String of Slayings Shatters Richmond
Sunday, January 15, 2006
RICHMOND -- The neighborhood where Bryan and Kathryn Harvey were raising their two young daughters is an oasis of suburban serenity in the middle of a city that ranks high on lists of dangerous places.
Many of the gracious, century-old homes in Woodland Heights have backyard sandboxes and swing sets. Many residents don't lock their doors. Only last summer, a rash of toolshed break-ins was considered a crime wave.
Then, on New Year's Day, neighbors noticed smoke curling from the Harveys' two-story, red-brick house with a lime green door and called 911.
What was discovered inside was so gruesome that homicide detectives cried. All four Harveys -- Bryan, 49; Kathryn, 39; Stella, 9; and Ruby, 4 -- had been bound with tape and beaten. Their throats were slit.
It was only the beginning.
Five days later, police acting on a tip went to a working-class neighborhood a mile from the Harveys' home and found three more bodies. Like the Harveys, Ashley Baskerville, 21, her mother, Mary, 47, and stepfather, Percyell Tucker, 55, had been tied up before being slain in their home.
Police believe all seven victims were killed by two ex-convicts from Arlington County who are uncle and nephew. Ricky J. Gray and Ray J. Dandridge, both 28, were charged in the slayings. Since Gray and Dandridge were arrested Jan. 7 in Philadelphia, police have linked them to other crimes in a trail of death and violence stretching from Virginia to Pennsylvania, like a page torn from "In Cold Blood."
The men have told police they slashed the throat of an Arlington man on New Year's Eve, and police suspect they robbed a Chesterfield County couple in their home three days later. In addition, Gray is a suspect in the death of his wife of barely six months, Treva Terrell Gray, whose body was found in November in a weedy lot south of Pittsburgh.
With police and prosecutors under a gag order, much about the crimes and the suspects remains unknown. Although they have criminal convictions that date to adolescence, nothing hinted at the rampage that police say came next.
Gray and Dandridge grew up together, more like brothers than uncle and nephew. Gray, whose sister is Dandridge's mother, is eight months younger than his nephew. A decade ago, they were convicted in a string of armed robberies in which they preyed on college students and cabdrivers, snatching such small items as sunglasses, wristwatches and pocket change.
But if it is unclear how two small-time robbers might have become wanton killers, as police allege, the picture that emerges is of two young men who could not keep away from each other -- or from trouble.
'They Raised Hell Together'
"I was trying to get him started on the right track," said Ronald Wilson, Dandridge's father, who was helping his son, fresh out of prison, find run-down houses in Philadelphia to buy and renovate. "Then they got together. From back when they were kids, I always felt any time they got together, they would get in trouble. I'm not pointing any fingers. It seemed they influenced each other. They raised hell together."