It's been five years. Five years since Brookelyn Farthing, then 18, of Madison County, was last seen at a home on Dillon Court, Berea. Five years since her family heard her voice or saw her face. Five years since they began searching for answers.
And five years later, they are still looking and seeking justice for the one who took their Brooke, as they called her, away.
"It's still a waiting game for us," said her sister, Tasha Thomas, to The Register Thursday afternoon, noting the family's continued efforts in sifting through facts and a barrage of rumors to find out just what happened to Brookelyn that night.
What we know
What follows is the sequence of events that led to Brookelyn's disappearance, as told to The Register by Thomas.
On June 21, 2013, Brookelyn and her younger sister Paige had taken their driver's license tests. Brookelyn passed; Paige did not — which became a running joke amongst the family for the rest of the day.
That night, the girls, along with their family, attended their Papaw's 70th birthday celebration. He had been ill and the party was important.
Afterward, the sisters attended yet another birthday (field) party on Red Lick Road, along with a cousin. Between 7 and 8 p.m., Paige and the girls' cousin decided to leave the party. Brookelyn stayed, as she made plans to stay with a friend who was also in attendance. She carried with her an overnight bag.
"She was good friends with most of the people down there," said Thomas, of the party. "My sisters had grown up in the Red Lick area throughout their high school years."
The friend whom Brookelyn planned to stay with that night wanted to go spend the night at a boy's house. Uncomfortable with the idea, Brookelyn and the friend had a small argument. She stayed at the party; her friend left.
When the party was ending, witnesses saw Brookelyn catch a ride with two young men (their names are being withheld as no arrests in the case have been made).
The three allegedly drove to Floyd Branch Road to see some horses. Later, one of the men was dropped off at his home. The other man took Brookelyn to his home on Dillon Court. Being in foreclosure, the home had no running water or electricity, Thomas noted.
Once there, Brookelyn called Paige around 4 a.m. on June 22, and asked if there was any way their cousin could pick her up — but the cousin had been drinking and was unable to do so. Not wanting their mother to be woken up to come get her, Brookelyn said she would call her ex-boyfriend to pick her up when he got off work from his third-shift job.
According to Thomas, Brookelyn sounded fine on the phone; there was no evidence of her being drunk or scared. She just sounded tired and ready to come home.
Brookelyn made plans with her ex-boyfriend, which her sister said have been confirmed. He would pick her up after he got off work. But, sometime after 4 a.m., Brookelyn sent texts saying “Can you hurry,” “Please hurry,” and “I’m scared.” The texts stopped after her ex received one saying “never mind" and that she was going to a party with some friends in Rockcastle County.
“He did try to ask her who she was going with, but she never sent anything back at that point,” Thomas said, adding the ex-boyfriend then went home.
On Saturday, June 22, 2013, Brookelyn was supposed to be going to a car show in Somerset with friends. When she never showed and couldn’t be reached by phone, they contacted Paige around 2 p.m.
After word from Paige that Brookelyn couldn’t be found, family began calling and searching for her. Paige told the family that Brookelyn’s friend had said she had left with a man from the party.
“We had never heard of (the man). Paige knew most of Brookelyn’s friends…however, she would have never left with someone unless she was comfortable with them,” said Thomas, adding the family believes he was a friend or relative of Brookelyn’s ex-boyfriend.
After Paige obtained the man’s phone number, Thomas made the phone call, stating that they couldn’t reach Brookelyn and were getting a little worried. He told her that, yes, Brookelyn had caught a ride with him, but that after bringing her back to his house, he wasn’t comfortable staying there since he was friends with her ex-boyfriend and had left to put the horses back up. Before he left, the man told Thomas, no one had come to pick Brookelyn up but said he heard her talking about a party in Rockcastle County.
Twenty minutes later, the man calls Thomas again, stating he is scared. All of Brookelyn’s things were inside his house. He goes on to say when he returned from putting up the horses that morning, his house was on fire and that maybe it came from a cigarette Brookelyn was smoking on the couch before he left, all which Thomas said he didn’t tell her in their first conversation.
The days that followed
When 24 hours had passed, Brookelyn’s mother filed a police report. Family and friends went to the Dillon Court home to search for her themselves — her items sat on the front porch, among them her shoes. Only Brookelyn, the clothes she was wearing and her cell phone were missing.
According to police, records show Brookelyn’s phone received more than 1,000 phone calls in 24 hours as people had tried to reach her, Thomas said.
Starting that Sunday, Kentucky State Police began interviews. That week, large-scale searches were conducted in the Red Lick area and nearby Owsley Fork Lake by police, cadets, people on horses and by search dogs.
A missing piece
“Now, (police) have told the family we can keep searching as much as we want, but they can’t keep doing it unless they have a really good reason to search an area,” Thomas said, noting the family’s desire to see more attention given to the case which continues to grow cold.
Thomas said the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has been seeking information from the case file.
Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith confirmed his continued interest in the case to reevaluate steps that could be taken, also citing that his office has had continuing conversations with the investigating detective over the years as well.
When asked how the family is doing, now that five years has passed, Thomas said they feel like Brookelyn is gone — that something bad truly did happen, as she had no reason to want to run away.
“It’s hard on all of us. There are moments of depression and anger. That’s the problem with missing person cases, the family doesn’t get closure and they go through grief over and over again. It never stops,” said Thomas. “We feel like we know who is responsible. We feel like that person either did it or knows exactly what happened. They have a part in it some way…you want to scream just tell us what you did.”
Since Brookelyn no longer has a voice, Thomas said she feels it is her responsibility to speak for her sister. Because of this, she does countless interviews about her sister’s story, which have appeared on various news outlets across the nation. Soon, Oxygen Network will publish a show about Brookelyn in an online mini-series.
Additionally, the family continues to keep Brookelyn’s story alive at FindBrookeFarthing.com in hopes of bookending the nightmare they have endured for five years. There, information about Brookelyn’s case can be found, as well as a tip line where information can be sent anonymously to the family as they look for credible information to send to KSP.
A $14,000 reward is also being offered for information leading to Brookelyn’s return or the capture and conviction of those responsible for her disappearance. If multiple people provide credible information, the reward will be divided among them, according to Thomas.
Thomas said she hopes that everyone who reads this story, or hears an interview, is given a sense of what happened that fateful night and that the rumor mills will stop.
“There is only a few hours that something could have happened (between Brookelyn’s phone call to Paige around 4 a.m. and the 911 response to the fire on Dillon Court just after 7 a.m.),” said Thomas. “There is a missing piece. I feel like if someone that might have been up that morning saw something (they thought) was as minor as a vehicle pass and finally lets us know, that could be what we need…we just want closure. We want to put her to rest the way she needs to be.”
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According to Kentucky State Police, over the past five years, officers have followed countless tips and examined the case for things that might have been missed. They ask that anyone who knows anything please come forward to assist the investigation.
To contact KSP, call 859-623-2404 or download the KSPolice app.