Taylor Kelly was waiting for her boyfriend, Kelvin Ray, to come back to their Oxford Avenue duplex on Oct. 3, 2018.
He was over at a friend’s house playing video games, something he did often. Kelly began hearing sirens and helicopters and flipped on the television. That’s when she saw that someone had been shot near Fox Chase Recreation Center, only about a block from their house.
“I called him about 10 times, and he didn’t answer, and that’s not usual for him,” Kelly said. “Kelvin literally can be on a roof, and he’ll pick up.”
Ten months later, Kelly and Ray’s family are still searching for answers. The killing is unsolved, and Kelly said she hasn’t heard from the detective assigned to the case since December.
“We really don’t know what happened or why it happened,” said Kelly, who had been dating Ray for four years.
“I just want to know why this happened,” added Ray’s cousin, Siani, who did not want her last name published. “How could this happen?”
At the time, authorities said they were looking for three people — two men and a woman — who had fired at Ray from inside a silver Chevy Impala. No further information has been released, and a police department spokesman said the shooting is still under investigation.
Kelly said Ray was walking with a friend when he was killed, but the friend isn’t talking.
Siani questioned whether her cousin’s murder was getting the same attention as highly publicized cases, such as the killing of Nicholas Flacco, the 20-year-old son of a Philadelphia police inspector, in March in FDR Park. A suspect in that case was arrested days later.
“What’s taking so long?,” Siani said. “Why do we have to wait?”
Kelly and Siani said Kelvin was not involved in drugs or criminal activity. He served as a firefighter and medic for the Philadelphia Fire Department for nine years before leaving in February 2018 to pursue opening a small business, Kelly said.
Ray frequently traveled to Texas because he was helping a friend there open a gym. Shortly before the shooting, he enrolled in classes at Orleans Technical College with the goal of starting a home repair business.
He was trying to build a life in the Houston area, with the idea that his two kids, 5-year-old Kiyamah and 7-year-old Khamaj, and Kelly and her 4-year-old daughter, Taylin, could eventually move down there, Kelly said.
She said Ray had served as a father figure to her daughter since she was 4 months old.
“He was definitely the best father, and I’m not even being dramatic,” Kelly said. “There was never a time when he didn’t work and wasn’t there to support us.”
“Fatherhood was his world,” Siani added.
Kelly and Taylin have moved back into her parents’ house in Burholme. Ray’s children are living with their biological mother.
Ray was born in Korea while his father was serving in the military. He spent time with his biological mother in Texas, where he graduated high school, before returning to Philadelphia, according to Kelly. His father, Norman, is a retired firefighter and inspired Ray to join him in the department, she said.
“His dad was a strong mentor in his life,” Kelly said.
Kelly and Ray’s family hope a break in the case comes soon.
Unsolved murders are not a rarity in the city. Last year, the clearance rate for homicide cases was just 44 percent, according to WHYY. Ray’s friends and family just want to know why he was gunned down around 10 p.m. on a fall night in a quiet neighborhood.
“We just want justice, that’s all,” Kelly said. “We want answers. We need answers, and his kids deserve that much.” ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.