Dayton police officer Kevin Brame was gunned down two decades ago, and his family members and loved ones continue to search for answers and struggle to understand why his killer has never been identified and brought to justice.
Some relatives have thought about Brame every day since he was fatally shot on Nov. 1, 1999.
Brame also was front of mind for some community members this month because another Dayton police officer was fatally shot during a raid that occurred just three days after the 20-year anniversary of his unsolved murder.
Brame’s case shows how difficult it can be to recover and heal when a loved one is killed and the person responsible eludes identification, capture and prosecution.
“This was a police officer who was brutally murdered in a planned murder, premeditated murder, in a city the size of Dayton,” said his mother, Rosemary Brame.
Inside Rosemary Brame’s home, pictures are reminders of her son’s story and memory — both of which she desperately wants to keep alive.
Brame played sports in his youth and had a great sense of humor, his mother said. He graduated from Colonel White High School, served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and worked as a security guard before joining the police department.
He was described by friends as kind, well-mannered and had a zest for life.
Nov. 1, 1999, was warm for that time of year.
Brame, 31, wasn’t on duty that day and he took his then 5-year-old and 8-year-old sons shopping for video games and later grabbed dinner.
He called his mother that afternoon.
“I could hear the boys playing in the background,” Rosemary Brame said. “And I said, ‘Oh you got the boys?’ And that’s when he told me Carla had called him.”
Carla Brame was his estranged spouse and the children’s mother. Their six-year marriage had ended.
Brame picked up his sons and they went and celebrated his father’s birthday. Afterward, he returned to Carla Brame’s home on Cherry Avenue and dropped off the kids.
He was walking back to his vehicle when he was ambushed outside and hit from behind by a shotgun blast. The assailant or assailants have not been identified. No weapon has been recovered, and neighbors who heard the gunfire provided no information about who pulled the trigger.
Twenty years later, Rosemary Brame said she can’t understand why her son’s murder remains one of the region’s top unsolved mysteries.
Over the years, she has tried to keep the murder in the public’s attention by participating in annual vigils and distributing flyers asking anyone with information about her son’s murder to come forward.
The Brame family helped set up a website seeking justice for the slain officer.
For much of the last 20 years, a banner has hung outside the Dayton Police Department demanding justice for officer Brame.
The banner and ads that have run in the newspaper as recently as this month offer a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Brame’s killer.
“With any family member we want answers, we want justice,” said Dayton police Assistant Chief Matt Carper. “And Kevin Brame was a member of our family.”
Doyle Burke is a retired Dayton homicide detective and one of the first responders to Brame’s murder scene.
Throughout the investigation, Burke said, police have only received vague descriptions, like dark cars and a descriptions of a shadowy figure.
No one clearly saw a suspect, he said, and Brame never told his spouse what time he would be dropping off their kids.
“The fact that this was not a scheduled visit, you would have to randomly sit at that house for a day, unless you had some inkling that he was going to be there,” Burke said.
Burke thinks Kevin’s murder was planned.
“In a lot of cases, and this one in particular, there’s a lot of suspicion about who could’ve done it,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk about who could be involved and there are probably hundreds of suspects the detectives, including myself, have run down.”
Some leads apparently led to dead-ends.
In 2003, police searched a Trotwood home belonging to one of Carla Brame’s former co-workers, CD McCoy.
At the time, McCoy told News Center 7 that police took him downtown for questioning and accused him of having an affair with Carla and killing Kevin for $2,000. McCoy denied the claims and was not charged. He died in 2012.
Carla Brame moved to Texas with her sons.
Rosemary Brame said she knows someone out there can still help. She said it’s not too late to do the right thing and come forward.
“We’re looking for real closure, getting a conviction and putting this to rest,” she said. “This is our family member. We want this solved.”
The pain and loss Brame’s family has felt recently has been shared by some members of the Dayton community after 55-year-old Jorge Del Rio was fatally wounded during a raid of a suspected drug house.
On Nov. 4, Del Rio, a decorated and highly praised detective who worked with a DEA task force, was shot twice in the face while descending a staircase to the basement of a West Dayton home. He passed away three days later.
The suspected shooter and other members allegedly involved in the criminal conspiracy face federal criminal charges that could carry penalties up to life behind bars and the death penalty.
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