I'll meet you on that lonesome dark road / When the sun goes down
April 18, 2006 10:26 PM   Subscribe

On January 1st, 2006, Bryan Harvey was murdered along with his wife and two young daughters in the basement of their Virginia home. Smoke issuing from the house was spotted by Johnny Hott, Harvey's bandmate in the terrific, late-80s duo House of Freaks. The fire was apparently started by the killers in an attempt to cover up the evidence. By all accounts the Harveys were a well-liked family whose loss has left a city stunned and saddened. Bryan once remarked, "I have a lot of faith in humans. I believe we're capable of incredibly beautiful things (as well as incredibly evil)." Unfortunately the truth of that statement has become readily apparent. (more inside)
posted by ktoad (20 comments total)
I feel awful that I somehow didn't find out about this until this week. Though the men responsible won't see trial until later this year, I think I prefer to dwell less on the horror of that day and more on Harvey's great music. A tribute CD is being released as we approach what would have been Bryan's 50th birthday. And HOF's great southern rock epic, Tantilla, was recently reissued by Rhino Records and definitely deserves more attention. I'm sick and I'm sad. 'Night all.
posted by ktoad at 10:27 PM on April 18, 2006

I moved away from VA last year, before this happened, and was told about it by my mother. I used to go in World of Mirth all the time, and it definitely was depressing to hear of the events, even though I'd never met them and didn't even live there anymore.
posted by Mikey-San at 10:38 PM on April 18, 2006

"Unfortunately the truth of that statement has become readily apparent."

That said, most believers in humanity somehow don't find themselves murdered, and often live happier, more inspiring lives.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:59 PM on April 18, 2006

Yeah, sorry I got carried away with the purple prose there. I generally try not to do that on MeFi but this story really got to me.
posted by ktoad at 11:02 PM on April 18, 2006

Well, he did say that humans were capable of beautiful and evil things. And him and his wife and two girls were bound with duck-tape and had their throats slit. Kind of takes away from your smart-ass attitude when you think about it.
posted by puke & cry at 11:17 PM on April 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Christ. For a second, I thought you meant Brian Harvey!.
posted by rhymer at 1:06 AM on April 19, 2006

And HOF's great southern rock epic, Tantilla, was recently reissued by Rhino Records and definitely deserves more attention.

And there's nothing like a tragic death to boost record sales. After a life as a struggling artist, I'm betting some people are now poised to finally make out like bandits.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:57 AM on April 19, 2006

The web site for the local record store Plan 9 has more information about the tribute record (with samples of each track) here.
posted by emelenjr at 4:34 AM on April 19, 2006

This is just...so incredibly sad. I hadn't heard. I saw House of Freaks open up for Midnight Oil once, and they completely rocked the house. So intense. I was an instant fan. I have spent many nights with "Monkey on a Chain Gang" blasting through the headphones. R.I.P. Bryan and family.
posted by Otis at 5:13 AM on April 19, 2006

Those accused of murdering the Harvey family are also suspected of murdering another family in Richmond around New Years (daughter, mother, stepfather) and the wife/exwife/or girlfriend of one of the killers. I know the media always focuses on the "good looking" victims, and don't get me wrong, it is a tragedy and the death of two little girls is horrible. But there are other victims.
posted by crepeMyrtle at 6:03 AM on April 19, 2006

This is incredibly old news. I'm stunned that it's not a double? Not to diss your post but when this happened I was terribly shaken for weeks. I was hoping there was some new info or insight but at the end of the day an entire family was wiped out for no reason at all.

After just re-reading In Cold Blood before watching Capote, I have to say I was struck by the similarities in this case. Particularly the brutality of the crime leading everyone to assume personal motive in what actually was just a completely senseless, unexplainable act.

I keep my doors locked now. I didn't used to.
posted by glenwood at 6:31 AM on April 19, 2006

Christ. For a second, I thought you meant Brian Harvey!

Me too. Now that would be a tragedy. Or similar.
posted by jack_mo at 6:57 AM on April 19, 2006

what seems especially weird is that it happened sunday morning/early afternoon, and that the mom already looked "ashen" when the friend saw her at 10am. Is that meant to imply they were already in danger when the older daughter was dropped off?
posted by mdn at 7:24 AM on April 19, 2006

PeterMcDermott, sorry you failed in life, but first off these guys are dead. How could they possibly profit off sales of a long out-of-print disc? Even if they were alive, I can assure you it wasn't exactly radio-friendly music they were putting out.

It's a sad story. And a scary one. I'm also surprised it wasn't in the blue previously.
posted by bardic at 8:03 AM on April 19, 2006

The last time I saw House of Freaks, it was on that tour opening for Midnight Oil. Even in a big auditorium setting, the two of them managed to make giant sound. But leading up to that, I saw them several times in basements, house parties, and tiny clubs. I never heard a guitar make such a huge sound before or since. They could solidly shake a house and make a party go over the top. And were extra nice people all the while. I still have a demo tape from when they were shopping for a label. They shopped hard, too, for a long time. A booker at a local club turned me onto them. She kept telling me I had to listen to this tape. When I finally did, it didn't click. Recordings (especially a dubbed cassette) didn't do them justice, even with some pretty good songs. I had to finally get dragged to see them and then it more than clicked. It was a wow kind of moment.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:13 AM on April 19, 2006

Truman Capote, where are you now?
posted by dr_dank at 8:17 AM on April 19, 2006

the mom already looked "ashen" when the friend saw her at 10am. Is that meant to imply they were already in danger when the older daughter was dropped off?

Yes, that is what the police believe: "Unknown to the woman, Dandridge and Gray were in the basement, investigators said, holding the family hostage." You wonder why she didn't try harder to get the friend to summon help, but maybe she was in shock or assumed that cooperation would get them out of danger.

bardic, I think he's referring to Johnny Hott, and perhaps a producer or two.
posted by dhartung at 10:44 AM on April 19, 2006

Absolutely devastating, even now, months after the fact. I just about put it out of my mind. Still, this is the kind of tragedy you have to stare in the face.

Coincidentally, I'm the "AJ" who asked the questions nearly a decade ago in that "Ask Bryan" page that was linked. Startling to see them again, and maybe a bit embarrassing to reread words from my late teenage years.

Still, it's another testament to how awesome Bryan was -- that he'd take the time to answer questions from fans honestly and thoughtfully.

I remember one other time he emailed me out of the blue to answer a question I had posted on some web forum. What an amazingly nice guy.
posted by ajshankar at 11:59 AM on April 19, 2006

Reminds me a bit of 'Cold Blood' too. I wonder how many people like Dandridge and Gray are out there, just not caught yet.
posted by MetalDog at 3:08 PM on April 19, 2006

So no motive? Serious?

Any more background links on the crime?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:26 PM on April 19, 2006

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