Andrew Ray Murder – Ray, a 41-year-old father of four and a retired military man, worked as a manager at Hardees to help pay for his children’s college educations. During a heist, he was forced to kneel before being shot in the head. Essa Winston Davidson and Melvin Jay Hardy, the two teenagers charged with Ray’s 1997 murder, had strangled Kedrin Bradley to death in 1995, but Howerton ordered them both released on a $50,000 bond each.
On March 19, 1997, Andrew Ray, an assistant manager at a Hardee’s restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, was discovered shot to death. While the murder appeared to be a heist gone bad, investigators soon discovered that one of the accomplices remained at the site even after first responders arrived.
‘I Am Homicide: A Promise Kept,’ a documentary on Investigation Discovery, follows the terrible murder and demonstrates how the investigation finally brought the murderer to justice. If you’re intrigued by this case and want to know where the killer is right now, we’ve got you covered.
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What Caused Andrew Ray’s Death?
Andrew was commended by his coworkers and loved ones for being a generous, kind-hearted, and helpful person. He was an exceptionally hard worker who worked as an assistant manager at a Hardee’s restaurant near Charlotte’s Cotswold Mall. Andrew was likewise well-liked in the community, and his premature death is still regretted to this day.
A bunch of criminals burst into Andrew’s business at 9:45 p.m. on March 19, 1997, and held him at gunpoint. Before shooting him at point-blank range with the shotgun, one of the intruders forced him to open the money safe. The burglars got off with the cash, and Andrew’s wife, Elichia Ray, returned to the institution shortly after to hunt for her husband. Martin Green, the restaurant’s general manager, entered the building when Andrew was nowhere to be found, only to discover the victim’s death.
The cops were dispatched right away, and first responders pronounced Andrew dead on the spot. An autopsy later revealed that, despite being shot at point-blank range, the victim died as a result of blood loss and brain damage caused by the gunshot wound. Furthermore, a detailed study of the crime scene revealed that it was a robbery, and officials realised they needed to act immediately to apprehend the offenders.
Who Killed Andrew Ray and Why?
Essa Davidson, one of the conspirators, thought he had messed up the bus schedule and opted to wait in the nearby grocery store just after the crime. From his vantage point, Essa observed the first responders arrive on the site and even heard Elichia Ray cry after hearing the devastating news. The grocery store guard didn’t pay Essa much attention, but he noted he was carrying a blue duffle bag that he never let out of his sight.
When the guard was summoned by the police for questioning, Essa decided to leave and began walking away from the area. Meanwhile, the guard described how Essa entered the store shortly after the gunfire and even mentioned the duffel bag he was carrying.
Authorities had a hunch after hearing the guard’s statement, and they went after Essa right away. The guy was found strolling down the street, but the duffel bag had vanished. Essa, on the other hand, broke down when questioned and led investigators to the duffel bag. He even admitted to the crime and named his co-conspirators, including Melvin James Hardy Jr., who was the one who pulled the trigger.
The police discovered a shotgun inside the duffel bag, which was proven to be the one used in the murder based on ballistic reports. Essa, on the other hand, appeared to be eager to work with the authorities. He described how Melvin was found standing over Andrew with the shotgun in his hand, alone in the room with the victim at the time of the murder. Officers wasted no time arresting Melvin and charged him with Andrew’s death since they had solid evidence against him.
What Happened to Melvin James Hardy Jr. and Where is He Now?
Melvin had already been charged with the 1995 murder of Kedrin Bradley and was awaiting trial at the time of Andrew’s death. Melvin was found guilty of killing Kedrin and sentenced to life in prison on June 11, 1998. Melvin was eventually brought to trial for Andrew’s death in 2000, and the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon.
He was condemned to death for the murder this time, with an additional jail sentence of 146 to 185 months for the second charge. Melvin remains confined at the Roanoke River Correctional Institution in Halifax County, North Carolina, because parole is not an option.