In 2004, Alonzo Brooks went missing after attending a party with friends. More than 16 years later, his death was ruled a homicide after federal authorities exhumed his body to investigate his death as a possible hate crime.

Brooks’ body was exhumed last July from a Topeka cemetery and transported to Dover Air Force Base for an examination by by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

“We knew that Alonzo Brooks died under very suspicious circumstances,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard in a news release. “This new examination by a team of the world’s best forensic pathologists and experts establishes it was no accident. Alonzo Brooks was killed. We are doing everything we can, and will spare no resources, to bring those responsible to justice.”

Brooks was 23 years old when he attended a party near La Cygne, Kansas, in May 2004. He was one of only three black men at a party of over 100 guests.

He rode to the party with friends, but they left before him, leaving him without a ride. Brooks did not return home the next day and after a being missing for a month, his family found his body in a creek near the party venue.

The official autopsy report in 2004 did not determine a cause of death. But in 2019, his case was reopened by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who had information about his death.

“We are investigating whether Alonzo was murdered,” then-US Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release at the time. “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.”

A new autopsy focused on injuries to Brooks’ body that are inconsistent with normal decomposition patterns.

“The FBI’s commitment to justice remains at the forefront of each and every investigation,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Langan. “Our reach is broad, and the strength of our investigative tools are exceptional. We remain dedicated to uncovering the truth surrounding the murder of Alonzo Brooks and ensuring those responsible are held accountable for their actions.”

The FBI said they are investigating racial motivators for Brooks’ death. Brooks’ mother, Maria Ramirez, said she believed her son’s death was related to race.

“I’m Mexican and his father is Black,” Ramirez told NBC Dateline in June. “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.”

Netflix aired an episode about Brooks’ case on the documentary series Unsolved Mysteries. Since then, brooks family said tips have been coming in about his 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,” Unsolved Mysteries’ co-creator Terry Dunn Meurer told Entertainment Weekly last year. “These are important cases, and we really hope that the exposure brings renewed interest and encourages viewers to come forward.”

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