Warning: Spoilers ahead, if you haven’t seen this episode.
Whelp. That didn’t take long. I said the third episode of Unsolved Mysteries was the best yet, but now I’m amending that to say the fourth episode, “No Ride Home,” is the best yet. All of the subjects so far have been tragic, whether they were actually suicides or murders, but this one hit me in a different way.
In April 2004, Alonzo Brooks and his friends drive an hour or so from Gardner, Kansas to LaCygne, Kansas for a party. In one way or another, all of his friends he came to the party with or was at the party with, leave him by himself.
He doesn’t come home again.
For the next 27 days, the police begin investigating, and eventually, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are involved. Law enforcement scours the area around the farmhouse where the party took place, with search parties, dive teams (because of a nearby creek), helicopters and cadaver dogs.
Nothing; no sign of Alonzo, other than a friend of his the morning after the party initially finding Alonzo’s boots and hat near the roadway.
After that 27-day period on May 1, Alonzo’s family starts their own search. Let’s keep in mind these are amateurs, obviously. It’s not as if they’ve searched for a missing person or a dead body before.
They find Alonzo near the creek.
The coroner reviews the body, and is unable to determine a cause of death, whether accidental, if he was unintentionally or intentionally harmed or if it was a homicide. The KBI closed its case on the matter, determining there was no “evidence or information gained” to suggest a crime had occurred.
By one’s friend account, Alonzo and another guy had a nose-to-nose argument at the party that he had to break up. By a different friend’s account, there was no animosity at the party. Either way, all of the friends ended up leaving Alonzo there by himself. I particularly don’t understand the friend who had to literally break-up a potential altercation and then still leaves him there by himself.
When I’m drinking with my friends, I’ve always felt a strong ethos of “watch your friends’ back.” Because we all want to wake up and live to experience that hangover, right? So, it’s hard for me to imagine driving to a party that far away from home, and leaving one of my friends there. Or leaving after they almost got into a fight. That’s just me, and perhaps I’m too harsh in judging the friends that did that to Alonzo here. But it’s a frustrating aspect of the story that makes the outcome (death) feel preventable. But again, maybe I’m too harsh and that’s also with the benefit of hindsight.
Did Alonzo stumble away from the house, fall down passed-out-drunk and die drowning in his own vomit or from water by the creek? Or was he the victim of a hate crime, as the family believes, and was killed by someone or someones at the party? Whatever the answer, two questions remain outstanding to me:
1.) Why did a bunch of amateurs find Alonzo’s body 27 days after the local and federal authorities, and an experienced dive team did not? Was it just luck and coincidence, somehow the experienced people overlooked his body 250 feet from the farmhouse? Or was the body not there in that 27-day window and was then placed there afterward for the family to find, as the family believes?
2.) If he stumbled away from the party or most certainly, if he was attacked at the party, surely someone from the party witnessed something compelling? Someone saw him stumbling away? Someone saw him getting attacked? Apparently, the federal authorities did extensive interviews, presumably with members of the party, and none of that sort of information turned up. Why not?
What a perplexing story. What happened to Alonzo? Now that I’m thinking about it, one of his boots and his hat was found on one side of the roadway, and the other boot was found on the opposite side. If he was stumbling drunk and died as such, how did that happen in that way? If he was killed, how did that happen in that way?
And the autopsy at least doesn’t indicate he was beaten down by multiple men, or perhaps hit by a car in a hit-and-run scenario. The only possibility seems to be strangling, which the coroner couldn’t rule out due to perceived damage to the neck from animals. The latter also seems to run counter to the idea that his body was placed there after the 27-day-window if animals were able to damage his neck.
In the end, I go back to the party. Whatever fate awaited Alonzo when he left that party (if he left of his own accord), someone or someones at that party had to have witnessed something of pertinence. Why aren’t they saying something? Is it possible nobody witnessed anything of pertinence? Between 30 and 50 people were at that party. Nobody saw anything? If the KBI and FBI really did do extensive interviews of everyone, including the partygoers, that’s what they seem to have ascertained.
… which is bewildering.