Michael and Shirley Gray Roane County, Tennessee couple charged after 10 year old daughter’s remains discovered buried in back yard. 3 other children found at residence.
A Tennessee couple have been charged after the skeletal remains of a young girl were discovered buried in their back yard, according to multiple reports.
The skeletal remains are believed to belong to their daughter, who authorities say was around 10 years old when she died. Michael Gray allegedly admitted to the state Department of Children’s Services that he had buried the girl after she died in 2017, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Her remains were found on Saturday. The manner and cause of death was unclear. An autopsy has been planned.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating and have reported new details from the couple’s home in Roane County. Authorities said there were three more children in the couple’s possession and that they were not the parents, 10 News reported.
Surviving children subjected to horrors
The couple is accused of holding one of the surviving children — a 15-year-old — locked inside the unfinished basement of their family home for many years, arrest warrants said. Authorities said they discovered the teenager in the partially flooded basement without running water and surrounded by human and animal feces.
‘[The child] was confined to the unfinished basement since this date and had no contact with anyone outside the basement, only given small amounts of food, being white bread and some water,’ the warrants said, according to 10 News.
Roane County authorities originally responded on Friday after someone found one of the children walking alone along a road near their home, 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson said in a press statement.
The three surviving children, aged 11 to 15, were removed from the couple’s custody by the state Department of Children’s Services, Johnson said. All four children are not the couple’s biological children, but the couple had legal custody of them, he said.
‘(Two of the children) appear to have no formal education,’ the warrants said, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, ‘and were, in fact, amazed by what a refrigerator does when they observed one in their foster home.’
They appeared to be ‘stunted in growth,’ the warrants added.
The family, believed to be from the area near Meridian, Mississippi, has lived in the home since June 2016, Johnson said.
The Roane County couple was charged with aggravated child abuse, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated child neglect, and abuse of a corpse, the statement said.
Within a month of moving into the house, the oldest child was locked in the basement as punishment for stealing food from the pantry and the refrigerator.
Two other children periodically were confined inside a wire dog cage in the basement until the Grays constructed a small, concrete room — measuring approximately three feet by four feet — under the stairs for confinement.
The girl also had been locked in the basement in early 2017 as punishment for stealing food, and given only bread and water. She died within a few months, the warrants state. The Grays kept her body in a cardboard box until a grave could be dug.
The Grays remained in custody.