Heartbreaking and maddening.
Heartbreaking that a 19-year-old’s life came to a violent end.
Maddening that the perpetrators of this bestial crime are still breathing free air.
To make matters worse, police are able to identify with certainty the people they claim are responsible for Brooke Holsonback’s murder, but have thus far been unable to accrue the evidence needed to render an arrest. We even paid a visit to one of the individuals named by investigators, as you’ll see, to hear what he had to say about the murder, but the dude refused to answer his door even though it was clear he was home.
Here’s my report, via Crime Watch Daily:
The case that’s gnawed at Oconee CountySheriff’s Captain Greg Reed is the senseless killing of 19-year-old Brooke Holsonback, a tragedy still tearing at the broken hearts of Brooke’s parents, Warren and Debbie.
Brooke was the firstborn of the Holsonbacks’ three children. Brooke had a special glow that enchanted everyone, even when she was just a little girl growing up in the small country town of Prosperity, South Carolina.
In high school, Brooke was a cheerleader and was the smartest girl in her class. She was accepted into nearby Clemson University when she was still just in the 11th grade.
“They sent her a letter and they told her to come up and that she could major in whatever she wanted,” said Warren Holsonback, Brooke’s father.
So after graduating from high school, Clemson is where she went to major in biochemistry.
“She was hoping that after she got through she can maybe do some cancer research, and who knows, maybe find a cure for cancer,” said Warren.
But Brooke would never get a chance to achieve her noble ambitions.
She was murdered just six months into her freshman year of college.
Clemson University is a school known for its athletics and small-town appeal. But less than two miles from this picturesque campus, the freshman student lost her life. She was found dead on February 20, 1997.
Around 9:30 one night, Brooke visits the dorm room of classmate Bryant Gallup, where he was hanging out with another student named Jeff Dubnansky.
“The guys wanted to go mud-bogging and both had been drinking a bit, so she was going to drive for them,” said Capt. Reed. “They ended up at the mud bog and they got stuck.”
Then Gallup and Dubnansky reportedly begin arguing and tussling. They said Brooke was nowhere in sight.
“According to them, she had just walked off,” said Reed.
And when Brooke didn’t return to the dorm, her roommate reported her missing to university police around noon the next day.
At almost exactly the same time, a worker sees Brooke’s body floating in Lake Hartwell, near the muddy field where she had reportedly gone four-wheeling with Gallup and Dubnansky the night before.
At first it appeared Brooke had drowned. But Detective Reed would soon learn this was no accident: She died as a result of strangulation. At 19, she had been a student for less than six months.
Investigators say they think they know who did it, but they need more evidence before they can bring charges.
The coroner’s investigation concludes that Brooke had been strangled after possibly being sexually assaulted.
“There had been some kind of sexual altercation because she did have some minute lesions and tears around the vaginal area,” said Reed.
Minor abrasions were also found on other parts of her body, and Reed, then a detective-sergeant leading the investigation, immediately questioned the last people known to see Brooke alive: fellow students Bryant Gallup and Jeff Dubnansky.
In fact, Bryant Gallup was in his car crying as he watched investigators retrieve Brooke’s body from the lake. He told Capt. Reed that he ‘just knew’ something bad had happened to Brooke.
Reed says that both Gallup and Dubnansky were administered lie detector tests and the results were positive for “signs of deception.”
We paid Bryant Gallup a visit to get his side of the story.