Content warning: this article includes references to violence, racism, a hate crime, and murder. Sixteen years after the death of Alonzo Brooks at age 23, now listed as a hate crime by the FBI, local news station KSNT is reporting that Brooks' body was dug up by crews (opens in new tab) at his gravesite in Topeka, KS. In case you're unfamiliar, an episode of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix (opens in new tab) covered Brooks' story. In 2004, Brooks was accidentally left behind at a party in rural La Cygne, Kansas, and never made it home—racial slurs and arguments were apparently present at the party, and Brooks was only one of three Black people there. Official searches produced no clues, leads, or a body, but his family came across Brooks' body quickly after conducting an informal search one month after he disappeared. No interviews from people at the party ever led to an arrest or even suspects. Here's what we know about the case at this point.
Why are investigators digging up Brooks' grave?
The circumstances surrounding Brooks' exact cause of death were never firmly established—the coroner, who was interviewed for the episode, said that Brooks' body was in a state of advanced decomposition too far to establish much information that was useful to the case. He ruled Brooks' death undetermined. Since the FBI is now taking an interest in the case, chances are that they're wondering if any new information from a new autopsy that was missed at the time will provide some more clues as to Brooks' case.
Unsolved Mysteries tweeted the news:
Update: The body of Alonzo Brooks was exhumed this morning. His case was recently reopened by the @FBI who are offering a $100K reward for tips leading to an arrest. If you know something please come forward. #unsolvedmysteries #Justiceforalonzobrooks https://t.co/5l38xxFr5rJuly 21, 2020
Why is the FBI getting involved in the case now?
In early July, news broke that the FBI was now looking into the case (opens in new tab) and had deemed it a hate crime—and, they learned about what happened through the Unsolved Mysteries episode. They are offering $100,000 for information that might lead to an arrest.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister. Added FBI Agent Leena Ramana: “It’s been 16 years, but we hope that with this passage of time, someone who has information will come forward...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."
Anyone with information on the case can call 816-512-8200 or 816-474-TIPS or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.
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Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
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