Jeannie “Willene” Bryant has dedicated the last 17 years to keeping her brother’s memory alive, while seeking justice for his homicide. Willene admits, with frustration, that she does not know what transpired the evening her little brother, Terry Rewis, was killed.
Bubba, as he was lovingly called, was the victim of a reported hit-and-run on April 21, 2002.
“There are just so many questions. All these years, I’ve just had so many questions and it’s like my little brother has been forgotten about,” Willene shared in 2016 interview with Dateline.
The surviving sibling reflects on her late brother’s personality, describing him as both silly and serious. Bubba put great effort into changing his life for the better, but he never got to see his labors appreciated or reap the benefits.
“Terry’s life was hard. It started off hard and it seemed to get harder,” Willene stated. “But he was trying to put it back together and put things on track.”
According to Willene, her brother’s body was found on the side Highway 56 in Swainsboro, Georgia, by a group of hunters. The lack of evidence or clues at the scene challenged the investigators from the start. Subsequent investigations revealed that Rewis had been picked up by an acquaintance driving a truck earlier that day. Rewis then attended the Ogeechee River Redbreast Festival in the neighboring city of Midville.
Rewis reportedly left the festival alone on foot that night. Swainsboro was roughly 6 miles away, and he decided to make the trek back on foot.
Questions are abundant regarding that night, but so are the theories.
Willene shares her numerous speculations, ranging from a local dispatcher inadvertently striking Bubba, to him being thrown out of a truck following a heated exchange with the other occupants, resulting in his death.
Although both the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia State Patrol worked toward solving this case, no follow-up leads or tips have been fruitful in identifying what happened to Bubba Rewis on April 21, 2002.
While Willene waits for answers, she continues to advocate. She devotes her time to honoring her brother’s memory, with the intent of finding him justice. She hosts events in surrounding cities aimed at grabbing attention and producing answers in her brother’s death. At the very least, she hopes the events raise some awareness for Bubba and other victims.
Willene is firmly set in her beliefs that the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t devoted all the resources needed to solve Bubba’s case. She implies that her family’s socioeconomic status is partially to blame.
In her interview with Dateline, Willene explains, “We are a poor family, and sometimes it seems like people just don’t care. But we aren’t going to give up looking for justice for my baby brother. Never.”
If you have any information on the death of Terry Rewis, please call the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Department at 478-237-7526.
Research and Impact
Advocacy and research into areas of racial disparities and socioeconomic factors impacting the solvability of a case is a growing concern for academia. The number of cleared or solved murders depend on deciphering nuisance complexities within the clearance rate.
Retired NYPD detective sergeant Joe Giacalone discussed the issue in a 2014 NPR interview. “Any loss of life is a problem as far as I’m concerned,” Giacalone said. “But one thing I can say about myself and anybody in the New York City Police Department, we treated every homicide the same way – doesn’t matter a race, color, creed, religion. It didn’t matter. We put the same effort into solving those cases as we would anybody else.”
Combating this perception issue is often a theme within victim services community. Project: Cold Case hears all too often the perceptions left upon a family when a loved one is murdered, mirroring concerns that their loved one wasn’t “worth” the resources to investigate.
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