Local News

Authorities: Man admits to killing Lee County boy

Posted October 17, 2008 9:14 a.m. EDT
Updated October 17, 2008 4:58 p.m. EDT

— A man charged with killing his father last weekend has admitted to taking part in the 2004 slaying of a Lee County boy, authorities said Friday.

Kevin Lance Key, 26, of 521 Key Road in Sanford, has been charged with murder, kidnapping, felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and felony possession of stolen goods in the robbery and beating death of 11-year-old Bradley Way.

Authorities said someone broke into Way's home on JJ Lane near the Lee-Moore county line on July 12, 2004, was surprised to find the fifth-grader inside and beat him to death. His body was found inside an abandoned mobile home nearby.

Victor Gamble's fingerprints were found inside the mobile home, and investigators said he stole jewelry from the home and pawned it.

Gamble pleaded guilty two years ago to murder, kidnapping and breaking and entering in the case to avoid facing the death penalty. He is serving a life sentence in prison at Scotland County Correctional Institution without the possibility of parole.

Gamble repeatedly implicated Key in the slaying, but Key, who lives about a quarter-mile from the Way family, denied any involvement. On Monday, while being questioned about his father's death, authorities said he finally admitted to taking part in Way's death.

"He did admit to being at the residence, and removing Mr. Way's body," said Capt. Jeff Johnson of the Lee County Sheriff's Office, "but he never admitted to the actual partaking of the homicide."

On Sunday night, deputies found Key's father, Eddie Leroy Key, 54, dead inside the family's Key Road home. He had been shot in the head.

Kevin Key called 911 to report that his father had committed suicide and later told investigators that his father had put a rifle to his head and that he was unable to stop him from pulling the trigger.

When investigators pointed out that the evidence didn't match Kevin Key's story, he admitted his had killed his father in retaliation for years of abuse, authorities said.

Investigators declined to say why Kevin Key wasn't charged earlier in Way's death, saying only that they recently began taking another look at his possible role in the case.

"He always remained a suspect in the Bradley Way homicide," Johnson said.

Way's father, Chris Way, said Key's arrest is "like everything is starting over again." He said the evidence pointed to Gamble, and he said he's not upset that it's taken four years for a second arrest.

Gamble's attorney, Jonathan Silverman, said the charges against Key have no effect on his client. Silverman said Gamble never claimed he was innocent, but always blamed Key for killing Way.

"He always said Key did it," Silverman said.

Johnson said Key said Gamble killed the boy.

Under state law, both men can be charged with first-degree murder, regardless of who actually committed the crime, because Way was killed during the course of another felony – breaking and entering.

"Both are equally culpable," Silverman said.