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Family of Willard Bryant Jr. continues to look for answers five years after murder

Posted at 6:26 PM, Nov 18, 2021

BALTIMORE — We tell you stories about victims of crime in Baltimore and it hurts.

Imagine the pain of those who've lost more than one loved one to the violence on the streets.

For one Baltimore woman, the loss she's suffered is beyond personal...it's professional too.

"It's tragic, but it also gives me empathy for other folks," said Tanya Bryant-Nickens.

When she looks into a broken heart, she sees her own pain.

She's a social worker, victims advocate, trauma therapist and also a survivor.

Her twin brother Tonnka Bryant was murdered in a robbery in Northwest Baltimore on March 21, 1994.

"When my mom said he's gone, I couldn't comprehend," she explained. "I could not figure out what she was trying to tell me."

Tanya knows her clients pain and she's had the misfortune of feeling it not once but now twice.

"I heard pow pow pow and I dropped the phone. I jumped up and didn't know what to do I ran to the door," said Caroline Bryant. "I saw the tail end of a grey car and when they moved I saw his body right out there. The minute I got to him I said b-jay, b-jay who did this."

Pleading for answers Caroline Bryant held her dying son in her arms, a second child she and her family would have to bury.

"It was devastating for our entire family," said Tanya. "We did everything as a group of five, including holidays, travel. It just devastated us."

Willard Bryant Jr. or B-Jay as they called him was murdered in the alley right behind their Rogers Avenue home on June 30 just five years ago...he was 36.

One family...two children murdered.

Closure would come soon for Tonnka.

Six months after he was killed Andre Holdclaw was arrested and charged with first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Now they wait for justice for B-Jay.

"We need people to believe us when we say our loved on mattered. What we need is justice," said Tanya. "We need someone to come forward to give us the information they have so we can solve this case because judicial closure is imperative in a homicide case. That's what I learned from losing my twin at 19 years old."

B-Jay was 14 when he lost his hero. Tanya says that changed his life.

"They were always together, always together. He protected him. He provided just safety, security. "

And when he was gone, B-Jay the honors student from Poly, the artist who wanted to be famous...would lose his way, but never strayed too far from home.

Now that happiness is missing in their lives, their hope is someone comes forward like the 13-year-old witness who identified Tonnka's killer.

"She had compassion for us and that's what we're asking for someone to have their compassion and their empathy to far outweigh whatever fear they have," explained Tanya.

Baltimore police believe someone in the neighborhood saw something and they need that person to come forward.

Metro crime stoppers is offering a $4,000 reward and you can remain anonymous.