Warrant: Remains recovered from Knox County house related to child abuse case

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Michael Anthony Gray Sr. Gray Shirley Ann Gray

Michael Anthony Gray Sr. Gray and his wife, Shirley Ann Gray (Roane County Jail via AP)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The remains of a child were recovered in a search of a Knox County house in connection to a gruesome Roane County case where a young girl’s remains were found.

A heavy law enforcement presence was seen in the 6000 block of Cedarbreeze Road on Saturday to search home where Michael Gray Sr, Shirley Gray and Michael Gray Jr. had all lived there together until three or four years ago.

Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray have been charged with multiple counts of child abuse and child neglect after admitting their adopted daughter was buried in the backyard of their Roane County home and that they had locked their 15-year-old son in a basement.

Neighbors of the Knox County house said they saw authorities digging a big hole and bringing something out of a shed-like cage on Saturday.

Remains believed to be one of the Grays’ adopted children were recovered in the backyard of the Knox County home, the arrest warrant said. Investigators said in the warrant the child was under the care of Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray and is believed to have died in 2015 or 2016.

According to the search warrant for the Cedarbreeze Road home, investigators determined the Grays never reported the deaths of two of their adopted children.

One of the Grays’ adopted children, who was confined in the basement of the Knox County home with limited food and no running water, told investigators of similar treatment to his brother before he became ill and disappeared from the residence, according to the warrant. He was told by his parents that his brother went to live with another family.

Gray Jr., the owner of the Knox County home, denied being aware child abuse or neglect occurred and denied to investigators being aware that one of the children had been buried in the backyard of the residence. He said he was told by Gray Sr. and Shirley Gray that the children had gone to live elsewhere because of removal by the Department of Children Services, according to the warrant.

Gray Sr. told investigators that his son was not aware of the two children’s deaths and that he and his wife had told him both children had gone to live elsewhere with different families.

A text message sent on March 25, 2020 from Gray Jr. to Gray Sr. inquiring, “Hey, do I need to put _ and on the census? I don’t know if they share info with the IRS…,” was found after a search by the Roane County Sheriff’s Office.

Gray. Jr stated to investigators his parents paid around $820 monthly to live in the basement of the Knox County with their adopted children. According to the warrant, the payments were made via online transfer until his parents and the adopted children moved to Roane County.

According to the arrest warrant, investigators believe Michael Gray Jr. was aware of child abuse and neglect at the Knox County home and claimed the two deceased children on federal income tax returns as dependents for at least the past calendar year.

This is a developing story and we’ll continue to update the details as they become available.

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