Home Daycare owners in Perry, Iowa are behind bars today after being accused of starving their own daughter to death while caring for other people’s children. Sabrina Ray was sixteen years old but weighed just fifty-six pounds when she was found dead inside of a home with two other living children but no parents present. Police reports stated that there were signs of torture and abuse on Sabrina’s body, according to KCCI.
The parents, Misty Ray, 40, and Marc Ray, 41, are listed as Sabrina’s adoptive parents and it is unknown where they were at the time Sabrina’s body was located. They run a state licensed daycare called “Little Rays of Sunshine Daycare” and parents who used their services say that they are shocked that such torture was taking place by the people in which they entrusted their own children. The Rays were also foster parents, who had been investigated by the Iowa Department of Human Services following complaints about inadequate nutrition and the use of corporal punishment. A former foster child that lived in the home, now 19 years old, says that the allegations are true. Marco Mendez says that he lived in the home with Sabrina for eight months and that she was the main subject of their abuse.
“She was really sweet. Sabrina was the main one who got beat the most. Sabrina would take the trash out. She would be so hungry that she would eat out of the garbage. Like old food. Trash (that) has probably had been there for over a week.”
He also said other children, who were also adopted by the Rays and are now under the care of a doctor, would have to sneak food by putting it in their diapers. He described these as children ten to twelve years of age.
“They would stash hot dogs in their diaper (and) Pop Tarts. Mind you, without the wrappers because if the wrapper made a noise and they got caught they’d get spanked or beaten or disciplined with no food for the next few days.”
Amanda Howard says she took her 3-year-old son to the daycare and was very happy with the care they provided. She said she considered them friends and only stopped using their services because she became a stay at home mom. Now, however, she is filled with deep regret. She said she only noticed that Sabrina was shy and quiet.
“It was fine; I never noticed anything that was bad about it. If I had been in that house, if I would have known, I would have done something. It breaks my heart. I am mad at myself. I am angry. I’ve replayed it in my head, ‘Did I miss something? Did I not catch something?’ If I would have somehow been like, ‘Hey, follow me out to the car or something,’ to get her to talk to me, maybe it would have made a difference.”
The Rays were arrested and each charged with child endangerment resulting in death and seven other child endangerment and negligence counts. They are being held in lieu of a one million dollar cash-only bail and are scheduled to make a court appearance on Monday for the first time. Court records indicated that they are being represented by public defense attorneys.
This is the second case of a foster child dying at the hands of her foster/adoptive family in Iowa in the past year. In October 2016, 16-year old Natalie Finn was also found starved to death in Des Moines. Rep. Bobby Kaufmann and Sen. Mike Breitbach, co-chairmen of the Joint Government Oversight Committee, said that immediate action needs to be taken in order to prevent another tragedy.
“…confirms the need for legislative oversight into the management of the DHS as it appears that the Finn case was not an isolated incident. The process overseeing children placed in the state system must be examined and reforms need to be considered.”
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]