When she died on May 12, 2017 in Perry, Iowa, 16-year-old Sabrina Ray weighed just 56 pounds, the average weight of an 8-year-old. According to authorities, she was severely malnourished and had starved to death.
On Friday, 63-year-old Carla Bousman (in featured image, left) was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in Ray’s death. According to the Des Moines Register, Bousman admitted that she failed to get medical help when she found Sabrina in distress on May 12. On that day, Bousman was looking after her three adoptive granddaughters, including Sabrina, while their parents, Marc and Misty Ray, left for Disney World for their biological son’s birthday. Sabrina’s body was found the same day they left.
In court, Bousman said that Sabrina had woken up ill.
“She had woke up vomiting and had soiled herself and her clothes and I just thought that she wasn’t feeling well and I gave her a shower and cleaned her all up.”
Instead of seeking medical attention for her granddaughter, Bousman said that she confined the two other girls with Sabrina as the starved teenager died. In the locked room, she restricted their access to water, food, and the restroom. Bousman also admitted that she had tried to cover up Sabrina’s death during an investigation.
According to KCCI8, after Judge Terry Rickers asked, “How could you do that to your grandchildren?” Bousman said that her daughter, Misty, and her son-in-law, Marc, had pushed her into the abuse.
Initially, Bousman had pleaded not guilty to three counts of first degree kidnapping, obstructing prosecution or defense, and child endangerment causing death. On Friday, as part of a plea agreement, she was allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges, which included two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of child endangerment, obstructing prosecution, neglect of a dependent person, and accessory after the fact.
Rickers sentenced her to 20 years in jail, the maximum possible sentence under the plea deal.
“After hearing what you had to tell the court today, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the maximum sentence in this case is the only appropriate sentence,” Rickers told Bousman, according to the Miami Herald. He also said that Bousman’s treatment of the children was “nothing but a nightmare for them.”
“Grandmothers are supposed to be special to their grandkids. Grandmas are supposed to spoil their grandkids.”
“I can’t change what is done now, but I’m very sorry. And I miss all my grandchildren all very much,” Bousman said.
Carla Bousman is the second person to plead guilty for their role in the death of Sabrina Ray. In February, 22-year-old Justin Dale Ray, Sabrina’s adoptive brother, pleaded guilty to two counts of wilful injury.
According to the Register, prosecutors said Justin Ray drop-kicked Sabrina down a basement staircase. The injuries she sustained reportedly left her unable to eat, drink, speak, and walk normally. Justin was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Marc Alan Ray, 41, and Misty Jo Ray, 40, have pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, child endangerment, and kidnapping. The couple, who ran the Rays of Sunshine Daycare in Perry, began fostering Sabrina in 2011. They adopted her in 2013.
Another family member, 21-year-old Josie Raye Bousman (in featured image, right) is facing three counts of kidnapping, obstructing prosecution, and child endangerment causing death. Josie, who allegedly helped keep Sabrina in confinement and deprived her of food and water, is set to testify against her relatives before her own trial.