Man charged in case involving slain, abused adopted children

A Tennessee man has been charged with murder and abuse involving children his parents adopted

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A Tennessee man has been charged with murder and abuse involving children his parents adopted — just days after his parents pleaded not guilty to similar charges, according to a published report.

A Knox County grand jury handed down charges Wednesday against Michael Anthony Gray Jr., 40, that included felony murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect and abuse of a corpse, WBIR-TV reported. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Michael Gray Jr. has an attorney.

Gray was charged with murder after investigators found a boy's remains buried in the yard of a home where he lived with his parents and several adopted siblings. Gray's parents have been charged with murder in the death of a girl whose remains were found on property owned by the family in Roane County. The Roane County case led authorities to search the Knox County property.

Michael Gray Sr., 63, and Shirley Gray, 60, pleaded not guilty Monday in Roane County to the murder charge and dozens of other crimes, including abuse.

Authorities began investigating the family in May after a little boy was spotted walking alone along a Roane County road. Arrest warrants state that a passersby called 911, and a responding officer began asking questions. Investigators quickly discovered a girl's skeletal remains in a barn at the Roane County property, after which Michael Gray Sr. confessed to burying her there. She had been locked in the basement for a few months before her death in 2017, while a 15-year-old boy was locked in the basement for four years, according to the warrants.

Michael Gray Sr. told authorities that the girl was about 10 when she died. Two other children spent time in a wire dog cage, while all were supposedly home-schooled and appeared to be “stunted in growth,” according to the warrants. The state Department of Children’s Services removed three children, ages 11 to 15, from the home on the day the couple were arrested.

The elder Grays are also facing a theft charge. Authorities say they didn’t report the girl’s death and kept receiving state benefits for being her adoptive parents.