UPDATE Nov. 5, 2020:
A Knox County grand jury charged Michael Anthony Gray Sr., 63; his wife, Shirley Gray, 60; and their son, Michael Anthony Gray Jr., 40, in the death of the elder couple's adopted son, Johnathan Gray, an 8-year-old whose body was found buried in the backyard of a home in Halls, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
The Grays each face two counts of felony murder, one count of abuse of a corpse, seven counts of aggravated child abuse and seven counts of aggravated child neglect. The trio allegedly abused four young children, including by feeding them a starvation diet and keeping them in cages, at the home in Halls that the Grays shared, the News Sentinel reports a detective wrote in a search warrant.
Oct. 26, 2020:
KINGSTON, Tenn. (WZTV/AP) -- A Tennessee couple pleaded not guilty Monday to dozens of charges including murder and abuse involving children they had adopted.
Michael Gray Sr., 63, and Shirley Gray, 60, were arraigned on a 42-count indictment handed down last week by a Roane County grand jury. The couple was arrested in May when witnesses called 911 to report a little boy walking alone on a county road.
The boy’s legal guardian confessed to a responding officer to burying a little girl in a barn and locking a 15-year-old boy in the basement for four years, according to warrants in the case. Two other children spent time in a wire dog cage.
Michael Gray told authorities that the girl was about 10 when she died in 2017, a few months after she was locked in the basement, and that he buried her inside a barn in the backyard, the warrants said. Investigators found her skeletal remains the day after the 911 call.
The couple is also facing a theft charge. Authorities say they didn’t report the girl’s death and kept receiving state benefits.
The Roane County case led authorities to search a Knox County property where the couple lived previously and court records show the remains of a second child were found.
In May, the two suspects were arrested on charges including especially aggravated kidnaping, child abuse, aggravated child neglect and abuse of a corpse, with further charges anticipated.