BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Twenty-five years after her son was last seen in downtown Wilmington, Lou Smith still bears the unthinkable pain of losing a child. Her pain, made even heavier because her son Bryan was murdered. His case still remains unsolved.
“He is with us in our hearts but not knowing why or who is devastating,” Smith said.
Bryan was last seen in downtown Wilmington on May 2, 1994.
“It’s not just another day for me. It’s 25 years. And many of the detectives who were on the case from the beginning have either retired or passed away,” Smith said.
His body was found floating in Town Creek on May 8, 1994, his throat slit.
“I cannot begin to tell you how difficult this day is and May the 8th, which was the day he was buried. I lost my oldest sister the same day,” Smith said.
Her sister died of a heart attack.
Though 25 years have passed, Smith said the pain of losing a child to a gruesome death never gets easier.
“It’s ongoing pain. It’s a daily pain. But I trust God and hopefully if anybody hears this if they know anything they will come forward and help reduce the pain,” she said.
Smith remains hopeful she and her family will one find out what happened to Bryan.
“I’ll never give up. Never. Until my last day on this earth,” she said. “Someone knows something and I just feel I could not live knowing that I had taken someone’s life and not come forward. And they need to, any answers they may have may be the key to solving this case and I urge them to come forward.”
Bryan was 20 years old when he was killed.
Sitting on a couch holding a picture of her son, Smith recalled some of her favorite memories of him.
“I feel his presence, I can hear his voice, and I dream about him. But I don’t dream about the way he was killed. I dream about the happy memories of him hauling a surfboard, being out on the water with his brother. Now he was a clown. I’m going to tell you he was quite the clown,” she said.
Bryan’s murder has taken a toll on their entire family, but Smith said Bryan’s twin Marion has had an exceptionally hard time.
“My faith is strong and I’m a survivor. But my son, his surviving brother, his twin, if I could wave a magic wand and make him feel better I’d do it in a heartbeat,” Smith said through tears.
Thanks to her faith in God and support groups, Smith is able to make it through the daily pain.
“The day you lose a child your heart breaks. A part of me was taken away. A part of me died when I lost my son but I’m going to keep on,” she said.
Her faith, even allowing her to find a silver lining in the dark day that comes around each year.
“My Bryan is in my heart. And I have a granddaughter who looks exactly like him. She is the female version of Bryan. And she brings so much joy and happiness to my life, they all do. But it’s like looking at him and still having him. But today is a good day as well because my granddaughter was born on this day. She turns 19. So God works in mysterious ways. He gave me something, happiness for this day,” Smith said.
A spokesperson for the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office said detectives are still actively trying to figure out what happened to Bryan.
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