Community Mourns Slaying of Virginia Family
RICHMOND, Va. – Music store manager Jay Leavitt remembers the time he was having a bad day at work until Kathryn Harvey came in, sensed his mood and silently wrapped him in a warm embrace before departing.
"It completely turned my day around," Leavitt said.
Remembering that simple act of kindness has helped Leavitt cope with his grief over the New Year's Day slayings of Harvey, his friend and business neighbor, along with her husband Bryan and their daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4.
The Harveys were found in their basement, bound with tape and their throats cut. The unsolved murders have cast a pall over Richmond, where the Harveys were well known and highly regarded, especially in music and business circles.
Bryan Harvey, 49, had been a fixture on the local rock music scene since the mid-'80s — most notably as guitarist and singer for the critically acclaimed duo House of Freaks, which released five albums on three labels from 1987 to 1995.
Kathryn Harvey, 39, co-owned World of Mirth, a quirky toy and novelty store in Carytown, a 12-block stretch of trendy boutiques, cafes and coffee shops just west of downtown. She was the half-sister of actor Steven Culp, who played Rex Van De Kamp on "Desperate Housewives."
A makeshift memorial has appeared in front of World of Mirth: bouquets of flowers, flickering candles, condolences scrawled on a large poster, sealed letters addressed in children's handwriting to Stella and Ruby. Glinting in the sunshine is a pair of ruby-red slippers; Ruby liked wearing shoes to match her name.
Friends and associates describe the Harveys as an ideal family — loving, supportive, selfless, hard working and universally well-liked.
"Everything you've heard about them is true times a million," said Betty Garrett, director of the Grace and Holy Trinity Child Care Center formerly attended by both Harvey children. "They were the most phenomenal people."
John Morand, co-owner of a Richmond recording studio and Bryan Harvey's friend for 20 years, said Harvey was the antithesis of the stereotypical rock musician.
"Music was a big part of his life, but he did other things. He was a great dad. You couldn't get a more normal suburban couple," Morand said.
There was a dark side to some of Harvey's music, but Morand said it would be a mistake to read too much into his artistry.
One song Harvey co-wrote in 1993 painted a scene disturbingly similar to the one police found at his home on Jan. 1:
"Who's that man coming, Says hey, hey, hey, hey
"Sharpens his knife, singing Hey, hey, hey, hey
"Flashes of pain, Hey, hey, hey, hey
"Heartbroken woman, Hey, hey, hey, hey
"In the basement, Hey, hey, hey, hey
"Begs him for mercy, Hey, hey, hey hey"
Police said early in the investigation that there was no evidence the song had anything to do with the crime, and Morand dismissed it as a coincidence.
"He wrote songs about the Civil War too, and he obviously wasn't in the Civil War," Morand said. "He wrote so many amazing songs."
The Harveys had invited friends for a chili party on New Year's Day.
Bandmate Johnny Hott, the first to arrive, entered the unlocked front door and was engulfed in smoke. He shouted for a neighbor to call 911, and authorities discovered a fire and the bodies in the basement.
Police said Thursday that they were working with criminal profilers from the Virginia State Police and the FBI, and that they had received dozens of calls to a tip line.
A judge issued gag order on the investigation Friday after local newspapers and television stations, citing unidentified sources, said sharp instruments and blunt objects found in the home appeared to be the murder weapons.