Brookelyn Farthing had a reason to celebrate on Friday, June 21, 2013. The 18-year-old had taken and passed her driver’s license exam that morning, and she was absolutely ecstatic about it. She had graduated from high school earlier that month, and she hoped that her dad would let her use his Ford Ranger for the summer.
Brooke lived in Berea, Kentucky, a small town where everyone seemed to know each other and there were no strangers. Brooke was a social teenager with a lot of friends, and she was extremely close with her sisters. She was known as the peacemaker of the family; she couldn’t stand it when people argued. Although she had recently finished high school, she still wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do with her future. She had always dreamed about being a cosmetologist, but she wanted to enjoy the summer before she made any firm decisions about work or college.
Brooke and her 16-year-old sister, Paige, attended a 70th birthday party for their grandfather on the evening of June 21st. He had been in poor health, and the entire extended family showed up to celebrate his birthday. Brooke and Paige left the party with one of their cousins; the three girls had big plans for the night: they were going to a huge outdoor party to mark the beginning of summer.
The school year had just ended, and it seemed like most of the teenagers in Berea showed up at the party, which was held in a large field. A huge bonfire was lit in the middle of the field, and there was loud music and plenty of beer. Paige and her cousin left the party early, leaving Brooke behind. She was planning on spending the night with one of her friends; she had brought an overnight bag with her for the occasion.
As the night wore on, Brooke’s friend became more interested in spending time with one of the teenage boys who was at the party; she eventually decided that she was going to leave with him for a while. This caused an argument to break out between Brooke and her, and Brooke ultimately decided that she no longer wanted to spend the night at her friend’s house. She told her that she was going to go home; her friend then left the party for good, stranding Brooke there without a ride.
Although Brooke had no idea how she was going to get home, she wasn’t about to let that ruin her fun. She spent the next couple hours socializing; she was dancing and drinking and appeared to be having a great time. Well after midnight, she bumped into one of her classmates from high school who had been drinking heavily. It was obvious to Brooke that he was in no shape to drive, so she decided to see if she could find them both a ride home.
As she searched the party for someone sober enough to drive, she ran into 24-year-old Joshua Henley. Although Brooke didn’t know him well, she had been introduced to him before as he was a friend of her ex-boyfriend, Jared. She asked Joshua if he would be able to drive her and her classmate home, and he agreed.
It was after 3:00 am when they dropped off Brooke’s drunk classmate at his home. For some reason, Joshua then took Brooke back to his house; his reasoning for this has never been made clear. His home was in a nice but isolated area on the outskirts of Berea; Brooke would have been somewhat familiar with the area as her Sunday School teacher lived directly across the street from Joshua.
Joshua was going through a divorce at the time, and his home was in foreclosure; both the water and the electricity had already been shut off. Brooke was clearly uncomfortable being there, and she called her sisters to see if someone would be able to pick her up. Unfortunately, her older sister had been drinking and was in no shape to drive, and Paige didn’t have a driver’s license. Brooke didn’t want them to wake up her parents, so she told them not to worry about it, she would call Jared and see if he could come get her.
Brooke and Jared had dated for around three years but had recently ended their relationship. Despite their breakup, they remained close friends and texted each other often. Jared had been unable to attend that party that night; he was working the overnight shift in a local factory. Brooke texted him around 4:00 am to see if she could get a ride, but he told her that he couldn’t leave work until his shift ended around 6:00 am. He asked Brooke if she would be alright until then, and she said that would be fine.
Brooke had been drinking at the party, but she had sobered up by this time. She told Jared that Joshua had already gone to sleep in his bedroom; she was sitting on a couch in his living room smoking a cigarette. Although she found the situation to be quite awkward, she assured Jared that she would be fine until he got done work.
At 4:26 am, Brooke texted Jared again. This time, she appeared to be quite upset and asked him if he could please hurry up and come get her. She said that she was scared, although she didn’t say what had frightened her. Jared was busy at work when this round of text messages came in, though, and he didn’t see them at that time.
Brooke texted Jared for the final time at 5:30 am. She told him that she was fine and to disregard her earlier text messages. She texted that she was going to go to a party in Rockcastle County, about 20 miles away from Berea.
Jared saw her text messages when he finished work around 6:30 am. Assuming that she no longer needed a ride, he went home and went straight to bed, exhausted after his overnight shift.
Brooke had made plans with one of her friends to attend a car show early on Saturday morning, but she didn’t show up. Her friend tried to call her but was unable to reach her, so he called her sister to see if she knew what was going on. Initially, her family wasn’t particularly worried; they assumed that either Brooke’s phone had died or she had finally passed out after her night of partying. By noon, however, they started to get worried.
Paige told her mother that she thought Brooke was going to call Jared for a ride home, so her mother decided to call Jared and see if he knew where Brooke was. Jared told her about the disconcerting text messages, then said that Brooke mentioned going to a party in Rockcastle County. Her family found this to be odd, as they didn’t believe Brooke knew anyone in that area.
After learning that Brooke had been at Joshua’s home, her older sister decided to give him a call. He claimed that he had no idea where Brooke had gone; he had gotten up early to tend to his horses and when he returned around 7:00 am she was gone.
About 15 minutes after Joshua hung up with Brooke’s sister, he called her back. He had apparently left out a few important details in the first phone call; he now claimed that when he got back to his house that morning, it was on fire. He noted that Brooke had been sitting on the couch smoking when he left, and he assumed that she had lit the fire and then left.
None of this made any sense to Brooke’s family, and they found it highly suspicious that Joshua had neglected to mention the fire when he was first questioned. They immediately drove to his house to see what was going on.
By the time Brooke’s family arrived at Joshua’s house, it had been taped off as a crime scene. They learned that Joshua had called 911 at 7:00 am to report a fire in his living room; when firefighters arrived, they found that the fire had been contained to the couch. The fire on the couch had been so hot that it had burned a hole in the floor, but nothing else in the house had been touched. They deemed the fire suspicious and reported it to the police.
Brooke’s family learned that police had found Brooke’s purse, overnight bag, and cowboy boots on the porch of the home; only Brooke and her phone were missing. Kentucky State Police launched an immediate search for the missing teenager. As they started combing through the dense woods that surrounded the home, they realized that the job was not going to be easy. The 16,000-acre area was dotted with ponds, sinkholes, and steep cliffs; they brought in horses, canine units, and divers to assist in the search effort. They would spend weeks meticulously scouring the rough terrain, but found no trace of Brooke.
Detectives interviewed everyone who had attended the party, but it was clear that whatever had happened to Brooke had taken place after she had left the party. Jared was interrogated as well, but he was easily dismissed as a potential suspect. He had an iron-clad alibi; his supervisors confirmed that he had been at work the entire night and hadn’t left the premises until the following morning.
Joshua was an obvious suspect; he had been the last person seen with Brooke and she had disappeared from his home under suspicious circumstances. He continued to insist that he had absolutely no idea what happened to the teenager; he claimed that she had been fine when he left to tend his horses and missing when he got back. Although it was clear that detectives believed he was a good suspect, they had no actual evidence indicating he had done anything to Brooke. He was questioned and released.
Brooke’s family believed that Joshua had likely kil*led Brooke and then burned the couch to cover up the evidence. If so, he did a great job; technicians were unable to obtain any forensic evidence from the couch due to its charred condition.
Although there have been numerous searches for Brooke’s body over the years, no trace of her has ever been found and no charges have been filed in her disappearance. While there are many that believe Joshua is the person responsible, police have never been able to identify any physical evidence linking him to the disappearance and likely mu*rder of Brooke. Her family believes that she is de*ad, but would like to be able to find her body and give her a proper burial.
Brookelyn Farthing was 18 years old when she went missing in 2013. She has brown eyes and blonde hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighed 105 pounds. She was last seen wearing denim shorts and a gray T-shirt imprinted with the Madison County Future Farmers of America logo. She has a birthmark on her left hip. If you have any information about Brooke, please contact the Kentucky State Police at 859–623–2404.