Bryan Harvey PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 19:55

Bryan Harvey

Born: April 27, 1956, Richmond, Virginia

Died: January 1, 2006, Richmond, Virginia

Age: 49

Cause of death: Blunt-force trauma to the head.

Notable because: Tragic brutal death with his entire family by the Ricky Javon Gray and Ray Joseph Dandridge


Bryan Harvey was an American musician noted for his fronting role in House of Freaks. He was murdered with his wife Kathryn and his two daughters Stella (9) and Ruby (4) on January 1, 2006.

In the early afternoon of January 1, 2006, Kathryn, Bryan, Stella, and Ruby Harvey, a family of four, were found beaten, slashed and bound with electrical cord and tape in the basement of their burning house in the Woodland Heights district of Richmond, Virginia.

Kathryn Harvey, 39, was the co-owner of a popular local toy shop called "World of Mirth" in the Carytown district of Richmond, and the half-sister of actor Steven Culp. Bryan Harvey, 49, was an indie musician of note, a former member of House of Freaks, a two-man college rock band in Richmond. Their daughters Stella and Ruby were 9 and 4, respectively. Bryan and Kathryn died of blunt-force trauma to the head, Stella of smoke inhalation and blunt-force trauma to the head, and Ruby of stab wounds to her back, one of which punctured her lung.

Harvey first gained attention in the early 1980s as singer-guitarist in a power pop band based out of Richmond, Virginia called The Dads. Popular at East Coast colleges, the band reached the pinnacle of its success in 1984 with the release, on CBS records, of its self-titled album.

Harvey's subsequent musical career included long-time participation in the indie supergroup Gutterball, which featured former Dream Syndicate frontman Steve Wynn. Harvey's most enduring project, however, was House of Freaks, a two-man band with Richmond percussionist Johnny Hott, who had a penchant for banging on anything he could drag into the studio that made the noise he wanted.

House of Freaks was signed to Rhino Records for their first three albums, but had trouble finding a permanent home towards the end of the band's existence, bouncing around from indie to indie. They played with other groups on occasion, most notably on a couple of tracks with the Norfolk band Waxing Poetics (whose first album was produced by REM's Mike Mills). Their debt to the blues was evident from their first album, but they later moved more and more towards the stripped down style of rockabilly bands like the Chickasaw Mudpuppies and the Flat Duo Jets. However, they were closer in spirit to artists like Tom Waits or Lyle Lovett, exploring in particular the blessing/curse of family and community and their effects on the individual.


House of Freaks called it quits in 1995. Both members were involved with the making of the most recent Gutterball outing, but the rumors say that Hott has left that group as well and been replaced by the drummer for The dB's. Bryan Harvey completed a solo album in early 1997, which remains unreleased. Gutterball is still considered to be an open project by the people involved; however, no firm plans have been made about recording new material.

It was former bandmate-friend Hott who approached the Harvey home in South Richmond in anticipation of a New Year's Day party and discovered that the house was on fire. Authorities subsequently found the four family members slain in the basement.

In early 2006, a compilation album of Harvey's music, Remember Me Well, was released.

Bryan Harvey was found dead with his wife and two young daughters in the basement of the family's Richmond, Virginia, home.

Harvey, 49, and his family were discovered after Johnny Hott, formerly the drummer for the defunct band, arrived to attend a New Year's Day party and discovered the house was on fire. Firefighters called to the scene discovered the bodies. Local news outlets reported that the victims' throats had been cut and their bodies bound.

Two men, 28, were charged with the New Year's Day slayings of Bryan Harvey, singer/guitarist for the Eighties blues-based rock duo House of Freaks, as well as his wife and two young daughters. Ray J. Dandridge and Ricky Gray, who were arrested  in Philadelphia for the Richmond, Virginia, killings, are also charged with the January 9th murder of another area family.

While Gray had until recently been a telemarketer for a Pittsburgh police association, Dandridge was released from a Richmond correctional facility in November after serving ten years for robbery. Police believe that robbery was the motive for last Friday's murders, and may have been the motive for the January 1st killings. The men may also have been involved in another nearby robbery, in the Chesterfield County suburb.

On February 9, 2006, Ricky Javon Gray was charged with five counts of capital murder in the Harvey killings: one charge for killing more than once in a three-year period, one charge for committing more than one killing in a single act, one charge for killing in commission of a robbery, and two charges for killing a child under 14 years of age. On the same day, Ray Joseph Dandridge was charged with three counts of capital murder in the Tucker-Baskerville killings. Gray pleaded not guilty, and his defense team sought leniency by presenting evidence of physical and sexual abuse during childhood as well as PCP use during the commission of the crimes.

On the morning of January 7, 2006, Ricky Gray and Ray Dandridge were arrested in Philadelphia, where Dandridge's father Ronald Wilson lived. Approximately one hour after the arrest, Dandridge confessed to killing the Tuckers and Ashley Baskerville. Twelve hours after the arrest, Gray asked to speak with a detective, then proceeded to provide a detailed, 3-page confession in which he described using a kitchen knife and claw hammer to kill the Harveys, stating "I don't believe sorry is strong enough. None of this was necessary." In subsequent confessions, he admitted to beating his wife Treva to death while Dandridge held her down, to being an accomplice in the Tucker-Baskerville murders, and to the attack on Ryan Carey.

On January 8, 2006, the police formally identified Ashley Baskerville as a participant in the Harvey murders, the Chesterfield robbery and the robbery at her own home as a result of the above confessions as well as eyewitness testimony and other evidence. Baskerville had acted as the lookout in the parked car while Gray and Dandridge entered the Harvey home, and was found wearing Bryan Harvey's wedding band. Gray and Dandridge testified that she had posed as a victim and allowed herself to be bound as a part of the plan to rob her mother and stepfather, "but "things just went wrong" and "(Gray) got tired of the girl, so he decided to kill her and take her parents' car."


  • August 17, 2006: A jury finds Gray guilty on five capital murder charges after four days of trial and 30 minutes of deliberation.
  • August 22, 2006: The jury recommends the death penalty for the murders of Stella and Ruby Harvey and life in prison for the three remaining charges after 12 1/2 hours of deliberation.
  • September 19, 2006: Dandridge pleads guilty to three counts of capital murder as a part of an agreement to serve life in prison without parole for the deaths of the Tucker-Baskerville family.
  • October 23, 2006: The judge sentences Gray to death.
  • December 19, 2006: Culpeper County indicts Gray for the murder of Sheryl Warner.
  • January 9, 2007: Gray pleads not guilty to the murder of Sheryl Warner. A trial is scheduled for July 30.
  • July 18, 2007: Ricky Jovan Gray pleads not guilty to Warner murder.

Currently Ricky Javon Gray is looking for friends.

Gray, awaiting execution for murdering the Harvey family in the basement of their Richmond home on New Year's Day 2006, has had his contact information posted on a Web site soliciting potential pen pals.

"I like to read. I play chess I'm into sports, but I'm reduced to just watching them on TV now," Gray tells potential correspondents on a site provided by Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

The group has posted profiles from several death-row inmates interested in corresponding with people on the outside.

"Everyone enjoys being remembered at special times of the year," the group said. "Even if you are not interested in pursuing a pen-pal relationship, we hope you'll consider sending a greeting card to any of those on either of Virginia's Death Rows or to the men on Federal Death Row for crimes committed in Virginia."

The group posts the address for Gray, who is being housed at the Sussex I State Prison in Waverly after being convicted of killing Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their daughters, Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4. Authorities said Gray admitted slashing the throats of all four victims in their Woodland Heights home.

Gray has been convicted on five counts of capital murder and faces two death sentences -- for killing the two girls.

Gray and his nephew, Ray Joseph Dandridge, were accused of taking part in the Harvey murders and in the Jan. 6, 2006, murders of Mary Tucker, her husband, Percyell Tucker, and Mary Tucker's daughter, Ashley Baskerville, also in South Richmond.

Coincidentally, Baskerville, who police say had served as a lookout during the Harvey slayings, had met Dandridge through a Web site for prison pen pals. "I'm an open minded and very romantic and understanding person," Dandridge said in his posting. "I believe in treating others as I want to be treated and respected in life."

Dandridge pleaded guilty to capital murder, with a plea-agreement sentence of life with no release.

Gray is one of nine inmates with profiles on the group's site.

"The men and women who have placed their information on the site are simply letting us know that they are receptive to the idea of making new friends," the group's site says. "Who they write, when they write, and what they write is up to them."

According to the Web site, it was founded in 1991 by 13 people who opposed the death penalty. It was originally called Virginians Against State Killing and changed its name a year later.

Gray, now 31, tells potential pen pals he is particularly interested in religion, politics and books.

When asked what qualities he would like to find in a pen pal, Gray, whom authorities believe was responsible for nine deaths over a three-month period, wrote:

"Someone you can call a true friend."

Last Updated on Friday, 22 June 2012 08:02

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