- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2006

RICHMOND (AP) — Police yesterday continued searching for clues in the slaying of a prominent local family, whose bodies were discovered in their home.

Firefighters responding Sunday afternoon to a report of a blaze at the house found the bodies of Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their two young daughters, Stella and Ruby.

Police would not comment on the condition of the bodies, but the Richmond Times-Dispatch, citing police sources, reported that the family members were discovered bound in the basement with their throats cut.

All four were pronounced dead at the scene, said police spokeswoman Cynthia Price. The bodies were sent to the medical examiner’s office for autopsies.

Police are investigating the case as a homicide and arson, Miss Price said.

Investigators said the Harveys had invited friends to the house for a New Year’s Day chili party.

A family friend who arrived with his daughter walked inside and was engulfed immediately in smoke.

“I yelled out, and no one answered, so I figured they all must be on a walk or something,” Johnny Hott said.

He then shouted for a neighbor to call 911.

According to the Times-Dispatch, a family friend said Mrs. Harvey, 39, was the half-sister of Steven Culp, who played Rex Van De Kamp on “Desperate Housewives.”

Mr. Harvey, 49, was a member of the popular local band NrG Krysys and was a former guitarist and singer for the critically acclaimed House of Freaks, which released five albums on three labels from 1987 to 1995.

Mr. Harvey and his band had played at a local hotel on New Year’s Eve and returned home at 2 a.m., friends and family said.

Nine-year-old Stella spent the night at a friend’s house and returned home at 10 a.m. Sunday, where she was greeted at the door by her mother, friends and neighbors said.

Police yesterday were trying to determine when the family was killed and what started the fire. They had not named any suspects and had no motive for the crime, Miss Price said.

Investigators also were trying to determine whether anything was stolen from the house.

“The detectives are working the case very hard,” Miss Price said. “They’ve been canvassing the neighborhood, talking to associates of the family and trying to find any possible leads.”

The crime has frightened members of the middle-class neighborhood, which hasn’t logged a homicide since 1987, when serial killer Timothy Spencer slayed Dr. Susan Hellams.

Spencer, better known as the South Side Strangler, was executed in 1994.

A crisis team was being organized to assist students at the elementary school where Stella was a third-grader, said Daniela Jacobs, principal of Fox Elementary School.

“She was a wonderful little girl,” the principal said of Stella. “She was a happy little girl.”

Stella’s 4-year-old sister, Ruby, was a preschooler at Second Presbyterian Church’s child care center.

Her mother was the co-owner of a retro gift shop.

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