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Brookley was last seen in Greenwood, Indiana on June 24, 2002. She stopped at her father's residence in the 1400 block of Cottonwood Drive at approximately 4:00 p.m. to retrieve some of her clothing. Brookley summoned authorities to the house after realizing that her father's personal computer had been stolen. Officers completed the burglary report at approximately 5:30 p.m. and departed from the scene. A witness may have seen Brookley enter the passenger side of her 1990 Chevrolet Corsica shortly afterwards. An unidentified young male may have been driving the vehicle at the time. Later, she told her mother she was going to spend the night at a friend's house. Brookley has never been heard from again.
Brookley was reported missing on June 26, two days after her disappearance. Authorities received an anonymous tip and located her vehicle in Waverly, Indiana on July 1, 2002. The car was abandoned in a parking lot near Indiana State Road 37 and Highway 144, approximately ten miles from her father's apartment. There was no sign of her at the scene.
Brookley's mother, Kim, said that her daughter had criminal problems in 2001, but had changed her lifestyle by June 2002. She had previously been addicted to methamphetamines but by the time of her disappearance appeared to be recovering from her addiction, and was pursuing a modeling career. Kim said that Brookley had nearly completed her probation and community service by the time of her disappearance. Her father, Scott A. Louks, agreed and said that it was uncharacteristic of Brookley to leave without warning. Scott's photo is posted below this case summary. Brookley left all of her clothing behind and also left her kitten unattended. She did not hold any credit cards at the time of her disappearance, making it difficult to track her possible financial activity since that time.
Investigators searched Joseph Nowicki's residence in the 4600 block of Old Smith Valley Road in late July 2002. His photo is posted below this case summary. Nowicki had an extensive criminal history that dates back to his teen years includes convictions for murder, robbery, and rape. Kim said that her daughter knew Nowicki and often assisted him care for his horses. Officials seized his van and personal computer during the search. Nowicki was not allowed to possess firearms as the result of his previous convictions; he was arrested on weapons charges after authorities discovered guns inside his family's home. Nowicki claimed the weapons belonged to his wife and he only cleaned the firearms.
Officials announced that Nowicki was the prime suspect in Brookley's disappearance shortly after the search. He reportedly gave conflicting statements as to his whereabouts on the night of June 24. Nowicki claimed that he was at his residence during the evening, but others indicated that he requested rides from Waverly during the same time span. Nowicki's alleged location at the time was near the parking lot where Brookley's vehicle was eventually discovered. Phone records indicated he placed over 12 calls on the night of June 24, including several calls to Scott. Melinda Owen, described as Nowicki's acquaintance, told officials that he claimed Brookley was missing during their phone conversation. Nowicki reportedly asked Owen to keep the information confidential and claimed he planned to hire a private investigator to locate Brookley. Owen allegedly spoke to Scott during another phone conversation on June 25, the day after Brookley vanished and the day before her disappearance was reported.
Nowicki reportedly told other witnesses that he and Brookley were involved in an illegal prescription pill transaction in late June 2002. He allegedly said that he recognized an individual who accompanied her to their final meeting as an undercover officer. Authorities have not confirmed the information. Brookley's mother says Nowicki was infatuated with Brookley and shortly before her disappearance was upset because she had not been to see him and had been associating with other teenagers. When questioned by police about Brookley's disappearance, Nowicki stated he believed she met with an "ill fate." Authorities found blood in his workshop, and evidence that someone had tried to mop a substantial amount of blood off the floor. Nowicki claimed that he injured himself while working on an upholstery project and used a rag to clean the area, but DNA testing confirmed the blood belonged to Brookley. There was not enough blood to indicate that she had been killed, however.
Nowicki pleaded not guilty to the firearms charges resulting from the search on his home. He was released from prison in July 2003, for medical and compassionate reasons, as he was dying of cancer. He went to live in a hospice after this release. Nowicki died on August 29, 2003, without speaking about Brookley's disappearance to police. Authorities were planning to convene a grand jury and attempt to charge him with murder, but he died before they could do so. They now say they doubt Brookley's case can be solved with Nowicki dead. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began investigating the case in 2006.
Scott was never named as a possible suspect in his daughter's case, but investigators believed that he was withholding information related to her disappearance. Scott received immunity from prosecution after speaking to authorities in July 2002. He retained an attorney afterwards and declined additional law enforcement interview requests. Prosecutors subpoenaed him in an effort to force him to divulge additional details in August 2002. Scott's attorney argued that detectives were demanding irrelevant information about his client's past that was unrelated to Brookley's case. Scott moved out of his Greenwood apartment shortly after Brookley was reported missing. He died of natural causes related to heavy alcohol and drug consumption in November 2002, four months after Brookley vanished. If Scott did possess additional information connected to his daughter's case, he did not share it with anyone prior to his death.
Kim received a phone call from an unidentified female in late June 2002. The individual was crying while she left a voice mail message and asked Kim to "come now" before terminating the call. The call was traced to Bethesda, Maryland, but officials are uncertain if Brookley left the message herself. Divers searched part of the White River near Martinsville, Indiana in September 2002 in an effort to locate evidence related to Brookley's disappearance. Authorities believe she was murdered and her body hidden somewhere. It is unclear if the robbery at Scott's former residence was connected to her disappearance.
Brookley's family members created a website devoted to her disappearance, which remains unsolved. Her mother believes Nowicki murdered her but did not commit the crime alone; she theorizes that he had accomplices. Brookley remains missing and is presumed dead, but her remains have not been located and no one has been charged in her disappearance.
Left: Scott Louks, approximate date 2002;
Right: Joseph Nowicki