It’s an unpleasant anniversary for Angela Cox. On May 1, it had been 11 years since the body of her nephew, Alonzo Brooks, was found lying in a creek in
rural Linn County.
The 23-year-old Gardner man attended a party in La Cygne, Kan., on April 3, 2004 and never returned home.
Alonzo was among a large gathering of people — many, Gardner young adults — attending the rural party. Little is known about what occurred that night, but Alonzo was last seen in the early morning hours of April 4, 2004.
Eleven years later, Alonzo’s family is still seeking answers.
Linn County authorities searched for Alonzo for a month before his body was discovered. But authorities weren’t responsible for its recovery.
Family organized a search party of about 50 volunteers on May 1, 2004. In less than an hour, one group of family members alerted the others via walkie-talkie that they had found Alonzo’s body.
Back in 2004, the autopsy was inconclusive, and Alonzo’s death remains an open, but cold case.
The family is still organizing.
“We had a meeting Saturday with the family to kind of compare notes as to what everyone is hearing,” Angela Cox, Alonzo’s aunt, said.
When Alonzo disappeared, Alvin Brooks, a then-Kansas City, Mo., city council member and president of an anti-crime organization, said he had received calls through his organization’s hotline suggesting that Alonzo may have been the victim of a racially-motivated crime.
Alonzo was biracial, and calls suggested a white male at the party allegedly tried to start an altercation with Alonzo. He refused to fight.
The FBI investigated his death as a possible hate crime, but to date, the investigation has netted little.
Then Linn County Sheriff Marvin Stites, now deceased, said Alonzo’s body was found in an area that police, dive teams, and cadaver dogs had searched numerous times before family members found his body.
Stites theorized rainfall may have caused the creek to rise and move the body to the location where it was recovered.
After Alonzo went missing, family members found articles of his clothing, including boots and a hat, near the scene of the party. Investigators interviewed dozens of people who attended the party, but have yet to determine what happened to Alonzo.
In 2004, Alonzo’s family told The Gardner News that as many as five persons who were interviewed refused to take polygraph tests.
Cox maintains a Facebook page, “Justice for Alonzo Brooks” dedicated to finding justice for Alonzo. She created the page last October.
Family members believe someone can provide answers about what happened in rural Linn County on April 4, 2004. Some may live in Gardner.
Several young people from Gardner attended the party in La Cynge, and Brooks rode to the party with friends from Gardner.
At the time of his death, Alonzo, originally from Topeka, had lived in Gardner for more than a year. He worked at Countryside Maintenance. Alonzo would turn 35 on May 19 of this year, had his life not ended abruptly six weeks before his 24th birthday.
Cox said the Facebook page is helping.
Cox said Alonzo is still much loved. His family hopes people continue to remember him, and that those who can provide information come forward.
“My whole idea of doing (the Facebook page) was so people could see it and know that we’re still wanting to know what happened,” she said.