Marc Ray, 41, and Misty Ray, 40, owners and operators of the Rays of Sunshine Daycare in Perry, were arrested about midday Thursday on felony charges in connection with the May 12 death of their adopted daughter, Sabrina Ray, 16.
According to the Iowa office of the State Medical Examiner, Sabrina Ray weighed 56 pounds when she was found dead in her home at 1708 First Ave. about 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Marc Ray has been charged with one count of child endangerment resulting in death, four counts of child endangerment resulting in serious injury and three counts of neglect or abandonment of a dependent person.
Misty Ray has been charged with one count of child endangerment resulting in death, four counts of child endangerment resulting in serious injury and three counts of neglect or abandonment of a dependent person.
The Rays have one biological son and one adopted son. Sabrina was the eldest of the couple’s three adopted daughters.
According to a statement released Thursday by Perry Police Department Chief Eric Vaughn, “Three additional minor children have been removed from the home and are under the supervision of the Iowa DHS.”
An ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Perry Police Department in association with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Iowa Department of Human Services.
Since the death of Sabrina Ray, several individuals have come forward with testimony about life at the Rays of Sunshine house.
Joshua Johnson, 17, formerly of Perry and now living in Moline, Ill., was in foster care with the Rays from March 2013 until April 2014. He said he shared a room with Marco Mendez during part of his time in Perry. Mendez has made statements to the media that Johnson supports.
“Everything that was said by Marco is fact,” Johnson said. “I was there to witness it.”
He said he saw Sabrina Ray and her two younger sisters “tortured” by Marc and Misty Ray.
“While I was fostered there,” Johnson said, “I witnessed numerous times Marc and Misty both torture Sabrina more than they tortured (the two younger daughters). They would force Sabrina to do their laundry, make the food and clean the house as well as be their personal servant. Misty always told me if I ever needed anything, to have Sabrina get it for me.”
Johnson said some of the torture he did not directly witness because “Misty would take them to the basement or to their rooms to do the punishment so me or Marco Mendez — the one I lived with for a short time there before he got placed back with his mom — so me or Marco never got to really see what happened to them. They would also never feed them and when they did, Sabrina would have to work for hers or watch as (the two younger daughters) scarfed down smaller portions of food. Sabrina countless times was found eating out of the garbage because she wasn’t being fed like Marc and Misty wanted me to believe.”
Johnson said Sabrina warned him not to be deceived by appearances in the family.
“Sabrina rarely ever talked to me but when she did, she’d always say things like, ‘When you leave, never come back. They’re not as they seem.’ Sabrina and (one of the younger daughters) both tried numerous times to run away. They were neglected and abused. Misty would allow their other adopted son, Jason, to beat Sabrina and (the two younger daughters), but for some reason they always picked on and tortured Sabrina more. . . . At night you could hear the sounds of Sabrina or (the two younger daughters) crying or begging for help. I only kept my mouth closed because at the time that’s all I could do. I also watched them put their hands on numerous daycare kids.”
Johnson has concluded the home of the Rays was based in deceit.
“Marc and Misty were very kind and sweet when people were around,” Johnson said, “but behind closed doors it was a different experience.”
Today Johnson lives with his grandmother in Illinois, and he says he is doing well.
“I’ve never been so healthy and safe in my life,” he said. “My grandparents have really done what my parents should’ve done.”
A former DHS caseworker familiar with the home of the Rays gave an account similar in some details to Johnson’s although the caseworker’s claims were based largely on hearsay about events not directly witnessed by the caseworker.
“To be honest, I’ve heard nothing but horror stories,” the caseworker said. “The boys have always been on a pedestal, while the girls have seriously been servants since they were adopted. They would belittle Sabrina, call her retarded, make fun of her, make her and her siblings fight for food.”
According to the caseworker, “They once threw a bag of Cheetos in the middle of the living room and let the girls fight for them like wild animals. I seriously can’t make this stuff up.”
The caseworker learned from a family member of the Rays “that they left the two sibling girls home with Sabrina,” and two adult relations “were to be watching the girls. They are claiming they went in to Sabrina’s room Friday, and she had puked. They cleaned her up and let her rest. When they came back in later to check on her, she had passed.”
The caseworker also claimed that “Marc and Misty have moved twice previously to relocate their business. I’ve never researched it but know that once they relocated due to Marc being investigated for sexual assault.”
None of the claims made by Johnson or the DHS caseworker has been independently verified by ThePerryNews.com.
Marc and Misty Ray are being held in the Dallas County Jail on $1 million bond each.