This morning my brother, who works in the Richmond, Virginia area, called and asked me if I knew Bryan Harvey.
I was familiar with The House of Freaks when the group was based in LA, and Gutterball with Steve Wynn; and I ran into Bryan and his wife from time to time when I was down in the Richmond area visiting my brother and/or Stephen McCarthy (of The Long Ryders, who has played in several bands with Bryan since they both moved back to Richmond in the late eighties). Twice I saw Harvey dressed as Presley when he sang in the band Fat Elvis--with McCarthy (it may have been Fat Elvis' only two shows).
My brother told me that he had just read in the paper that Bryan and his family were found dead in their home.
I have no other details but what is noted below in the Richmond newspaper, the Times-Dispatch.
(My gal Nancy and I had a nice visit with Stephen McCarthy when we were in Richmond in November. Stephen told me about Bryan's band, NRG Krysis--noted below in the article. He said they were really quite a fun band. The article also alludes to House of Mirth, the hipster toy store Bryan's wife owned. Nancy loves this store so much that when we were in Richmond she insisted we NOT go out of fear she would spend too much money there!!!)
I really hate having to begin the new year with such an extreme bummer, but I thought you may want to hear this, especially if you knew Bryan, as many who receive this did.
Aside from this, I wish you a great new year.
Phast Phreddie Patterson
Richmond family slain Musician, Carytown figure, daughters are killed BY JIM NOLAN AND BILL MCKELWAY TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITERS Monday, January 2, 2006
Kathryn and Bryan Harvey 1996, TIMES-DISPATCH RELATED Richmond family slain
Family contributed to the community
Family's slayings shock Woodland Heights
RELATED: Police Beat
A well-known Richmond couple and their two young daughters were found bound with their throats cut yesterday afternoon in the basement of their South Richmond home.
Richmond firefighters made the discovery about 1:45 p.m. after responding to a 911 call reporting a fire at the home of Bryan and Kathryn Harvey at 812 W. 31st St. in the Woodland Heights neighborhood.
Investigators said the family members had invited friends for a New Year's Day chili party that was to start about 2.
"Murder and arson -- for chrissake! -- in this neighborhood?" exclaimed 54-year Woodland Heights resident Stephen W. Tarrant, who lives across the street from the Harveys.
Officials said the case is being handled as a homicide and arson investigation.
Bryan Harvey was a noted musician with the band NrG Krysys and also worked in technology for the Henrico County school system. His wife was co-owner of the offbeat Carytown gift shop World of Mirth and active in the Carytown business community.
The Harveys had two children: Stella, 9, a third-grader at Fox Elementary School, and Ruby, 4, a preschooler at Second Presbyterian Church's child-care center.
As of late last night, police had not officially confirmed the identities of the victims.
The slayings shattered the serenity of a sunny and mild New Year's Day in Richmond and staggered residents of the leafy, middle-class community of young families and retirees -- a turn-of-the-century neighborhood within 10 minutes of downtown Richmond across the James River.
Officials were alerted to the scene by a local musician and fam- ily friend of the Harveys. Johnny Hott, who teamed with Bryan Harvey to form the local band House of Freaks in the 1980s and'90s, arrived with his daughter at the Harvey home about 1:40 p.m. to help set up for the party.
Hott said he walked into the house through unlocked front doors and immediately was engulfed in smoke.
"I yelled out, and no one answered, so I figured they all must be on a walk or something," said Hott, who saw no signs that the family was getting ready for the party. After checking the kitchen and seeing nothing on the stove, he ran from the home and yelled across the street for a neighbor to call 911.
Dozens of firefighters and police investigators converged on the two-story, red-brick corner home, where neighbors said the Harveys had lived for four or five years. Police Chief Rodney Monroe was at the scene, as was new Commonwealth's Attorney Michael N. Herring and two top deputies.
"It's obviously going to be a priority," Herring said.
One source close to the case said it did not appear there was extensive fire damage in the basement area, where the bodies were found.
Friends and authorities said Bryan Harvey had worked New Year's Eve, playing with his band at the Doubletree Hotel near Richmond International Airport and returning home about 2 a.m.
Friends and neighbors of the Harvey family said Stella spent New Year's Eve at a friend's house and returned home yesterday about 10 a.m., when she was greeted at the door by her mother.
"I never knew this family in any other way than as loving, wonderful people," said family friend Diane Vaccarino, one of dozens of friends who unwittingly arrived at the house anticipating a party, only to find a murder scene. Police forensics investigators and fire marshals worked into the evening yesterday trying to determine when the killings took place and when the fire was set. Homicide detectives were canvassing the area, interviewing friends, neighbors, band members and business associates of the couple in their search for clues.
Woodland Heights is more accustomed to petty vandalism and shed break-ins than murder. Neighbors and police said the last homicide occurred in 1987 with the death of Dr. Susan Hellams. Hellams, who lived several blocks away on 31st Street, was a victim of Timothy Spencer, whose killing rampage earned him the notorious nickname the South Side Strangler. Spencer was executed in 1994. Daniela Jacobs, principal of Fox Elementary School, where Stella was a third-grader, said she will pull together a crisis team to assist students and staff when school resumes tomorrow.
"We'll take all precautions needed to help [them]," said Jacobs, who lives two blocks from the Harveys.
"She was a wonderful little girl," Jacobs said of Stella. "She was a happy little girl."
Family contributed to the community BY WILL JONES, STACY HAWKINS ADAMS AND DANIEL NEMAN Monday, January 2, 2006
RELATED Richmond family slain
Family contributed to the community
Family's slayings shock Woodland Heights
Bryan Harvey worked in technology for the Henrico County school system and played in a popular soul-dance band NrG Krysys.
Kathryn Harvey was co-owner of World of Mirth, a popular retro-gift shop in Carytown. They had two children, Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4.
Bryan Harvey had performed a New Year's Eve gig at the Doubletree Hotel near Richmond International Airport. A 2003 Times-Dispatch article described the band, which specialized in soul cover tunes, as dressing like "disco superheroes."
Harvey, who played guitar and bass, was also well-known as a member of the critically acclaimed band House of Freaks.
The duo, now defunct, featured Harvey on guitar and vocals and Johnny Hott on drums. The band left Richmond for Los Angeles in 1987 and flirted with fame, releasing five albums on three labels between 1987 and 1995.
Despite being based in Los Angeles, House of Freaks relished its Virginia roots. Its songs were steeped in Southern imagery and included such titles as "Kill the Mockingbird" and "White Folk's Blood."
For its third release, 1989's "All My Friends," House of Freaks recorded at the local Flood Zone studios with local musician friends.
"I just wrote what I felt. Basically for myself," Harvey wrote to a fan on a Web site devoted to the House of Freaks. "Johnny did the same. But all along we fought the record biz and tried to do it all just for ourselves.
"We probably could have been bigger had we played the game, but I suppose we just didn't want all that crap. I'm happy we did connect with some people out there. It's nice to be remembered and appreciated. I sometimes forget that I was once a musician."
Harvey's musical credits also included The Dads and Gutterball, which combined to release three albums from 1984 and 1995. He had talked about a possible reunion show for The Dads in 2006.
Kathryn Harvey and a partner bought World of Mirth in 1993, when it was located near Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1999, the shop moved to Carytown. She co-owned the business with Jim Bland of Plan 9 Music.
She was the half sister of Steven Culp, who played Rex Van De Kamp on "Desperate Housewives."
"She's just one of the kindest, sweetest people I've ever known," said a visibly shaken Jay Leavitt, manager of Plan 9 Music in Carytown.
"She, to me, was one of those people that you become friendly with easily," said Jeff Mazursky, co-owner of Bev's Homemade Ice Cream shop in Carytown.
"[Her store] became more child-oriented when her kids came along," said Juliana Steele, manager of the Byrd Theater.
In 2001, Kathryn Harvey allowed Times-Dispatch reporter Gregory J. Gilligan to work in her store as a retail clerk during the Christmas shopping season. She worked with her then-6-month-old daughter Ruby in tow.
"You get split in so many different directions," she said. "It feels like a treadmill around here sometimes, but it is a labor of love for me."
Chuck Wrenn, a longtime friend who knew the Harveys through the Richmond music scene, expressed shock last night at news of the family's killings.
"They were just wonderful people," said Wrenn, co-owner of the former Moondance nightclub and bar. "They contributed a great deal to the community. They contributed a great deal to Richmond and through [Bryan Harvey's] music. They were just an incredibly positive influence.
"I just couldn't imagine what could have happened."
Stella was a third-grader at Fox Elementary School.
"Stella was extremely artistic. She learned best through art. She was a good student," teacher Pat Kite said. "She made friends easily with others. She was a petite girl but had a low-toned, almost sultry voice. She was just a very sweet, sweet child."
Kite said she will confer with the school's guidance counselor today to determine how to handle this situation with the 17 students remaining in her class.
"I've never had this situation before," said Kite, who has taught at Fox for 16 years. "It's going to be hard."
Ruby had been enrolled at Second Presbyterian Church's child-care center in downtown Richmond since August. The center's director, Susie Corbett, knew the Harveys and was excited to include Ruby in the program.
"Ruby had it all. She was kind. She was thoughtful. She included other children," Corbett said. "She was one of those kids as a teacher you would say, 'That's a really neat kid.' We used to call her Ruby Red because she wore red sparkly slippers."
Second Presbyterian has for years exposed children in its care to cultural celebrations from around the world, including Mexico's "Day of the Dead," through which deceased individuals and pets are remembered and honored by their loved ones.
In early November, Ruby participated in a "Day of the Dead" celebration with other 4-year-olds, Corbett said. Kathryn Harvey brought in items from World of Mirth to help.
"You build an altar, and the children bake bread," Corbett said. "All the children talked about people or pets they knew that were dead. We had candles all over the place. Kathryn helped make that possible. I know how much it meant to her that we did that."