KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 2004 death of a Kansas man whose body was found in a creek has now been ruled a homicide, as investigators look into whether Alonzo Brooks death was racially-motivated.
Brooks' case received new attention in 2019, then it was featured on Netflix's "Unsolved Mysteries" last year and his body was exhumed last summer.
"It was a scary moment for us all. This has never happened to us," Angela Ramirez Cox, the aunt of Alonzo Brooks said.
Brooks was last seen at an April 2004 party in La Cygne, Kansas, where he was one of three Black men in attendance.
The Linn County Sheriff’s Department and nearby agencies searched for Brooks, but to no avail.
His body was found about a month later when family and friends organized a search party.
Almost 17 years later, Brooks' family said they can't forget the sinking feeling they felt the day the 23-year-old man didn't arrive home after going to the house party.
"He never stayed the night over at anyone's house," Cox said. "He always was the type of person that wanted to go home to his own bed."
The case went cold until the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas reopened it in 2019 to determine if his death was racially motivated.
"We're not naive," Cox said. "We're not ignorant to know that there [are] racial issues out there, and a lot of us, you know, our family because it's a big family have come across it, but not to this extent, whatsoever."
Brooks’ body was exhumed last summer after his story was featured in the Netflix series “Unsolved Mysteries.”
The new autopsy, conducted by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, determined that Brooks suffered injuries “inconsistent with normal patterns of decomposition.”
“We knew that Alonzo Brooks died under very suspicious circumstances,” Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard said in a news release. “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.”
A reward of up to $100,000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in connection to Brooks’ death. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 816-512-8200 or the anonymous TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS. Tips also can be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov.