Brooke Holsonback: Ten Years Ago Today

I was in a hurry. I’d left the family in the car while I ran in to the store to get zinc cough drops, a collection of medicines, some herbal tea, and some other sundries. As I stood in the check-out line, I noticed the guy behind me had a newspaper. On the front page was a picture that I’ve looked at more times than I can count.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the day Clemson University student Brooke Holsonback was found floating in Lake Hartwell.

There has been so much written about the subject that I can’t offer much more than I have in the past.

The story, The Murder of Brooke Holsonback, was one of the first stories I really cared about when I moved to this community.

Back over the summer, during the Tiffany Souers murder at Clemsn, I spent a lot of time thinking about Brooke, her family, and the one investigator who spent a good chunk of his career beating his head against the wall over this case. That investigator and I had a long off-the-record conversation one afternoon in his little office.

By the time I ended up writing the story, it had been–as we always called it– lawyered to death. The key paragraphs in the story read like this:

“Both Bryant and Jeff were drinking heavily. Brooke actually drove them to the mud bog,” Oconee County Investigator Sgt. Greg Reed recalls.

The trio’s trip ended in a muddy field just a couple of miles from the dorms. No one except Gallup and Dubnansky can confirm any detail from that point forward.

“All we have is what Jeff and Bryant can give us,” Reed said.

The two men told investigators the mud was thick that night and their black 1996 Jeep Cherokee got stuck. The situation started a fight.

Jeff Dubnansky and Bryant Gallup said that when they stopped fighting Brooke was gone.

The men said that they looked for Brooke but couldn’t find her. Dubnansky walked back to the dorms, picked up some friends and went back to retrieve the Jeep.

The men told investigators that they went back to the dorms and fell asleep. When they woke up the next day around noon, they saw a news report about a body being found in Lake Hartwell.

A few weeks later, Dubnansky and Gallup dropped out of Clemson and hired lawyers.

Ten years ago today, somebody killed Brooke Holsonback. And to this day, that person is living a life of freedom.

I wonder what that person is thinking about today.

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Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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1 Response

  1. May 1, 2009

    […] Brooke Holsonback was found murdered in Lake Hartwell near Clemson University in February 1997. Though the case has focused largely on two of her male schoolmates, the case remains unsolved. […]

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