Editor’s Note: The following story contains graphic details that some may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The son of Michael Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray appeared in a Knox County courtroom for arraignment Thursday. He faces 17 charges, including felony murder and aggravated child abuse.
Michael Gray Jr. is charged alongside his parents in the death of their 8-year-old adopted son, Jonathan Dalton Gray, according to court documents.
Charges include felony murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, and abuse of a corpse.
The indictment, filed in Knox County Oct. 28, lists the three Grays on 17 of the 20 charges. The last three charges are on TennCare fraud and theft for Michael Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray.
At Gray Jr.’s arraignment Thursday, Judge Scott Green noted that all three cases should be “tracked,” with court dates that coincide.
The state described the amount of evidence as “very, very voluminous.”
What happened in Roane County?
On May 22, 2020 a passerby saw a child wandering without parents near Dryfork Valley Road. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services was called to the home by the Roane County Sheriff’s Office.
Gray Sr. told investigators there was a child’s body buried in the backyard, who he said, died in 2017. Based on recent court documents, the child was Sophie Heather Gray.
A search warrant shows, the Grays admitted to punishing their children by locking them in a small room without running water or electricity and feeding them only bread and water.
A teenage son was found locked in the basement when authorities first arrived and was taken from the basement by patrol deputies at the scene.
The Grays bought the home on Dryfork Valley Rd. the summer of 2016. The parents with their four minor children had moved into the home and within a month, Gray Sr. told investigators they confined their oldest child to the basement.
What happened in Knox County?
A second investigation of another home that belonged to the Gray’s began days after the Roane County findings. This one, in Knox County at a home on Cedarbreeze Road in Halls.
Skeletal remains of a child, no older than 8-years-old, were found. According to an October indictment, the child was a boy named Jonathan Dalton Gray.
The child’s remains found on the property, owned by Gray Jr. At this time, Gray Jr. told investigators he was unaware of any abuse within the household or by his parents. He added he did not know about the children’s deaths.
He has since been accused of making false statements to help his parents collect medical and financial benefits of the adopted children who were not alive.
What’s next in these cases?
Gray Jr. is represented by Scott Lanzon. Shirley Gray is represented by public defender Jennifer Greene.
Gray Sr. will appear in-person Friday before Judge Green in Knox County.
Gray Sr. and Shirley are charged with 42 counts each in Roane County. They are due back in Roane County in December. They are currently in custody in Knox County.
The three Grays will be in Knox County court together near the end of November.
- Child’s skeleton, 3 abandoned siblings found in Texas apartment, sheriff says
- Common ‘kissing disease’ among teens may trigger multiple sclerosis
- Baldwin was careful with guns before fatal shooting, crew member says
- Sevier County General Sessions Court canceled through Wednesday
- Check your onions again: FDA announces more recalls