KINGSTON, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee couple pleaded not guilty Monday to dozens of charges including murder and abuse involving children they had adopted.
Michael Gray Sr., 63, and Shirley Gray, 60, were arraigned on the 42-count indictment handed down last week by a Roane County grand jury, news outlets reported.
The charges involve the death of a girl, whose remains were found on the property, and other children the couple had adopted.
The couple was arrested in May after a little boy was spotted walking alone along a Roane County road.
Arrest warrants say passersby called 911, and a responding officer began asking questions. The boy’s legal guardian soon confessed, the warrants said, to burying the remains of a little girl in a barn and locking a 15-year-old boy in the basement for four years.
Two other children spent time in a wire dog cage, while all were supposedly homeschooled and appeared to be “stunted in growth,” according to the warrants.
Michael Gray told authorities that the girl was about 10 when she died in 2017, a few months after she was locked in the basement, and that he buried her inside a barn in the backyard, the warrants said. Investigators found her skeletal remains the day after the 911 call.
The couple is also facing a theft charge. Authorities say they didn’t report the girl’s death and kept receiving state benefits.
The Roane County case led authorities to search a Knox County property where the couple lived previously and court records show the remains of a second child were found.
The Knox County case is still under investigation and no charges have been filed, news outlets reported.
The Grays are due in court again in December.
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