, and some said racist whites simply resented Brooks’ presence,” the agency said.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Unsolved Mysteries announced that the FBI is offering a reward of $100K for tips leading to an arrest.
“There were a lot of kids at the party that night. They were all 16, some of them were underage-drinking, 16, 17, 18 years old. And those kids are now in their early 30’s. There’s someone in the crowd who knows what happened to Alonzo,” Meurer told The Wrap.