'Unsolved Mysteries': Was 'mixed-race boy' Alonzo Brooks murdered because he flirted with the wrong girl?
The 23-year-old Mexican-black boy's unsolved death case features in an episode of Netflix's 'Unsolved Mysteries,' which premieres on July 1
LA CYGNE, KANSAS: La Cygne, Kansas, is as unassuming a city as one will come across in the United States. Nestled along the Marais des Cygnes River in the northeast part of Linn County, in East Central Kansas, it was founded in 1869 and boasted a population of a little over 1,000 at the turn of the century. Then, tragedy struck! And, Netflix's 'Unsolved Mystery' explores this turning point through the story of a mysterious murder case.
Renewed attention can also be attributed to George Floyd, whose Memorial Day death at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers served as a flashpoint for a wider acknowledgment of racial injustice and systemic oppression of minorities in the country.
On May 1, 2004, a search party looking for 23-year-old Alonzo Brooks, who had mysteriously vanished from a party a month earlier, found his body tangled in a brush pile in the creekbed of Middle Creek. It's a mystery that remains unsolved to this day, and which the FBI and the Department of Justice are now hoping to crack with the lure of a $100,000 reward.
Brooks was the youngest of five children and was in his early 20s when he moved from Topeka, Kansas, where he had been working with his dad Billy Brooks Sr., to his mother's home in Gardner, Kansas. Friends and family described him as a good-natured prankster who loved football, animals and playing with his nieces and nephews, and someone who preferred staying at home and spending time with family rather than going out and partying.
However, on April 3, 2004, Brooks decided to go out with some friends to a party for someone who was leaving to join the Navy in a rural area just outside of La Cygne. It was the last time he was seen alive.
When Brooks did not return home that night, or even the next day, his family realized something was wrong and alerted the Linn County Sheriff's Office. A search was launched for the 23-year-old by multiple agencies, and a short time later, his boots and hat were found in the weeds across the street from the farmhouse where the party was held.
His body remained missing for a further month, by which point it had suffered significant decomposition. An autopsy could not determine the cause of death and the case went cold. That is, until now. Brooks' case is back in the spotlight, partly thanks to Netflix's reboot of 'Unsolved Mysteries' which will feature an episode about his disappearance and death, and is set to premiere on the streaming platform on July 1.
His mother, Maria, believes her son was targeted for his race. "I’m Mexican and his father is Black," she told NBC's Dateline. "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." There could be some credibility to that theory since there were reports that the 23-year-old had been targeted for violence because he had flirted with the wrong girl and had been challenged to a fight, which ultimately proved fatal. Such a scenario would not be beyond the realms of possibility in a testosterone-fueled environment where, according to the FBI, there were approximately 100 people aged between 16 and 25, and Alonzo was one of just three African-American men in attendance.
On June 11, 2020, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister and FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Langan officially announced that the FBI was investigating whether Alonzo was the victim of racially-motivated murder. McAllister confirmed they had received numerous reports racist comments were made at the party that night and of multiple fights breaking out. "His death certainly was suspicious, and someone -- likely multiple people -- know(s) what happened that night in April 2004," McAllister added. "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."
A $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for his death has already resulted in several tips, shared 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," she 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."
Maria similarly pleaded for anyone with information about her son's death to speak up. "We missed out on his whole life," she told Dateline. "Someone took that away from us. And someone -- or several people -- know what happened to him. We just want to know. He is my baby and I can’t protect him anymore, but I can do this. I can find out what happened. I can get justice for him."
Brooks' story will be the subject of an episode of Netflix's newly-rebooted 'Unsolved Mysteries,' which will premiere on July 1.