Killer targeted businesses for drug money
by Robert A. Waters
On November 17, 1970, in Troutville, Virginia, a young woman was found near death in the Purity Bakery Thrift Shop where she worked. Ruby Moran, 27, had been shot twice in the head with a .38-caliber handgun. The crime took place between 5:35 and 5:50 p.m. Six hours later, Moran died at a local hospital.
Police said robbery was the motive and the take was slightly more than $200.
Investigators found a check lying on the floor of the business. Police speculated that it fell out of the cash register as the robber was taking the money. Fingerprints found on the check belonged to a sixteen-year-old thug named Beverly Ricardo Mangum. Already well-known to police in nearby Roanoke, Mangum skipped town shortly after the murder. He was arrested in New Jersey and extradited back to Virginia.
At trial, Mangum pleaded not guilty. A high school dropout, he spent most of his time playing basketball or pool with friends while his mother worked to support him. On the day of the crime, he admitted that he stopped by the bakery late in the afternoon but denied killing the clerk.
Found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison, there is no indication that Mangum ever showed any remorse for the murder. In fact, he was known to brag about his crimes.
Fast-forward to February 28, 2008. The manager of One Stop Market, a convenience store in Roanoke, was murdered during an attempted robbery. At around 4:45 p.m., Calvin Bond Watson shot Jayeshkumar Brahmbhatt as he held his hands in the air.
Watson had a partner-in-crime. He was none other than Beverly Ricardo Mangum. For two decades after his release from prison, the killer of Ruby Moran was arrested at regular intervals on drug and robbery charges. Mangum met Watson while serving one of several prison sentences.
After being released from their latest imprisonment, they hooked up again at a half-way house in Roanoke. Since both drug addicts were always in need of quick cash, they decided to team up and revert to Mangum’s old pastime of robbing convenience stores. Twenty-eight years after killing Ruby Moran, Mangum planned the One Stop Market heist and acted as the getaway driver.
In addition to that robbery, they were suspected of holding up ten other businesses in Roanoke.
Brahmbhatt initially struggled with the robber, then raised his hands in submission. Watson fired two shots into the store manager's chest, killing him instantly.
The take was exactly zero. Watson couldn't get the cash drawer open. He fled the store and ran to Mangum’s car, but the getaway driver panicked and drove away without him.
Within an hour of committing the murder, Watson was arrested. The gun he used was found in some bushes near his home. He quickly confessed to the crime, though he expressed surprise that the clerk had died. Inside the store, detectives located a surprisingly clear surveillance video. The images of the senseless murder stunned even hardened detectives.
Brahmbhatt had moved to America six years earlier to seek a better life for his wife and two daughters. They lived in an apartment until he saved up enough money to purchase a new home. The family had just moved in moved in a week before he was murdered.
An article in the Roanoke Times described the store manager’s pride in his accomplishment: “Just before Jayeshkumar Brahmbhatt was killed, the family had been getting ready for the Vastu, a Hindu ceremony to bless them and their new house on Wood Haven Road, just off Peters Creek Road near the airport.
“They'd invited more than 100 people, and Jayeshkumar was getting worried.
“Where would the out-of-town guests stay? Where would everyone sit? Would they have enough food?”
His employer and friend, Atul Patel, said that Brahmbhatt was anxious to “show what he had done in this country.”
He never got the chance.
Watson, who confessed to three other armed robberies, was tried, convicted and sentenced to three life terms plus 43 years.
Thirty years after murdering Ruby Moran, Mangum once again faced a long prison term. This time he got 30 years.