‘We Deserve Answers’| Tags: Dayton Daily News
Two detectives go full-time to solve 3 1/2-year-old slaying of Dayton police officer
Lou Grieco, Dayton Daily News
Jun. 16, 2003
DAYTON – Rosemary Brame prayed during the seven-minute drive from her home on Athens Avenue to 624 Cherry Drive, where her son Kevin had moved out weeks earlier, and where his estranged wife, Carla, still lived.
Minutes earlier, she had gotten the call: Her son, a Dayton police officer, had been ambushed outside his wife’s home. “When we got there, the yellow tape was up,” Rosemary Brame said. “The most horrible night of my life.”
Kevin was pronounced dead in the driveway, shot once from behind moments after he dropped off his children. In the 3 1/2 years since the Nov. 1, 1999, shooting, his parents have traveled from shock to grief to frustration, as Kevin unsolved homicide went cold.
The case is no longer on ice.
[pullquote_left]”We deserve answers,” Rosemary Brame said. “Kevin put his life on the line for the city for six years.”[/pullquote_left]Two Dayton detectives have been placed on special assignment to investigate the case. They are in a special office at the city’s One-Stop building. Their assignment has no time limit. Their bosses hope they’ll be on it until they solve it.
The department also has sent a packet to America’s Most Wanted, trying to get Brame’s case on the air. [highlight]The reward fund has been raised to $100,000[/highlight], though police are still collecting money for it and the actual amount is closer to $25,000.
“We want to reactivate and breathe new life in the case,” said Lt. John Huber, commander of the city’s Central Investigations Bureau. “I think the community expects us to do this. I think this has probably been overdue.”
The Brame family agrees.
“We deserve answers,” Rosemary Brame said. “Kevin put his life on the line for the city for six years.”
‘Things . . . got cold’
In the last hours of his life, Kevin Brame, 31, took his two sons, ages 5 and 8, to Rooster’s on North Main Street for wings, then stopped by his mother’s house. His parents, long divorced, have remained close friends. That Monday night, his father was in town. Gerald, who lives in Columbus, was celebrating his 59th birthday.
“It was an opportunity and a blessing from God that I did get to see him,” Gerald Brame said.
Kevin had recently rented a home on Rockwood Avenue, about 2 miles south of his estranged wife’s home. He and his mother spent the previous Saturday furnishing it.
“He was full of hopes and plans,” Rosemary said. “He was just on top of the world when he left our house.”
Brame dropped his sons off with his wife, Carla, then left. Three people, including Carla, heard a single gunshot, tapes of two 911 calls disclose.
A neighbor found Kevin Brame face-down in the driveway. He had been shot once in the neck.
Two weeks later, his family attended a police department awards ceremony, where Kevin’s sister accepted his last award, a departmental citation for helping curb criminal activity near Otterbein Avenue and Kings Mill Court.
Two months after the slaying, an attorney for Carla Brame filed lawsuits against then-police Chief Ronald Lowe and the Dayton postmaster, claiming they withheld autopsy reports and thus interfered with her attempts to obtain life insurance settlements in her husband’s death. She also sued three insurance companies that had declined to pay her insurance proceeds.
Carla Brame’s attorney, James R. Greene III, said Friday police should do everything they can to solve the case, [highlight]and should have made it a higher priority earlier[/highlight]. He said he is concerned about whether the case is solvable, and said witnesses are dying and moving away.
Carla Brame has settled with the insurers and moved to Arlington, Texas.
As months passed, the case was growing cold. Homicide detectives continued to work the case, but were also getting new assignments. Police have conducted many interviews, and collected much evidence, but have never identified a suspect, Huber said.
Typically, the first few days of a homicide investigation are critical, he said.
“You’re being steered and the information is coming in at a pretty good pace,” Huber said. That process stopped quickly in the Brame case.
“Things just kind of got cold,” he said.
Working a cold case
For Gerald and Rosemary Brame, frustration mounted as years passed without an arrest. By October 2002 they were complaining at a City Commission meeting, arguing that their son’s case was being forgotten.
Police Chief William P. McManus met briefly with them after a commission meeting, to assure them that the investigation was still a priority.
“It’s important to the family that we bring closure to the case,” McManus said in May. “A person so bold to kill a police officer, it’s important that we bring him to justice.”
Gerald Brame, who has spent his career in law enforcement, including a nine-year stint with the Dayton police department, said he does not blame the homicide/assault squad, which he called overworked.
“They still have homicides going on, and they have to investigate those, too,” he said.
The Brames are pleased with the recent re-assignments of Detectives Dan Hall and Donna Pack, who are working Kevin’s case full-time. Rosemary Brame said she has confidence in both detectives.
Hall, who has had a peripheral involvement since the investigation’s start, has specialized in long-term cases, including fraud, and is good with records and technological issues, Huber said.
“He’s very meticulous and precise in doing things,” Huber said.
[pullquote_right]”People tend to assume, and in this case, officers may have assumed we knew, and we may not have,” Huber said. “We’re not only asking the public, we’re asking our own employees. Even if people don’t think it’s relevant, it might be.”[/pullquote_right]Pack, who last worked with the fugitive squad, has not been involved in the Brame investigation and will bring fresh eyes to the case, Huber said.
Pack also has “the contacts. She still has a very active network of informants” on the street, Huber said.
Pack and Hall together have more than 50 years of police experience.
Huber said the detectives will learn from the experience, and this could be the beginning of a cold-case squad for the area.
There are some advantages to working a cold case, Huber said. Loyalties change, and new animosities arise. Drug addictions come under control. Consciences eat at people.
The detectives are starting from scratch, and they may re-interview people. “We’re looking for mistakes,” Huber said. “We may have made some.”
They are also sending word to their own people: Tell us what you know about Kevin. Huber said he is concerned that Kevin’s friends on the force could have information they did not realize was relevant, either about professional contacts on the street or conflicts in his personal life.
“People tend to assume, and in this case, officers may have assumed we knew, and we may not have,” Huber said. “We’re not only asking the public, we’re asking our own employees. Even if people don’t think it’s relevant, it might be.”
Anyone with information about Kevin’s death is asked to call Hall at 333-1192 or Pack at 333-1191. People can also e-mail information, however significant, contact the detectives. The family would like to see an arrest before Nov. 1, the fourth anniversary of Kevin’s death.
Rosemary Brame said the family asks that anyone with information, however significant, contact the detectives. The family would like to see an arrest before Nov. 1, the fourth anniversary of Kevin’s death.
“These are not people who deserve in any way to be protected,” Rosemary said. “This was not a crime of passion. This was an assassination. It was planned.”
Contact Lou Grieco at 225-2057 or lgrieco@DaytonDailyNews.com
Copyright, 2003, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.