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A new look into the case of 23-year-old Alonzo Brooks, who died suspiciously after attending a party in rural Kansas, has revealed that his death was in fact a homicide.

On the night of April 3, 2004, Brooks headed off to a farmhouse on the rural outskirts of La Cygne, Kansas for a party. When he didn’t return home the next day, which was out of character of him, his family grew concerned. It didn’t take long for them to learn that his friends had left the party before him, leaving him stranded an hour’s drive from his home. Even more concerning, no one had seen or heard from him since that night.

Brooks’ family reported him missing that same day. A police search turned up nothing. It wasn’t until family and friends took matters into their own hands that key evidence was found. A few days after reporting Brooks missing, his best friend found his boots and hat on the side of the road near the farmhouse.

“Our thoughts were, ‘Something happened at this party,’ “ Brooks’ sister Esperanza Roberts said.

They continued to search for answers in the small town of La Cygne, although they were met with unwelcoming arms.

“They made us leave the town, they kept telling us to get out,” Brooks’ sister Demetria Leslie previously told PEOPLE. “When we tried to go around and put flyers up and ask the people in town, ‘Have you seen my brother,’ some of them went and talked to us, some of them turned their nose up. And as soon as we would tape up the signs around that town, they went and ripped them right back down.”

On May 1st, Brooks’ family received permission to search the farmhouse property. Within the first hour, they found Brooks’ body in a creek bed.

An overhead view of the farmhouse where the April 3 party was held and the creek where Brooks’ body was discovered by family.

Authorities claimed that Brooks’ cause of death could not be determined, and the case went cold.

There were about 100 people at the party, all of them being white except for Brooks and two others. From the start, rumors swirled that Brooks had been met with foul play.

Brooks’ mother, Maria Ramirez, believes her son was targeted for his race.
Now, almost 17 years later, investigators are finally taking a look into the case as a “potential racially motivated crime.” In 2019, the Department of Justice and FBI reopened the case. In the summer of 2020, the FBI announced that they were going to exhume Brooks’ body and offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information that could lead to a conviction. Not long after, the case was featured in an episode of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries reboot.
Alonzo Brooks’ body was exhumed 16 years after his death but still provided investigators with enough evidence to reclassify his death as a homicide.
On Monday, federal authorities announced that upon reexamination of Brooks’ body, the case is being ruled as a homicide. This came after an autopsy by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner found injuries that were inconsistent with normal decomposition patterns.

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