Editor’s Note: The following story contains graphic details that some may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After a week of multiple investigations stemming from a child abuse and neglect case that began last Friday in Roane County to new developments in Knox County today, here is a timeline of events to better explain the case.
Below is the timeline, beginning with most recent events, and linked stories of our continuing coverage of the case.
Friday, May 29
Tennessee Department of Children’s Services commissioner releases statement
“Words are inadequate. Cruelty such as this makes us question all that we know to be true. I am so grateful to the passersby who saw a child in a situation that just didn’t seem right and stopped to help. That one small action led to the discovery of children who were victims of severe abuse and neglect. Those children are now in a safe place and being cared for and their parents face significant criminal charges. I am also thankful for our DCS child protective services staff who worked together as a team, followed their instincts to dig a little further when first notified of the situation and immediately alerted law enforcement. State privacy protection laws prohibit me from providing specific details of this open case, but rest assured, we will continue to work with law enforcement and the district attorney as they continue the criminal investigation and justice is served.”Commissioner Jennifer Nichols, DCS
More skeletal remains found at second Gray home
- On Friday, authorities announced more skeletal remains believed to be that of another child adopted by the Grays had been recovered by investigators at the Cedarbreeze Road home.
- According to the search warrant, Michael Gray Sr. And Shirley Gray had a fifth adopted child while they were living in Knox County and investigators say they found a body of a child at the second Gray home.
- We now know that officers were told a second child was possibly buried on the property where Michael Gray Jr. lives.
- Neighbors said officers were at the Knox County home early Sunday morning digging on the property, and now through the search warrant, we know the investigators found the body of a child.
- We also know through the search warrant that the five adopted kids, Michael Gray Sr., Shirley Gray, Michael Gray Jr., his roommate Travis Foust and his older sister along with her three children all lived in this house at one point before 2016.
- The adoptive kids told investigators they were also confined to a small area of this home in Knox County and were given very little food.
- They also say they saw one of their brothers get sick and never returned. Michael Gray Jr. and Travis Foust claim they didn’t know about the abuse or the death of the children.
Thursday, May 28
The second Gray home investigated by KCSO
- Knox County Sheriff’s Office Investigators were at the Gray home on Cedarbreeze Road collecting more evidence believed to be connected to the Roane County child abuse, neglect and recovered child’s remains case.
- There also appeared to be upturned earth or a possible excavation site behind the home.
Wednesday, May 27
The second Gray home investigated
- Neighbors reported seeing Knox County Sheriff’s Office investigators at a Halls area home on Cedarbreeze Road in Knox County.
- The residence is that of Michael Gray, Jr. the son of Michael Gray Sr.
- Michael Gray Sr., Shirley Gray and Michael Gray Jr. had all resided at the home together some three or four years ago, according to investigators.
Tuesday, May 26
Michael Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray appear for arraignment in Roane County court
- Michael Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray were arraigned in Roane County court by video with Judge Terry Stevens presiding.
- Bond was set at $500,000 each.
- Their next court appearance in Roane County is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9.
Monday, May 25
- Investigators with the Roane County Sheriff’s Office and the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office released a statement regarding the arrest of Michael Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray. The statement was given after their investigation into the recovery of skeletal remains at the Gray home in Roane County and the unsanitary conditions of the home in which the three living children resided in. The three minors were interviewed by authorities and placed into foster care.
Saturday, May 23
- According to the arrest reports of Michael Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray, the child’s remains were recovered Saturday morning at the Gray home in Roane County.
- Michael Gray Sr. had shown sheriff’s deputies where the child’s remains were kept and buried on the property. The child, identified as a daughter, died in 2017 at the home on Dryfork Valley Road.
- Her body was initially kept in a cardboard box before a hole was dug; she was then buried in the pole barn just outside the back door of the house with the goats, chickens and pig.
- After an initial excavation of the area, a human skull and mandible were found; the Knox County Regional Forensic Center sent a team to complete the excavation.
- The children in the home had been only given “small amounts of food, white bread and some water,” and would withhold food as a means of punishment according to the report.
- The conditions of the home were “unsanitary,” according to the search warrant; a concrete room was built beneath a set of stairs to use as a “punishment space.” The room, measuring “2.9 by 3.8 feet in size,” contained only a bucket for defecation along with magazine pages used for wiping. Investigators found human feces and urine in the space, which had most recently been used to punish two of the children.
- The house was filled with a urine smell, the warrant states, with feces throughout the house and a partially flooded basement that had human and animal feces throughout the area. There was feces on the walls, no running water and open wires as well. There was also old trash and a flooded part of the basement smelled of mold.
Friday, May 22
The investigation begins at first Gray home in Roane County
- According to the arrest report of Michael Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray, the investigation began after the Roane County Sheriff’s Office was called to a home on Salem Valley Road around 3:20 p.m. on the call that “someone dropped a little boy off and he doesn’t know where … his parents are or where he’s at.”
- Deputies made contact with the child and determined who he was and that he resided at the Gray home on Dryfork Valley Road. The deputies took him there and called the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services to the home.
- When deputies arrived at the Gray residence, the parents, Michael Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray, were not aware that the child had been out of the residence.
- The Grays had moved into the Roane County home in June 2016 with four minor children.
- Michael Gray Sr went with DCS to its Kingston office — where he told them there was a 15-year-old child in the basement of the home and that another child had been buried in the backyard of the Dryfork Valley Road.
- Around 9:30 p.m., Roane County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies responded to the Gray residence, where they made contact with the 15-year-old in the basement of the home and helped him exit.
- Michael Gray Sr. returned with DCS and Roane County deputies to the home and consented to a search of the home; walking them through the residence to show where his living children stayed and where the other child had been buried.
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