The death of 23-year-old Alonzo Brooks who was found dead in a creek following a house party in rural Kansas 17 years ago has been ruled a homicide after his body was exhumed as authorities investigated his case as a possible hate crime.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Monday that as part of a continuing federal investigation into Alonzo’s death, his body was exhumed and taken to Dover Air Force Base for examination. The examiner’s report concludes that his death was a homicide.
“We knew that Alonzo Brooks died under very suspicious circumstances,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard. “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.”
According to the release, the new autopsy focuses on injuries to parts of Alonzo’s body that the examiner concluded are inconsistent with normal patterns of decomposition. Details of the examination are being withheld for investigative purposes.
In 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas and the FBI reopened the investigation of Brooks’s death, which had been dormant for years. His case was featured last year in Dateline’s online series “Cold Case Spotlight.”
As part of the new investigation, the FBI also announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for Alonzo’s death.
In the initial investigation, a coroner in Linn County said he was unable to determine a cause of death and witnesses’ interviews failed to produce any arrests.
According to authorities, the new investigation is focused on determining whether Alonzo, an African-American man was the victim of a racially-motivated killing.
The 23-year-old was last seen alive in April 2004 during a party at a farmhouse on the outskirts of La Cygne. He was one of only three African-American men at the party, which 100 or more people attended.
Alonzo’s family told Dateline that he rode to the party with friends, but they left before he did, leaving him without a ride home. When Alonzo failed to come home the next day, his family and friends contacted the Linn County Sheriff’s Department.
According to reports at the time, the Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies searched areas around the farmhouse, including parts of nearby Middle Creek, but did not find Alonzo.
After Alonzo had been missing for almost a month, a group of his family and friends organized a search. They began on the road near the farmhouse and walked the two branches of Middle Creek. In just under an hour, they found Alonzo’s body, partially on top of a pile of brush and branches in the creek.
Alonzo’s father said he and a family friend were the ones who spotted him.
“My God, it was awful,” Billy Brooks Sr. told Dateline. “To find my boy like that. Nothing can describe that pain.”
Billy said during their search that day, the skies had been overcast and threatened rain. But when they found Alonzo’s body, the skies cleared and the sun came out.
“It was like my boy was telling me everything was OK now,” Billy said. “At least we had found him. It wasn’t how we wanted to find him, but at least we did.”
Alonzo’s family continues to search for answers in his case. A Facebook page “Justice for Alonzo Brooks” was created to discuss the case and help share awareness.