A $100,000 reward is being offered in 16-year-old cold case death of a Kansas man which authorities believe may have been racially motivated. The FBI is offering the $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the death of Alonzo Brooks. Brooks’ body was found in a creek in La Cygne on May 1st, 2004.
U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister and FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Langan announced the reward during a press conference Thursday afternoon. McAllister and the FBI reopened the investigation over a year ago. They have reviewed evidence going back 16 years, re-interviewed many witnesses who attended a party at a farmhouse where Brooks was last seen alive, interviewed new witnesses and collected all available physical and forensic evidence.
“We are investigating whether Alonzo was murdered,” McAllister said. “His death certainly was suspicious, and someone, likely multiple people, know(s) what happened that night in April 2004. 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.”
“There are many unanswered questions that surround Alonzo’s death,” Langan said. “Someone knows something and we are hopeful that with the passage of time and this significant reward this renewed effort will produce results and provide closure for the Brooks family.”
The FBI is investigating Brooks’ death as a potential racially-motivated crime. Brooks, who was 23 years old at the time he died, was one of only three African-American men at the party he attended with approximately 100 people at a farmhouse on the outskirts of La Cygne. Brooks, who lived in Gardner, Kan., rode to the party with friends, but they left before him, and Brooks eventually had no ride home.
When Brooks failed to come home the next day, his family and friends contacted the Linn County Sheriff’s Department.
From the beginning, there were rumors that Brooks had been the victim of foul play. 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.
After the party, two troubling facts were indisputable: Alonzo could not be found; and no one who attended the party would admit to knowing what happened to him.
According to reports at the time, the Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies searched areas around the farmhouse, including parts of nearby Middle Creek, but did not find Alonzo.
After Alonzo had been missing for almost a month, a group of his family and friends organized a search. They began on the road near the farmhouse and walked the two branches of Middle Creek. In just under an hour, they found Alonzo’s body, partially on top of a pile of brush and branches in the creek.
Because Alonzo died in 2004 and because of the lapse of time between his disappearance and discovery of his body, forensic analysis of the physical evidence at the time was limited. The official autopsy performed in 2004 did not determine a cause of death.
“I have stood under the trees on the bank of Middle Creek where Alonzo’s body was found,” McAllister said. “It is a quiet place of profound sadness to one who knows its history, but no answers are there. I am convinced, however, that there are people who know the answers, people who have been keeping terrible secrets all these years and bearing a horrible burden. We are asking one or more of them to come forward now and to lay down that burden at last, so that we can ease a family’s suffering, and serve the cause of justice.”
This reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the individual or individuals that may be responsible for Alonzo’s death. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the FBI at 816-512-8200 or 816-474-TIPS or submit a tip online at fbi.tips.gov