25 Years and still looking for answers

Gina Dawn Brooks went missing Aug. 5, 1989 when she was 14 years old. Since then numerous leads have come in, but not many have panned out. Authorities are still searching for Brooks and investigating all leads that come in. 

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Twenty six years have passed and there are still no answers to a local missing persons case that holds a place in the minds of many. 

Fredericktown Police Chief Eric Hovis said last year on the 25th anniversary of the disappearance of Gina Dawn Brooks that the department and the FBI still receive tips or leads on Brooks, who was 13 at the time of her disappearance and was last seen on Aug. 5, 1989.

She has never been found. A suspect has never been found. While one was charged, those charges were later dropped. And, unfortunately, not much has changed with the passage of one more year.

“This is still an active case. We receive numerous leads and it’s mainly because it is a nationwide case,” said Hovis this time last year. “Leads come in constantly when someone is missing and until we can get closure, it will remain an active case.”

Hovis said this case has been passed down for 25 years through the Fredericktown Police Department.

Two of the main investigators in the case, Fredericktown Police Captain Keith DeSpain and Madison County Sheriff David Lewis, have since retired, but the main FBI agent for the case is still in the region and is active on the case. Anytime the police department or the FBI receive new leads both departments work together to follow up on them. 

Hovis said dozens of calls have come into the Fredericktown Police Department and FBI in recent years. The departments check everything.

“We have numerous conversations with the prosecutors, agents and investigators and plenty of eyes have seen the case,” said Hovis.

Hovis said they keep in touch with her family and let them know each time they have a new lead in the case.

“We want to try and find her or bring them closure,” said Hovis.  “I was working in Franklin County when Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Owenby were found. I still have hope of finding Gina, because of that case. You have to check everything that comes in.”

According to the original missing person report filed Aug. 6, 1989, a person went to Fredericktown Police Department and reported finding a girl’s bicycle, red in color, lying on its side alongside the street in front of a home in the 300 block of High Street.

The person living at the address at the time reported he heard voices prior in the direction of the street and the sound of a small engine motor vehicle traveling north and turning west onto Franklin.

Brooks' mother reported at 2 a.m. that Gina had been missing since 10:30 p.m. Aug. 5.

Reportedly a light blue, gray, or green station wagon was seen at the same time as a witness heard a scream in the neighborhood and the sound of a car driving off.

The investigation was at a standstill until years later, when the station wagon's alleged driver, Bryant Squires, reportedly made a deathbed confession in 1996.

Nathan D. "Danny" Williams, an associate of Squires, was charged with Gina's murder. That first-degree murder charge was dropped due to a lack of evidence months later.

Williams is serving time for a conviction in St. Louis in connection with the statutory rape of a young girl. That occurred within months of when Gina disappeared in Fredericktown.

Williams denies any involvement in the disappearance and murder of Brooks. At one point he told a St. Louis newspaper columnist, "I've never even been to Fredericktown."

As he was being led from the Madison County Courthouse after his preliminary hearing in 1999, Williams told reporters, "I didn't kill anybody."

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Fredericktown Police Department at 573-783-2234 or the FBI.

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