Mom accused in murder on suicide watch
Austin L. Miller
OCALA – Violet Love Ray, the Belleview woman accused of murdering her 2-year-old adopted daughter, was placed on suicide watch at the Marion County Jail following her arrest Tuesday.
Lead Detective Rhonda Stroup said Ray was placed on suicide watch as a precaution because she was despondent when she was arrested following a court hearing for termination of paternal rights at the Marion County Courthouse. Stroup said a family member also mentioned something about depression.
The 35-year-old mother of six adopted children had been indicted on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and child neglect in connection with the death in December of Faith J. Ray.
Before Ray's first appearance in front of Judge Steven Rodgers via video link at the Marion County Jail, the Ray could be seen chatting, smiling and sharing a laugh with fellow inmates.
Her hearing began at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, and Ray was silent and stone-faced as she walked barefoot the podium to talk with the judge. Speaking in a soft voice, Ray told Rodgers that her attorney is Michael Johnson.
She said her children were in foster care and that she does not work. Rodgers set Ray’s bond at $135,000, and warned her not to have unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.
Emerging from the make-shift courtroom, Ray refused comment to the news media and held her head down as she was escorted to a holding area.
Johnson said he had no comment about the case.
On Tuesday, sheriff's detectives Stroup and Mark Peavy went to the courthouse for a Department of Children and Families hearing involving Ray's parental rights.
At the end of the hearing, the detectives arrested Ray. Stroup said that, once the handcuffs were placed on her, Ray fell to the floor. Detectives immediately called for medical assistance. Emergency medical officials arrived, checked her vital signs and found her to be in good health; and Ray refused treatment, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Ray was taken to the Marion County Jail and booked in a 7 p.m. As she was led to the jail, Ray, who was wearing a black coat and no shoes, offered no comment and held her head down.
Faith J. Ray, one of her six adopted children, died several months ago. Faith had been taken to Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala on Dec. 6 and flown to Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville. An emergency room doctor told sheriff's investigators Faith had a brain bleed, which was life-threatening, as well as bruising on her arms, chest and legs.
The girl died at Shands on Dec. 8, and the Medical Examiner's Office determined the death was a homicide. Sheriff's Maj. Chris Blair said a county grand jury indicted Ray on March 6, and the indictment was sealed.
Among the adoptive children was Faith’s brother, who at the time of his sister’s death was 1 year old.
Ray reportedly told detectives various reasons why Faith had bruises, including that the child bruised easily.
FOSTER MOM CALLS FAITH 'A NORMAL BABY'
Brittany Jones, a foster parent who took Faith in on July 12, 2006, when she was 9 days old, disputes those claims.
“They lied about Faith bruising herself. She was a good child,” Jones said Wednesday.
Kid Central Inc. had asked if Jones could take the baby girl as a foster child. Jones said an official later told her Faith had cocaine in her system when she was born.
“When I got her, she was fine and acting like a normal baby,” she said.
In January, after Faith’s brother, Micah Ray, was born Dec. 1, 2007, Jones said she was approached by Children's Home Society about adopting him. At the time of his birth, Jones said Micah had several heath issues, including asthma.
Jones said she could not handle both children, so Children's Home Society told her that several married couples would be willing to take the children because they did not want to separate them.
Faith was then turned over to the Rays on March 10, 2008, Jones said. Before the adoption, Jones said she met the Rays on two or three occasions so that they could get acquainted with each other.
Jones said after the adoption she never saw Faith again, because every time she called to set up a time or place they could met, she couldn't get a hold of Ray.
Jones felt horrible about what happened to Faith, she said. "I'm glad they finally charged her.