Death of off-duty officer is unsolved; prayer vigil set for 6 p.m. at Courthouse Square; Mother, widow at odds about visits with kids

Marcus Franklin, Dayton Daily News
Nov. 1, 2000

DAYTON – One year ago today, Dayton police Officer Kevin Brame was shot down on his father’s birthday.

Hours before his killer fired a bullet into his neck, Brame had collected his two young sons from his estranged wife’s Cherry Drive home, Carla Brame later told a lie detector expert. Brame and his boys had visited his mother’s house, witnesses said. Afterward, a friend said, the off-duty officer chatted with a friend outside as his sons played. Because of marital problems, Brame, 31, had been living with his mother for at least the last three weeks of his life.

After dropping the boys back on Cherry Drive and setting up new video games for them, Brame left about 9 p.m., Carla Brame said. As Mrs. Brame prepared to tuck her boys, aged 8 and 5, into bed, Brame said he would call after he got back to his mother’s house, Carla Brame said.

The phone never rang. Instead, gunfire broke the bedtime silence.

According Carla Brame’s account, she “heard a noise that she later learned was the shot” that killed Brame. The six-year veteran never made it into his car. His life ended face-down on the asphalt driveway.

Police, who have questioned Mrs. Brame, have not identified a suspect in her husband’s slaying. She passed a lie detector test conducted by a polygrapher hired by her and her attorney, according to court records. One year later, his slaying remains unsolved and relations between the Brame family and the officer’s widow have cooled.

The community hasn’t forgotten the officer’s killing: A prayer vigil will be held at 6 p.m. today on Courthouse Square.

“The grief is even more unbearable when the person who committed the crime (has) not been apprehended and convicted,” said Yvonne Sherrer, organizer of the vigil and a close friend of the Brame family. “There can be no healing for Kevin’s family and friends until they know who perpetrated this terrible crime,” said Sherrer, the wife of Dayton police Lt. David Sherrer.

The Brame family declined comment for this article, as did Carla Brame through her attorney, James R. Greene III.

As police investigate and the community expresses its grief, relations remain frosty between Officer Brame’s parents and his widow.

In January, two months after her son’s death, Rosemary Brame sued her daughter-in-law, Carla , in Montgomery County Common Pleas Cour t. She sought court-ordered visitation with her only grandchildren, the boys now 6 and 9.

Visits with the boys diminished “considerably” after her son’s death, the grandmother testified in a February hearing before Juvenile Court Judge Nick Kuntz. Eventually, she said, the visits became “restricted.”

“I would like to maintain the kind of relationship we had when their father was living,” Rosemary Brame testified. “It was a close relationship and the boys loved me and I love them.

“Kevin would have wanted us to be close.”

But Carla Brame told the judge she kept her children away from their grandmother’s house because she believed family members were saying unkind things about her within earshot of the children. Brame also didn’t want her sons to come in contact with a woman who she said visited Rosemary Brame’s house and with whom the wife believed her husband had been involved romantically, according to court records.

“At the funeral I felt like such an outcast,” Carla Brame said at the hearing.

Kuntz allowed the grandmother to visit the boys monthly in Texas, where Carla Brame, a Delphi employee, had moved to take a job with General Motors in Arlington. Greene, Carla’s attorney, appealed the decision. At Greene’s advice, Carla Brame hired a Texas attorney seeking jurisdiction there, he said. The case is pending.

Following her husband’s slaying, Mrs. Brame sued three insurance companies, claiming they refused to process claims on her husband’s life insurance. She also sued the Dayton Police Department, claiming it interfered with the insurance companies’ ability to obtain toxicology and autopsy reports needed to process the claims.

The insurance companies began paying Brame in February, Greene said.

Greene also claimed police insensitively questioned his client.

In the lie-detector test Carla Brame took in February, she said she didn’t “murder Kevin,” nor did she “scheme with anyone to have Kevin murdered.” Brame said she didn’t “know for sure who murdered Kevin.”

“It is my opinion she is being truthful,” polygrapher J.D. Caudill wrote in a letter presented during a deposition to detectives investigating Brame’s slaying.

The personnel file of Officer Brame, who was the son of retired Dayton detective Gerald Brame, contains commendations and discipline. He twice drew praise for helping to arrest car theft suspects and once for working with a team of officers to eliminate drugs and violence in a Dayton neighborhood.

Last year, he received three reprimands and a 45-day suspension for making a traffic stop. He stopped one of his wife’s co-workers outside his jurisdiction for “personal reasons.”

Even while off-duty, Brame always carried his service weapon and remained alert to potential danger, said Trischelle Estelle, 33, a life-long friend who grew up across the street from the Brame family home. The two “were like brother and sister,” she said. “I remember we were standing outside (after he became a police officer) and we heard gunshots and he released his safety just in case,” recalled Estelle. “It was definitely a cautious attitude.”

Estelle said she had chatted with Brame outside their parents’ homes hours before he was shot to death.

“We were watching his boys play,” she recalled. “We always joked about how much we looked like our parents. “I hope the killer is caught because this is really devastating the family.”

Contact Marcus Franklin at 225-2274 or e-mail him at

Copyright, 2000, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.