Durham homicide is year's 24th

Man who helped hold together family, church, class was found dead in his home

Staff WriterDecember 28, 2008 

— Family members began gathering outside 1301 Shepherd St. at midnight Friday, "waiting on Trevor to walk out the door."

By 3 a.m. Saturday, about 75 relatives and loved ones stood outside the yellow house, consoling and praying with one another.

But it was forensic investigators, not Trevor Spain, who made their way past the police tape surrounding the home.

His body was found on the basement floor Friday night, the victim of an apparent homicide, police said. No arrests had been made as of Saturday evening. Investigators did not disclose how the 41-year-old was killed.

Family members think Spain was killed in a robbery, possibly by someone he knew, because there was no sign of forced entry, said Tiffany Brown, a friend who had known Spain for 20 years. Two TVs, a DVD player, a VCR and some cash were missing, she said.

Spain, who was a leasing manager for Carriage House Apartments off North Roxboro Road, is Durham's 24th homicide victim this year. The city had 30 homicides in 2007.

The home, in a quiet neighborhood just south of downtown Durham, is less than a block from where earlier this year, heavily armed officers searched for Lawrence Alvin Lovette Jr., one of two people charged with killing UNC-Chapel Hill student Eve Carson.

Spain's brother, Tony, was woken up by a phone call around midnight Friday.

"At first, I didn't believe it," said Tony, 49. "I thought they were playing just to get me over there. And when I came over here and saw the yellow tape, I saw what they were saying was true."

A family, church man

During a family fish fry at his home earlier Friday, Spain had retrieved his mother's 1957 wedding dress from a closet, said Valerie Williams, one of Spain's cousins. He also pulled out pictures of his parents' wedding and their 25th wedding anniversary.

He did it for no reason, Williams said. It was just another example of how he loved his family, she said. Spain was also president of his family reunion.

"We were just sitting about talking and laughing, and he just pulled them out," Williams said.

Spain lived with his father, who discovered his body, relatives said.

Spain grew up in Durham and was heavily involved in his church, Morehead Avenue Baptist Church, five blocks from his home. He was a trustee, sang in three choirs, taught Sunday school, was the youth adviser, and knew where everything was, Williams said. He also hung up holiday decorations and made sure the church was open for meetings.

Spain helped keep the 300-member church together when it didn't have a pastor for four years, said Rayvon Gray, 37, another cousin. Recently, a choir member who was leading a song forgot the words, and Spain whispered the lyrics in his ear, Gray said.

"There won't be a dry face in church tomorrow," he said.

Recalled as upbeat

Spain was voted best dressed and most talkative at the now-defunct Durham High School, where he graduated in 1986. He wasn't the class president but organized a class reunion alone, said Tarleashia Mack, one of his high school classmates.

Classmates said Spain was one to make light of a bad situation.

"He would be like why all these people out here and I hope downstairs isn't messed up," said Sherisa Summers, who has known Spain since the ninth grade. "When you were down and out, he would be the one to cheer you up."

stan.chambers@newsobserver.com or 919-932-2025

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