LINN COUNTY, KS (KCTV) - What really happened to Alonzo Brooks 16 years ago? His family hopes the revival of "Unsolved Mysteries" on Netflix, plus a $100,000 reward, will answer that question.
Brooks was a 23-year-old from Gardner, Kansas. On April 3, 2004, he went to a party at a farm house near La Cygne, Kansas. He was one of only a few Black people at a party with about 100 kids in attendance. That party was the last time he was seen alive.
The Linn County Sheriff’s Department’s search turned up nothing. But about a month after he was reported missing, Brooks’ family organized its own search at the farm where the party happened. After only about an hour and a half, they found Brooks’ body lying in the brush in a creek.
“He was there to have fun,” Angela Cox, Brooks’ aunt, said. “They didn’t like him for whatever reason.”
Investigators suspected foul play and initially ruled Brooks’ death “suspicious." But leads were few, and an autopsy did not determine the cause of death.
What caused his death? Was he murdered? Was there a fight? Was it a hate crime? His family is still no closer to finding out why Alonzo is dead 16 years later. They wait. And wonder.
Recent events are shining new light on the case. A local filmmaker started talking with the family a few years ago.
Then producers launching a new “Unsolved Mysteries” series on Netflix contacted the FBI and started asking some tough questions. That led to a renewed investigation.
Earlier this month, the FBI had a news conference announcing a $100,000 reward for information in the case.
“From the beginning there were rumors, lots of rumors,” US Attorney Stephen McCallister, who is leading the latest investigation, said. “You need to come forward. You’ve grown up. Now it’s time.”
But the national spotlight, and talk of a hate crime, have people now living in La Cygne on edge. They feel targeted. They say they can’t defend themselves against what they don’t know and the kids at the party were from all over the area — not just La Cygne.
The mayor says the residents of the town also want answers.
“I don’t know if anyone knows something but if they do it would sure be nice to hear from them,” Mayor Deborah Wilson said. “If there was a crime, quite frankly, someone should pay for that.”
Brooks’ family doesn’t think his death is a mystery.
“Boy, they can sure keep a secret! That’s for sure,” Cox said.
The family is hopeful that the new series and the reward will yield some answers — and closure.
“I want to know why. Why my son? Why hurt my son?” Brooks' mother Maria Ramirez asked.
But the town feels federal investigators are simply participating in a nationwide drama. The "Unsolved Mystery" series begins on Netflix on July 1.
A $100,000 reward is now being offered for information in connection to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the death of Alonzo Brooks.