Content warning: this article includes references to violence, racism, a hate crime, and murder. One of the saddest episodes of Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries is that of Alonzo Brooks, who was killed in what his family believes was a hate crime after his friends accidentally left him at a party an hour away from where he lived. Now, 16 years later, the FBI has taken a renowned interest in the case—apparently because of the Unsolved episode—and, as of mid-June, is offering a $100,000 reward for info that would lead to an arrest.
Why was nobody arrested in the death of Alonzo Brooks?
Interviews were conducted at the time from people who attended the party—which was in rural La Cygne in Kansas, a predominantly white area—and yet no productive information apparently resulted; Alonzo was one of three Black people at the party, at which "brawls" may have broken out.
Following fruitless police searches, Alonzo's family were given permission to search the area a month after the disappearance and found his body in an hour. The coroner ruled Brooks' death undetermined at the time, and episode interviews indicate that part of the problem was that the body was in an advanced state of decomposition.
Maria Ramirez, Brooks' mother recently reiterated that she believes this was a hate crime. “I’m Mexican and his father is Black,” she said. “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.”
Why does the FBI have renewed interest in the case now?
According to an NBC News article, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister was made aware of the case because of Unsolved Mysteries. "It defies reason to believe that Alonzo's death was a suicide or that he somehow accidentally tumbled into a relatively shallow creek, in Linn County, leaving behind his boots and hat, all with no witnesses whatsoever," he said.
“It is past time for the truth to come out. The code of silence must be broken. Alonzo’s family deserves to know the truth, and it is time for justice to be served.”
“It’s been 16 years, but we hope that with this passage of time, someone who has information will come forward,” FBI Agent Leena Ramana said. “Some of these kids, who are adults now, may have been scared to come forward before, or may not have known what they saw was important. But any piece of information is significant and could be the missing puzzle piece we need to solve this case.”
The Department of Justice and the FBI are working together and say they've received several tips and are pursuing several leads. Unsolved Mysteries producers say they've also received a few leads that they believe are credible, and they've passed them on to the authorities.
Alonzo would have been 40 years old in May. Anyone with information on the case can call 816-512-8200 or 816-474-TIPS or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.