Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Richmond Remembers the Harvey Family

Well known Virginia family of four murdered on New Year's Day

Two memorial events are planned this week:

Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 5:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church on Blanton Avenue.
Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 7 p.m. in front of the family's home in Woodland Heights, 812 W. 31st St.

Family of four found slain in home
By the Associated Press
January 2 2006 - RICHMOND, Va.

Police on Monday continued searching for clues in the murder of a prominent local family, whose bodies were discovered in their home.

Firefighters responding to a report of a blaze at the house found the bodies of Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their two young daughters, Stella and Ruby, Sunday afternoon.

Police would not comment on the condition of the bodies, but the Richmond Times-Dispatch, citing police sources, reported the family was discovered bound in the basement with their throats cut.

All four were pronounced dead at the scene, said police spokeswoman Cynthia Price. The bodies were sent to the medical examiner's office for autopsies. Police are investigating the case as a homicide and arson, Price said.

Investigators said the Harveys had invited friends to the house for a New Year's Day chili party. A family friend who arrived with his daughter walked inside and was immediately engulfed in smoke. "I yelled out, and no one answered, so I figured they all must be on a walk or something," Johnny Hott said. He then shouted for a neighbor to call 911.

According to the Times-Dispatch, a family friend said 39-year-old Kathryn Harvey was the half-sister of Steven Culp, who played Rex Van De Kamp on "Desperate Housewives." Bryan Harvey, 49, was a member of the popular local band, NrG Krysys, and was a former guitarist and singer for the critically acclaimed House of Freaks, which released five albums on three labels between 1987 and 1995.

Harvey and his band had played at a local hotel New Year's Eve and returned home at 2 a.m., friends and family said. His 9-year-old daughter Stella spent the night at a friend's house and returned home at 10 a.m. Sunday, where she was greeted at the door by her mother, friends and neighbors said.

Police on Monday were trying to determine when the family was killed and what started the fire. They had not named any suspects and did not know of a possible motive for the crime, Price said.

Investigators were also trying to determine whether anything was stolen from the house. "The detectives are working the case very hard," Price said. "They've been canvassing the neighborhood, talking to associates of the family and trying to find any possible leads."

The crime frightened members of the middle-class neighborhood, which hasn't logged a homicide since 1987, when serial killer Timothy Spencer murdered Dr. Susan Hellams. Spencer, better known as the South Side Strangler, was executed in 1994.

A crisis team was being organized to assist students at the elementary school where Stella was a third-grader, said Daniela Jacobs, principal of Fox Elementary School. "She was a wonderful little girl," Jacobs said of Stella. "She was a happy little girl." Stella's 4-year-old sister, Ruby, was a preschooler at Second Presbyterian Church's child-care center. Her mother was the co-owner of a retro gift shop.

"They were just wonderful people," said Chuck Wrenn, a longtime friend of the family's. "They contributed a great deal to the community. ... I just couldn't imagine what could have happened."


If you lived in the city of Richmond, this couple was hard to miss. Their deaths have sent shock waves through Central Virginia as friends and family members try to make sense of it all. Police are releasing few details as of yet.

I knew them, but not well. Many friends of mine were very close to them and are in a state of shock this week. If you lived in downtown Richmond for any length of time you knew them - or their faces at least.

Bryan was "a pillar of the Richmond music scene," as described by longtime friend Chuck Wrenn. To me, he will always be remembered as the singer for The Dads in the 80's and later on as the critics favorite House of Freaks. I am posting my favorite song of theirs -- "Sun Goes Down" from their Tantilla album.

Kathryn owned World of Mirth in Richmond's Carytown retail district. If you needed a cool toy for your hipster friends or their kids, you went here. Kathryn's interest in campy retro toys and collectibles made this store a Richmond must see.

I pray for their families and for justice to be served. Richmond has lost some of its eclectic character this week.

More information can be found through Technorati.


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