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East Tenn. couple pleads not guilty after child’s body found buried at Roane Co. home

Michael Gray, Sr. and Shirley Gray will appear in court at 9 a.m. Monday.
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 7:39 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - An East Tennessee couple who were indicted on murder and kidnapping charges after a child’s body was found buried at Roane Co. home were arraigned Monday morning.

Michael Gray, Sr. and Shirley Gray both pleaded not guilty on all charges. The two are set to appear in court again on Dec. 18.

LIVE: Roane Co. couple facing a judge on 42 charges after child’s body found buried at their home https://bit.ly/2HrY2sc

Posted by WVLT on Monday, October 26, 2020

Last week, a grand jury in Roane County returned a 42-count indictment that includes charges of murder against the couple accused in the deaths of two of their adopted children, according to a release from the Office of District Attorney General Russell Johnson.

Michael Gray, Sr. and Shirley Gray were indicted after the bodies of two adopted children were found on two different properties connected to the Grays over the summer.

Michael and Shirley Gray were both indicted on:

  • 4 counts of felony murder
  • 8 counts of aggravated child abuse
  • 8 counts of aggravated child neglect
  • 9 counts of aggravated kidnapping
  • 6 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping
  • 5 counts of falsification of educational or academic records
  • 1 count of theft of property
  • 1 count of abuse of a corpse

These indictments are connected to the body of a child found at the Gray’s home in Roane County and the alleged abuse and neglect for two of the other three children the Grays adopted.

An investigation into the couple began May 22 when the Roane County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call stating someone dropped off a boy who said he didn’t know where his parents were or where he was.

Deputies then took the child to his home and contacted the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Roane County officials said the parents, Michael Anthony and Shirley, were not aware the child had left the home. The child was taken to the DCS office in Kingston where he told investigators there was another child, around 15-years-old, in the basement, and another deceased child buried in the backyard. Investigators said Michael Gray admitted that his 11-year-old daughter died in 2017 and was buried in the backyard. Officials said she was confined to the basement as punishment for stealing food and within months, passed away. According to court documents, the abuse occurred from June 2016 to May 2020.

Shortly after the girl’s remains were discovered, the remains of another child were discovered at a property in Knox County linked to the Grays. At the time of the body’s discovery, the home belonged to the Grays' son, Michael Anthony Jr., whom investigators believe knew about the abuse the children faced. The indictments in this case are not connected to this case. According to the release, there is still an ongoing investigation by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Both of the suspects are being held at the Roane County Jail, where they have been since May, under $1.5 million-dollar bonds.

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