DAYTON — It’s been 20 years since Dayton Police Officer Kevin Brame was ambushed, shot and killed while he was off duty, dropping his sons off at his estranged wife’s home.
Despite his family’s two-decade search for answers, his killer has never been brought to justice.
Inside his mother’s home, pictures share the story of Brame, one she is desperate to keep alive.
“Kevin was my first son,” Rosemary Brame told News Center 7’s Kayla Courvell. “[He] played sports all through his young life. He had a great sense of humor.”
Though 20 years have passed, Rosemary is just as desperate to understand why her son’s murder is still a mystery.
It was a warmer than average day on Nov. 1, 1999.
Kevin called his mom that afternoon.
“I could hear the boys playing in the background,” Rosemary said. “And I said, ‘Oh you got the boys?’ And that’s when he told me Carla had called him.”
By that fall day, Carla and Kevin’s six-year marriage had faded.
The separation was compounded by a complicated custody agreement involving their two sons.
“He got the boys unexpectedly,” Rosemary said. “And he got a message from Carla that the boys wanted to see him. And his visits with the boys had been hard he last few weeks.”
Headed to celebrate his dad’s birthday, Kevin picked his boys up from Carla’s Cherry Avenue home.
After dinner, Rosemary remembered talking to her son his as he rushed to get the boys back to their mother.
“Kevin told the boys ‘We gotta get moving. It’s a school night. Gotta get home,’” she said.
It was the last time she talked to her son.
Thirty minutes later, Rosemary got a call from Carla, telling her that Kevin had been shot.
“I bet it didn’t take us more than three minutes to get there,” Rosemary said. “The yellow tapes were already up. I collapsed.”
For most of the last 20 years, a banner outside the Dayton Police Department demanding justice for Officer Brame.
That commitment remains to this day according to the assistant chief.
“With any family member we want answers; we want justice,” said 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 Kevin’s murder.
“In a lot of cases, and this one in particular, there’s a lot of suspicion about who could’ve done with,” 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.”
Throughout the investigation police have only received vague descriptions, like dark cars and a shadowy killer’s figure.
No one clearly saw a suspect. And Kevin never told Carla exactly when he’d be dropping of their kids.
“The fact that this was not a scheduled visit, you would have to randomly sit at that house for day, unless you had some inkling that he was going to be there,” Burke said.
He thinks Kevin’s murder was planned.
In 2003, police searched a Trotwood home belonging to one of Carla’s former coworkers, CD McCoy, who died in 2012.
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 never charged.
All police know is that the killer approached the six-year Dayton police veteran from behind in his estranged wife’s front yard.
Carla and their two sons — 5 and 8 years old at the time — were the only people there.
“In any case like this, it leads close to home,” Burke said. “And by that I mean friends, acquaintances, a large group of people.”
Police have previously said Carla has not been as cooperative as they’d like.
After moving to Texas, she returned to Dayton in December 1999 to be questioned.
During a news conference, she said she did not know who killed Officer Brame.
But when News Center 7’s I-Team reached out to her to ask our own questions, she hung up the phone.
Still searching for answers, Rosemary said she knows someone can still help.
“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.”
Cold case Det. Patricia Thackett told the I-Team that she cannot release any information on the case.