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LA CYGNE, Kan. — The U.S. attorney who launched a second federal investigation into the death of Alonzo Brooks in La Cygne, Kansas, says he’s now even more certain the Gardner man was murdered 16 years ago.

Brooks went to a rural party in Linn County in April 2004, but he never came home. A month later, his friends and family found his decomposing body in Middle Creek.

“They think we are looking at a homicide,” U.S. Attorney for Kansas Steve McAllister said.

That’s what the top forensic experts at Dover Air Force Base are working to prove. The team is often called on to ID decades-old war remains, but now they’re assisting in this potential hate crime killing after Brooks’ body was exhumed in July.

“He had advanced decomposition around the neck and throat area, and that is what they have really focused on,” McAllister said.

All this while investigators focus on local partygoers, 50-60 initial witnesses that led to even more witnesses. It’s a tedious process, requiring agents to knock down long-standing rumors while focusing on new leads.

One of their newest discoveries includes learning of a second party about a mile and a half from the Linn County gathering that Brooks attended.

Investigators have learned that a fight occurred at this nearby party, and many of the attendees left and joined the party at the farmhouse where Brooks was.

“A lot of rather violent and aggressive partiers from that second party ended up at the farmhouse party, which was already having its own altercations,” McAllister said.

That’s where even more experts enter. The FBI’s behavioral analysis unit, made up of expert profilers, is helping local agents with interview techniques designed to trigger dormant memories as they talk to people present at both parties all those years ago.

McAllister said it’s working, leading to new details that are inching his team closer.

“And this is a time where if people know something, this is their opportunity to get ahead of it,” he said. “They can come to us now still. Let us know what they know because before too long it’s going to be too late to help themselves.”

Brooks’ brother, aunt and mother told FOX4 they’ve been praying for a break in this case since that fateful night.

“Somebody knows what happened,” Brooks brother said.

“I just want to know what happened to my son and why,” his mother added.

It’s an elusive 16-year-old question that McAllister believes they’re within months of answering.

“We still believe very much we’re going to solve this,” he said. “We’re determined to solve this.”

McAllister said while the new party might help explain the heightened tensions at the party, investigators still believe Brooks’ death was a hate crime. He was one of only three Black people there that night.

A $100,000 reward is still available for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whomever was involved. You can call the FBI at 816-512-8200 or leave a tip online here.