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Unsolved murders from 2013 still haunt Orlando

Tamika Bryant is still waiting for justice after the shooting death of her husband, Herman “Lil Man” Brant; also, brief profiles of three other unsolved murders from 2013

Photo: Photos courtesy Tamika Bryant, License: N/A

Photos courtesy Tamika Bryant

Photo: , License: N/A

Tamika Bryant says that letting her husband go play poker with his friends is the biggest regret of her life.

The 29-year-old Orlando woman had been married to Herman “Lil Man” Bryant, 31, for almost a year and a half, but they’d known each other since the two were just children attending a Boys and Girls Club in the Carver Shores neighborhood off Kirkman Road. They became romantically involved in 2001, after years of friendship through elementary and high school.

“We were off and on all those years, but we didn’t make it official until 2008,” Tamika recalls with a smile. The two were married on July 23, 2011.

“He had the greatest personality,” she said. “He could spark up a conversation with anyone he meets. He would have you laughing all day.”

Tamika worked as a corrections officer at the 33rd Street jail, and Herman owned a wing and sub shop called Bryant One Stop in a dilapidated neighborhood in West Orlando. It did quite well – enough for Tamika to plan on quitting her job, which she hated. The two wanted to start a home for troubled teens in their old stomping grounds.

Bryant, who was a Mason, was a simple guy. His father gave him his nickname because he was the “runt of the litter” in a family of six children. Even though Lil Man grew up to be rather large, everyone, even his wife, referred to him by his childhood moniker. He liked going to Clearwater Beach; he was a passionate cook; he loved spending time with his parents and siblings, as well as his four children; and he enjoyed playing poker.

On April 16, 2013, the couple spent the morning shopping at the Florida Mall in preparation for a trip to Miami. Tamika’s birthday was in two days, and in addition to enjoying the beach, the couple intended to scout out foster homes to develop some ideas for their own.

They went by Bryant One Stop and closed up shop by 9:15 p.m. Throughout the day, Lil Man mentioned attending a card game with his friends later that night. Tamika objected, but after the restaurant was closed, she eventually let him go.

She woke at 3:45 a.m. to an empty bed. Upset, she called her husband, who said to her, “Baby, I’ll be coming home in a minute. I love you.”

Those were the last words Herman Bryant spoke to his wife. By 4:30 a.m. a drive-by shooter had peppered the Cadogan Avenue house where the poker game took place, and while sitting at his friend’s table, Lil Man was shot in the head. He was pronounced dead hours later.

“I actually saw my husband dead at the funeral home,” Tamika said through her tears. “That was my birthday gift.”

Nearly a year later, Tamika still has no idea who killed her husband.

Of the 19 murders that occurred in Orlando during 2013, four of them are still unsolved, according to the Orlando Police Department. Herman Bryant’s is one.

This morbid fact might be softened by perceptions perpetuated by television and movies, which insinuate through a nightly stream of fictionalized shootouts, police chases and forensics breakthroughs that four unsolved homicides isn’t so bad.

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