Real Name: Alonzo Tyree Brooks
Nicknames: Lonzo, Zo
Location: La Cygne, Kansas
Date: April 3, 2004
Case[edit | edit source]
Details: Twenty-three-year-old Alonzo Brooks was last seen at a house party on the night of April 3, 2004 outside of La Cygne, Kansas. His body was found in a nearby creek on May 1. The cause of death could not be determined from an autopsy. Speculation of how Alonzo died varies from a hate crime to him dying accidentally and it being covered up.
Alonzo was the youngest of five children. He had an older brother and three older sisters. He and his siblings were raised in Kansas by their mother Maria Ramirez. She recalled that as he was growing up, he would get upset when his older siblings would go somewhere and he could not go because he was the youngest. His sister-in-law Cindy Brooks recalled that he and Maria had a tight and strong relationship. One of the many activities he did as a child was karate.
Alonzo's sister Demetria Leslie recalled that he was shy but also kind, sweet, and playful; he also got along with everyone. His uncle Edward Ramirez recalled that he was polite to everyone. His sister Felicia Brooks remembered that he was a neat freak and always liked to be clean. He always had to have his shorts and pants creased up. His favorite color was red, so he was almost always wearing clothes that were red or black. He also always wore boots and a beanie. His friend Rodney English remembered that he always wore the beanie right above his eyelids so you could barely see his eyes.
Alonzo grew up in Topeka, Kansas. He and Rodney lived on the same street and often road their bikes and played games together. Another favorite activity of his while growing up was football. His brother Billy Brooks left Topeka when he was eighteen. At that time, Alonzo and Maria moved to suburban Gardner, Kansas. Billy tried to toughen up his brother, but Maria always scolded him for making him "grow up too fast". However, Billy just wanted to make sure that he would not be taken advantage of by others.
On April 3, 2004, Alonzo told Maria that he was going to a party that night. He said that a friend of his was leaving to go into the military and that they were going to celebrate and wish him well. His friend Justin Sprague was the one that came to pick him up that day. Justin did not recall if the party was planned out weeks in advance. He said that their friend group's activities were usually spur-of-the-moment. Another friend, Daniel Fune, recalled that someone had called him that day and asked him to come to the party, saying that a bunch of their friends were going. A third friend, Tyler Broughard, recalled calling his friends and trying to figure out who was going to the party that night.
Daniel did not remember Alonzo going to many of the same parties that he and his friends normally went to. In fact, Alonzo was a few years older than him. Alonzo's brother Trey was good friends with Daniel's brother. They used to play football, basketball, and other sports together. Tyler first met him when they played football together on Sundays. He recalled that Alonzo was an intense person. Justin said that he was a "beast" when playing football but was also a great person to chat with and easy to get along with.
Before they left Alonzo's house, Justin remembered that Alonzo put on two pairs of socks and rolled one pair down to tie his boot tighter. One week prior, he hurt his ankle while playing basketball. As a result, he was limping that night. Along with his boots, he was wearing blue jeans, a t-shirt, a sweater, and a skull hat. He and Maria said goodbye and he then left with Justin. Some of their other friends left in separate vehicles.
The party took place in La Cygne, forty-seven miles south of Gardner. The drive there took about an hour. The town was very small, with little more than a gas station and a few stores. When Justin and Alonzo arrived at the party, they had to walk up a long driveway to get to the house. There were a few people standing out and around the house. Alonzo immediately yelled out "Who wants a beer?" Justin noticed that most of the people at the party were between sixteen and twenty-one. There were many activities going on; some were playing games like flip cup while others were dancing.
Alonzo tried to get involved with some of the card games and other drinking games. Overall, it appeared that he was having a good time. When Daniel arrived, he noticed that there were about forty or fifty people there. About six or eight of them were from Gardner. However, he did not know a lot of the people there. Tyler noticed that many of the people there were more "country-type" while they were more suburban. He recalled that Alonzo, who was normally more quiet, was outgoing and in a great mood that night.
At some point during the night, Daniel and Alonzo took some shots together. Daniel walked away for a second, but when he turned around, he witnessed Alonzo getting into an argument with another party-goer. Fearing that the confrontation would become physical, Daniel intervened and pulled Alonzo to the side. Justin noticed that some people at the party had a problem with Alonzo's skin color. It appeared that he was the only black person there that night. However, this did not bother him.
After being at the party for about an hour and a half, Daniel got a call about another party. Another friend, Nicky, decided that he wanted to leave and go to that party. Since he was Daniel's ride, Daniel left as well. Before leaving, he said goodbye to Alonzo and shook his hand. Tyler was there for about an hour before he left as well at around 11PM. He shook Alonzo's hand, gave him a hug, and said goodbye to him. He figured that Justin would give Alonzo a ride home.
By that point, Justin had smoked his last cigarette and went to get one from Alonzo. However, he was out as well. Justin left to get more cigarettes, agreeing to get him a pack as well. When he left, he made a wrong turn and ended up getting lost on some gravel roads. He ended up being thirty minutes north of the party. He called another friend that was at the party and told him to tell Alonzo that he was lost. They eventually agreed that their friend Adam would give Alonzo a ride home.
The next morning, Maria received a phone call from a friend asking if Alonzo was home. She believed that he was home. However, when she went to his bedroom, she discovered that his bed had not been slept in. She started looking throughout the house but could not find him. She told the caller that he was not home, and the caller suggested that he may have spent the night at a friend's house. However, Maria did not believe this because she knew that he would always come home no matter what. She began calling several of his friends to figure out where he was.
Daniel and Tyler received calls asking about Alonzo. They knew something was wrong. Justin also received a call about him and said that he had last seen him at the party and believed that Adam was going to give him a ride home. However, Justin learned that Adam believed that Alonzo had already left, so he left without him. His close friend from Topeka, Rodney, received a call from Maria asking about Alonzo. When he learned that Alonzo was not with his friends from the party, he knew that something was not right.
Rodney drove to Gardner and met up with Alonzo's friends there. Justin directed him to the party house in La Cygne. After they arrived there, they started looking around for any trace of Alonzo. Rodney walked out of the driveway and across the road. He then discovered his hat and boot. His other boot was later found on a nearby creek bank. It did not appear that the items had been hidden. He believed that someone was driving down the driveway and threw the hat and boot out when they got to the road. They then threw the other boot out as they drove down the road. After searching for a few minutes, a man on a four-wheeler arrived and told Alonzo's friends to leave. At that point, they were certain that something was wrong.
La Cygne was perceived to be an "all-white" town. Alonzo's friends believed that there was racism in the town. Rodney asked Justin why he left the party without taking Alonzo with him. He claimed that Alonzo was having a good time whenever he left. He did not believe that there was any animosity going on. However, Rodney still did not understand why he would leave him in a place that was an hour from his home.
Maria went to the police station to report Alonzo missing. However, they told her that she had to wait forty-eight hours to declare him missing. She was adamant that something was wrong. She believed that something happened to him at the party. When Demetria learned that he was missing, she was also certain that something was wrong. She knew that he was not the type of person that stayed somewhere without telling his family. Felicia was also certain that something bad had happened to him. Billy received a frantic call from Maria later that night about him being missing.
Early the next morning, Billy and his wife Cindy drove to La Cygne. They got in touch with the owner of the house where the party was held. They discovered that the house was empty; it was apparently a rental house. When they arrived at the house, they noticed that there were fields on the right side and a small creek on the left. They then drove around the highways to see if they could spot anything. They also drove through town and noticed that people were looking at them, apparently wondering why they were there.
After that, Billy and Cindy went to the police station and had a meeting with the sheriff there. They tried to show them how serious it was that Alonzo had not turned up. However, the sheriff did not seem concerned and said he was probably just "out walking around". Cindy responded by asking how many people are out "walking around" with no shoes on. Billy and Cindy left soon after, leaving it up to the police to do their investigation and find out what happened.
Linn County Sheriff Paul Filla was a deputy at the time of Alonzo's disappearance. On April 4, he went to the home where the party was held. Alonzo was not in the house. He and other investigators walked along the creek bed that night. However, there was no indication that he was outside anywhere. He reported back "negative contact" with Alonzo or anybody else around there. On April 7, the case was turned over to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). He and the sheriff's office became an assisting agency.
Within a few days of Alonzo's disappearance, there was an extensive search of the area. The KBI and their evidence recovery team came down and walked the creek bed, looking for evidence. The Kansas Highway Patrol also supplied a helicopter which was used to search the area as well. On April 10, the FBI joined the investigation, looking into the possibility that Alonzo was the victim of a hate crime. On April 12, the Lee's Summit Underwater Rescue and Dive Team was brought in to search the creek. At the time, the creek water was three feet deep in the deepest part. They searched in and around the creek extensively but found no trace of him. They agreed to come back if necessary, but were not invited back again.
Alonzo's family became upset by the lack of answers in his disappearance. Maria was especially upset by his friends who left him at the party. According to Filla, there were hundreds of interviews conducted both by the KBI and the FBI. Polygraph examinations were done as well. Justin recalled that they met with investigators almost every day. The investigators told him that they suspected that Alonzo had gotten drunk, taken his shoes off, and tried to walk home. However, he and his friends did not believe that. They told investigators that it was not in his character and he would not have been able to do so because of his ankle.
As the days passed, Billy was certain that something bad had happened to Alonzo. Maria and other family members wanted to go to the farmhouse and search the surrounding area. The sheriffs told them no, because they were already looking for him. Billy called the Linn County Sheriff's Department daily for three weeks straight. They eventually told him to stop contacting them because they were "working on things". Finally, one month later on May 1, his family was allowed to go to La Cygne to search the area for him.
Many of Alonzo's family and friends went there to help in the search. They split up in many directions. His uncle Edward walked along the creek bank on the east side of the house. Other search volunteers decided to search near a white shed. As they were walking along and digging through the brush, they spotted Alonzo's body next to the creek. Billy immediately went to the area, wanting to get to him, but his uncle held him back, so that he would not disrupt any possible evidence.
After Alonzo's body was found, the KBI, FBI, and other investigators quickly descended on the scene. His body was removed to be taken for an autopsy. Dr. Eric Mitchell was the forensic pathologist who examined his body. He noted that the body was decomposed, clothed, and had personal items, including a ring. He determined through an examination of the body and clothing that penetrating injuries did not cause his death. There was no evidence of any acute bone fracture, sharp force injury, or gunshot.
Dr. Mitchell noted that Alonzo could have drowned; however, there were no specific anatomic signs to make a determination of drowning. He noted that he also could have been strangled. Unfortunately, the soft tissues of the neck were also gone, having been damaged by animals and insects. As a result, he could not determine if he had been strangled or not. There were no broken bones or penetration of bone. He noted that he could have been beaten; however, there was nothing identifiable on the body to suggest that. Overall, he could not determine the cause of death based on the evidence.
Alonzo's cause and manner of death were both ruled undetermined. Billy does not believe that his brother's death was an accident. He believes that whatever happened was intentional. He points to the fact that Alonzo's boots and hat were found along the highway, far from where his body was found. Daniel also believes that foul play was involved. Cindy has reported seeing several theories and opinions about Alonzo's death on the Internet, specifically on blogs and websites.
Some of the theories included: Alonzo's friends at the party set him up to be killed by drug dealers; he was picked up by someone on the highway who killed him; he was chased down the driveway and attacked by party-goers; he was kept in the trunk of a car and tortured before being killed. His friends believe that some of the rumors may actually be true. Justin reported hearing from some officers that there were fights at the party later that night. Cindy reported hearing a rumor that Alonzo flirted with a white girl at the party and some of the other guys there did not like it. Billy believes that someone targeted him that night because of his color. Tyler believes that if someone called Alonzo the N-word that night, he would have gotten mad and possibly fought the person. He believes that Alonzo was beaten up by several guys from the party.
The FBI continued to investigate whether Alonzo was the victim of a hate crime. Sheriff's investigators were certain that his body was not in the creek when they initially searched it. Billy cannot understand how a dive team, the KBI, and cadaver dogs searched the creek and surrounding areas and did not find him. Meanwhile, his family searched and found him within thirty minutes. Dive team members noted that the creek level was low when they searched; they are certain that he would have been found if he was there.
Dr. Mitchell believes that the searchers could have simply missed Alonzo's body, as this has happened in other cases before. He suggests that the body could have floated down the creek when it had higher water levels after a rainstorm. He believes that the body became trapped in a clog of branches and other debris. However, Billy recalls that when his body was found, it did not look like it was bloated. He also felt that his skin complexion looked normal. Maria does not believe his body was in the water for a month because the personal items found with the body were not water damaged.
Billy, along with other family members, believes that Alonzo's body was placed in the creek after the last search. He recalled that he told Sheriff Stites that the family was going to do a search. He believes that Stites may have told someone this, and that the information went around town through word-of-mouth. Then, the person who had the body decided to place it in the creek so that it would be found.
Billy believes that Alonzo's body was placed in a meat locker or something similar. He believes that this was the reason why his body was not very decomposed. Several people online reported similar rumors about the body being placed in a freezer. According to Dr. Mitchell, there is nothing that allows a medical examiner to know whether a body has been frozen. He notes that if the body is found while thawing, there are some microscopic changes that might suggest that it was previously frozen. However, if the body is decomposed, then these signs disappear. According to him, the evidence found on the body was consistent with him being in the creek for thirty days.
Dr. Mitchell also notes that perpetrators usually try to dump a body where it is convenient for them. He believes that bringing a body down into the creek would be very inconvenient to them because they would have to go through brush and a large field. However, he notes that if someone set their mind to it, they can take a body and move it and dump it. Maria is certain that Alonzo's body was hidden before he was found.
In March 2019, the KBI released a statement regarding Alonzo's case: The KBI was one of the several law enforcement agencies who investigated the April 4th death of Alonzo Brooks...No evidence or information gained throughout the lengthy investigation indicated that Alonzo Brooks was the victim of a crime. For this reason, the investigation into his death was closed.
Alonzo's family and friends are haunted by his death. They are upset by the fact that his case has been closed and want it to be re-opened. They believe that someone at the party that night knows what happened. They hope that someone will come forward with information that will lead to the case being solved.
Suspects: None identified, although the party-goers are considered possible suspects. Several people at the party "lawyered up" and did not take lie-detector tests. According to some witnesses at the party, Alonzo was threatened by party-goers and called racial slurs. One witness reported that someone said that he "won't get out of here alive". There were four people living at the house at the time; they have since been evicted.
Extra Notes: This case was first released on July 1, 2020 as a part of the first volume of the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Unsolved. In June of 2020, the U.S. Attorney and the FBI announced that a $100,000 reward was being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Alonzo's case. Several credible tips came in as a result of the broadcast. The tips have been passed to the FBI, who has since re-opened the case. In July of 2020, Alonzo's body was exhumed by the FBI as a part of their ongoing investigation.
- Alonzo Brooks on Unsolved.com
- Alonzo Brooks on Wikipedia
- Alonzo Brooks on the FBI website
- Justice for Alonzo Brooks Facebook Page
- Family finds missing body
- Family finds body of missing man in creek
- U.S. Attorney, FBI Announce $100,000 Reward in Cold Case
- Family continues to seek answers as FBI, US Attorney announce $100,000 reward in murder of Alonzo Brooks, who was found dead in rural Kansas after attending a party in 2004
- 'It's a true mystery'
- Netflix’s ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ brings tips in 2004 cold case death of Alonzo Brooks in Kansas
- Alonzo Brooks' Mother Believes 'Unsolved Mysteries' Momentum Will Crack Case
- FBI exhumes body of Alonzo Brooks, whose case was featured in Netflix's 'Unsolved Mysteries'
- Federal Authorities Exhume Body of Alonzo Brooks, Whose 2004 Death May Have Been Racially Motivated
- Alonzo Brooks Obituary