Balloon Release For Double Homicide Victims

photo by robert noles / the observer


It’s been more than 20 years and an Opelika double homicide is still unsolved.

On Sept. 28, 2001, Tramaris Bryant and Tyrone Brooks were murdered in Bryant’s mobile home in Opelika.

Connye Brooks-Smith, Tyrone’s cousin, has worked to keep the two men’s memories alive over the last 20 years.

“From that point to this one, which is twenty years this year, the double homicide is still an unsolved murder,” she said. “Over the years, of course, the police have said that they have people, certain suspects and just people saying what they’ve heard. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been any solid evidence as far as bringing anyone to justice for these crimes.”

2021-10-02 Silence is Violence Memorial Balloon release

Brooks-Smith said that Bryant and Brooks are the only ones who could fully share the story of what happened that night on Sept. 28.

“I wasn’t living here when it happened but since I’ve been back it’s a constant reminder when you pass by the street all the time,” she said. “Not that it’s bad enough that it’s a void in your family and then under the circumstances, you have to always remember this is how it happened.”

Just finding out what happened may not be enough to provide closure, Brooks-Smith said. Justice, however, for those who murdered the two men, may.

Every other year, Brooks-Smith holds a memorial event to help honor and remember Bryant and Brooks.

This year, she held a balloon release on Saturday.

2021-10-02 Silence is Violence Memorial Balloon release

These events are not only a way of memorializing but of involving public figures, Brooks-Smith said. This is a way to keep the unsolved murders fresh in the minds of local politicians and law enforcement.

Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey was in attendance, along with newly-appointed DA Jessica Ventiere, and two Opelika City Council members.

Brooks-Smith said she’s known Healey a long time, and he’s asked her to give him some time regarding the case.

However, Brooks-Smith said there were things she would have liked to have seen handled differently with the case — such as offering a reward in this double-homicide.

“He’s been on this ride with me for twenty years,” she said. “… He’s reassured me from his standpoint that no case is different.”


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