Kevin Brame was the kind of all-American father you see in the movies.
The 31-year-old was his sons’ soccer coach – softball coach, too. He took them to museums, and also made sure they did their homework after school. Prior to having kids, Kevin had served as a member of the Air Force Reserves. He then joined the Dayton, Ohio Police Department, where he served for six years. His mom, Rosemary Brame, told Dateline that Kevin’s “ultimate goal in life was to be a good cop.”
And a good cop he was.
Kevin followed in his father’s footsteps when he became a police officer, and loved his job almost as much as he loved his sons. Kevin relished the time he was on bike patrol, and his mother said it was his favorite assignment.
“Kevin was a pretty good athlete and he loved being able to patrol on the bike and be closer to the people he encountered,” said Rosemary. “ He was concerned about the overall safety of the community, but also about the individual.”
Kevin’s life was good.
Until November 1, 1999.
It started out as an ordinary day. Kevin had a job-related court appointment, after working a late shift the night before. That’s when he received a call from his estranged wife, Carla Brame. She told him that his two sons, Antonio, 8, and Dominique, 5, wanted to see him. Rosemary told Dateline that “Kevin would never want to miss an opportunity to spend time with [his kids].”
“I had said to come around the house for dinner, but the boys wanted to go to Roosters, their favorite restaurant,” Rosemary recounts, “So they came to the house around 7:00 or 7:30 p.m.”
It was a school night, so Kevin had to return the boys to their mother’s house by 8:30 p.m. However, Rosemary, her ex-husband Gerry, their daughter Karen Brame, Kevin and his boys, were all gathered to celebrate Gerry’s birthday, and the boys did not end up leaving the party until shortly after 8:30 p.m.
The next thing that Rosemary knew, she was receiving a call from Carla at 8:59 p.m., who said Kevin had gotten shot in her yard.
He had just dropped the kids off and was walking back to his car, when he was shot in the back.
“I was shocked. I yelled, ‘What?’ He was here only a couple of minutes ago, what do you mean he’s been shot? I could have passed out,” Rosemary told Dateline.
The family drove to the crime scene, but by the time they arrived, Rosemary said “the yellow tape was up, and Kevin was dead.”
Detective Patricia Tackett of the Dayton Police Department confirmed to Dateline that on the night of the shooting, Carla’s neighbor called police at 8:54 p.m. to report gunshots; four minutes later Carla also called in to report gunshots, and that Kevin was down in the front yard.
Kevin’s mother, Rosemary, told Dateline what she believes happened that night.
“He was parked in the driveway next to Carla’s house, and someone hiding in the bushes shot him from behind with a shotgun,” she said. “He had no chance to defend himself.”
According to police, Carla has been uncooperative, has cut ties with the family and relocated to Texas.
In 2004, the Dayton Police Department created a special unit specifically to work on this case, and Det. Tackett joined the team a year later.
Dayton Police were unable to comment on specific leads, but Det. Tackett said “it does remain an open case [and they] still get calls on it all the time.”
However, not all of those calls are made with good intent.
“Sometimes people are just calling to get out of jail. They claim to have been there based on the details that have been disclosed to the media, so we have to be really, really careful,” Det. Tackett told Dateline.
The Brame family says they have a good relationship with the police, and they have “looked into every case Kevin had been on -- looking for anyone who may have been seeking revenge.”
“I cannot say every case,” said Det. Tackett, since she only joined the investigation in 2005. “But we’ve followed up on a lot of cases. We reviewed a lot of his investigations, as well as a lot of information that came in after his homicide.”
There have been no persons of interest named and no arrests made in Kevin’s case.
Rosemary and her family feel frustrated that “people will not come forward” in this case. They created JusticeForKevinBrame.com, in cooperation with the Dayton Police Department, to gather facts on the case, news articles and information about Kevin's life with the hope of justice being served.
“[Kevin] just loved life so much,” Rosemary told Dateline. “He was so positive and was ready to get on with life.”
In a diary Rosemary keeps about Kevin, she documents her interactions with people who were touched by his goodness.
“It is so wonderful to hear about the positive things that Kevin did in his short time on this earth,” she said. “He was such a good and generous soul and I miss him to the depth of my soul.”
Kevin’s younger sister, Karen,has managed to turn her heartache into activism -- art activism.
Karen had her art piece “BLUE BLOOD: JUSTICE for KEVIN BRAME” on display in Germany. In her artist’s statement, she outlines how their family’s loss has strengthened their commitment to justice and peace in the global community. Karen said, “Words cannot describe the depth of my sincerest hope that BLUE BLOOD: JUSTICE for KEVIN BRAME will be viewed to better understand the severity of a crisis that has become pandemic,” which she names as black male victims of violence.
No matter how many pieces of art are made in Kevin’s name, though, his mom Rosemary says his loss will never get easier.
“I miss everything about my son: his laughter, his smile,” Rosemary told Dateline. “His brother and sister have lost a quintessential brother. And he was so loved by his loyal friends who still come by and visit me.”
She told Dateline she does believe that the answers to her son’s unsolved murder case are closer than they may seem.
“We know people know. We know there are people here in Dayton who know,” Rosemary said. “There’s no way -- in a town the size of Dayton -- this shouldn’t have been solved long ago.”
Kevin’s father passed away in the years following his son’s death, without knowing what happened to his son that night, or bringing justice to his killer.
There is currently a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to an arrest in this case. If you have any information concerning what happened to Kevin Brame, contact the Dayton Police Department at 937-333-7109.