Her nude body was found along a rural Delaware County Road in 1999; her killers were never brought to justice
Sep. 15, 2013
In the late morning hours of Jan. 29, 1999, a postal carrier traveling down Delaware County Road 700-E, just south of Centennial Avenue, unexpectedly drove upon a macabre scene.
What appeared to be the nude, lifeless body of a woman was face-down in a water-filled drainage ditch, perhaps an equal distance between the county road to the east and a bean field — temporarily barren, due to the time of year — to the west. As she drove to a factory down the road to ask someone for help, the mail carrier pondered what she had actually just seen. Perhaps it was a mannequin, she told herself.
Sadly, her first impression had been correct. The body was that of Joni Michele Brooks, a 43-year-old mother of five who for more than a decade had lived life on the edge, battling an addiction to crack cocaine...
An autopsy would show Brooks had drowned in that ditch, where the depth of the water, flowing fairly briskly to the north, was measured at eight inches.
Her body also reflected what Delaware County Coroner James St. Myer would label “blunt force trauma” on her head, torso, arms and legs
In May 1987, she accidentally fell from her family’s van — traveling down a city street at the time — and struck her head on the pavement.Brooks regained consciousness after a week and was hospitalized for about a month... Friends and relatives would later say she was never the same person after suffering a severe brain injury in that fall. The dramatic behavioral changes would wreck havoc on her career and personal life.
In the wake of her death, investigators would consider various theories as to how and why Joni Brooks ended up in that Liberty Township ditch.There was speculation that perhaps her last ingestion of cocaine had caused an overdose, prompting her companions that night to believe she had died and, in a panic, dispose of her body in an isolated area.
“We interviewed several people,” Pyle told The Star Press. “And we still kind of have somebody in the back of our mind. But I don’t think it will ever come out.“Everybody was scared of him then and they’re scared of him now.”