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New Autopsy in 2004 Death Leads to Murder Investigation

Exhumed body of Alonzo Brooks shows evidence of injury
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2021 11:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – When Unsolved Mysteries was revived last year, show producers said they hoped to solve the April 2004 death of a 23-year-old Black and Hispanic man found in a creek following a party in Kansas. And though Alonzo Brooks' death is not yet solved, authorities are now confident in calling it murder. As Duston Slinkard, acting Attorney General for the District of Kansas, says in a statement, "Alonzo Brooks was killed." More:

  • The FBI re-opened its investigation into Brooks' death in 2019. Last summer, following inquiries from show producers, it went a step further, offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the death, per Rolling Stone.
  • The case was featured in episode four of Unsolved Mysteries' revived season, which aired at the start of July, per the New York Times. Afterward, Brooks' body was exhumed and reviewed by a federal forensic examiner in Delaware, per the AP. The autopsy, which identified signs of injury inconsistent with normal decomposition, determined he was a victim of homicide, the FBI said Monday.

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  • "We knew that Alonzo Brooks died under very suspicious circumstances,” Slinkard says in the statement, per CNN. But "this new examination by a team of the world’s best forensic pathologists and experts establishes it was no accident." He adds, "We are doing everything we can, and will spare no resources, to bring those responsible to justice."
  • Brooks, 23, vanished from a party at a farmhouse on the outskirts of La Cygne, Kansas, on April 3, 2004, according to the FBI. His friends, who drove him to the event, had left before him. He was reported missing the next day.
  • His boots and hat were found across the street from the farmhouse. But police failed to find Brooks himself. It was a month later before Brooks' father and a friend discovered his body in a creek near the house, per NBC News. An initial autopsy couldn't determine the cause of death.
  • A June 2020 press release from US Attorney's Office in Kansas stated race may have been a factor. It noted Brooks was one of three Black men at the party of 100. "Some said Brooks may have flirted with a girl, some said drunken white men wanted to fight an African-American male, and some said racist whites simply resented Brooks' presence," according to the release.
  • "He was targeted because of the color of his skin," Brooks' mother, Maria Ramirez, told NBC News in June, describing herself as Mexican and Brooks' father as Black. "Someone knows what happened," she added. "I just hope now they will have the courage and kindness in their heart to come forward."
  • Around the same time, Unsolved Mysteries co-creator Terry Dunn Meurer took some credit for boosting the case. "I think the fact we were producing this episode shined a light on the case and helped them want to take a look at this case again," he told Entertainment Weekly. "We really hope that the exposure brings renewed interest and encourages viewers to come forward."
(Read more homicide stories.)

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