LA CYGNE, Kansas — Netflix’s reboot of the wildly popular series “Unsolved Mysteries” has brought in numerous tips for the FBI, which last month offered a $100,000 reward in the baffling death of a Black man found in a Kansas creek in 2004.
USA Today reported that producers of the rebooted crime-solving series had netted at least 20 credible tips on various cases within the first 24 hours after the show’s July 1 premiere. Three of those tips were related to the death of Alonzo Brooks.
Brooks, 23, vanished from a party the night of April 3, 2004. According to federal officials, Brooks was one of only three Black men among about 100 people at the party, which was held in a farmhouse on the outskirts of La Cygne.
He had gone to the party with friends, but his ride left without him. Brooks had no way home to Gardner, about an hour north of the party.
When he failed to return home the next day, his family contacted Linn County officials, who searched for Brooks. NBC News reported that all searchers found were Brooks’ boots and hat.
There was no further sign of Brooks until May 1.
“Almost a month later, Alonzo was still missing when his family organized a search party of approximately 50 volunteers,” according to the FBI.
Stephen McAllister, the U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas, said last month that Brooks’ family and friends began their search on the road near the farmhouse. Walking the two branches of Middle Creek, it took less than an hour for them to find his remains.
Brooks’ father and a family friend found his body lying tangled in brush and branches in the creek.
“My God, it was awful,” Billy Brooks Sr. told NBC’s Dateline. “To find my boy like that. Nothing can describe that pain.”
Because of the time that had elapsed since his disappearance, Brooks’ autopsy could not determine his cause of death.
His loved ones believe he was murdered.
“There’s no accident that could have happened to my brother,” Brooks’ brother, Billy Brooks Jr., said in a clip from Brooks’ segment on “Unsolved Mysteries.” “That was intentional. Very intentional.”
McAllister appears to agree, telling Dateline that Brooks’ death was unlikely to be self-inflicted or accidental.
“It defies reason to believe that Alonzo’s death was a suicide or that he somehow accidentally tumbled into a relatively shallow creek, in Linn County, leaving behind his boots and hat, all with no witnesses whatsoever,” the U.S. attorney told NBC.
McAllister and FBI officials announced the $100,000 reward last month. According to a news release from McAllister’s office, Brooks’ case was reopened in 2019.
“From the beginning, there were rumors that Brooks had been the victim of foul play,” a news release stated. “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.”
Since reopening the investigation, agents have reviewed 16 years’ worth of evidence, re-interviewed witnesses, looked at all available physical and forensic evidence and found new witnesses.
“We are investigating whether Alonzo was murdered,” McAllister said last month. “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.”
Brooks’ loved ones describe him as mild-mannered and good-humored, a prankster who loved his family. His mother, Maria Ramirez, said last month that she believes her son was targeted for his race.
“I’m Mexican and his father is Black,” Ramirez told 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.”
If the current success of the new “Unsolved Mysteries” is any indication, Brooks’ case could very well be solved. According to USA Today, the show ranked as the top TV series on Netflix last Thursday. Thus far, six episodes are available for streaming and another six will be available later this year.
The newspaper reported that the original show, which ran from 1988 to 2002 on NBC, CBS and Lifetime, helped resolve more than 260 cases.
See a trailer for Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries” below.
Ramirez said she hopes the renewed efforts of the FBI will give her family an idea of what happened to her son.
“I ask the same question every day for 16 years,” she said. “What happened to my son? It’s time for some answers.
“Someone knows what happened to my son. I think many people know. I just hope now they will have the courage and kindness in their heart to come forward.”
See federal officials talk about the Brooks case below, courtesy of Fox 4 in Kansas City.
FBI Agent Leena Ramana told the news program she is also hopeful that witnesses will now come forward.
“It’s been 16 years, but we hope that with this passage of time, someone who has information will come forward,” Ramana 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.”
Anyone with information on Brooks’ death is encouraged to call the FBI Kansas City field office at 816-512-8200 or the tip hotline at 816-474-TIPS, or to submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.
Cox Media Group