Teen's Death After Years of 'Unspeakable' Abuse Could Have Been Prevented

Teen's Death After Years of 'Unspeakable' Abuse Could Have Been Prevented

An Iowa teenage girl's starvation death could have been prevented if social workers had thoroughly checked her home just months before the 16-year-old's emaciated body was found, according to a state watchdog.

The Iowa state ombudsman released its findings Tuesday in the case of 16-year-old Sabrina Ray, who was starved, beaten, and made to wear diapers before dying of malnutrition in May 2017.

Sabrina weighed just 56 pounds - the same weight as a healthy 7-year-old - when cops found her body at her home in Perry.

The report revealed social workers had received 11 child abuse reports in the five years leading up to the teen's death which included concerns that she looked extremely thin and that she and her siblings were forced to eat their own vomit.

Her adoptive parents Marc and Misty Ray, who took in foster children, adopted four children, and ran an in-home daycare, are currently behind bars on kidnapping and child endangerment charges.

The ombudsman's report pointed to a number of failures by the Iowa Department of Human Services to protect Sabrina and ruled that the teen's life could have been spared if social workers and contractors had been more thorough when they investigated the girl's living conditions in the months prior to her death.

It revealed the DHS had received 11 child abuse reports against the Rays in the five years between 2010 and 2015.

Despite the reports, the Rays took in Sabrina as a foster child in 2011 and adopted her in 2013.

Some of the allegations in the reports after Sabrina moved into the home included comments that Sabrina looked extremely thin and unhealthy, according to the report.

Other reports accused the Rays of forcing their foster children to drink soapy water, stand over cold vents and eat their own vomit.

They also alleged the Rays beat and belittled the children in the house.

Authorities found locks, alarms, and coverings on the doors and windows in the bedroom where Sabrina died, according to the report.

Police said she slept on a thin mattress on the floor and apparently used a toilet in the room intended for toddlers.

Sabrina's adoptive parents Marc and Misty Ray (left and right), who took in foster children, adopted four children and ran an in-home daycare, are currently behind bars on kidnapping and child endangerment charges.

The Iowa state ombudsman released its findings Tuesday in the case of 16-year-old Sabrina Ray (pictured), who was starved, beaten and made to wear diapers before dying of malnutrition in May 2017. She weighed just 56 pounds - the same weight as a healthy 7-year-old - when she died.

There was a baby monitor-type camera inside the room and the window was covered, the report notes.

There were also locks and alarms on food and beverage pantries in the kitchen and family room, it reveals.

According to the ombudsman, just months before Sabrina's death a department inspector failed to check the room she was being kept in during an inspection of the home and so did not discover these conditions.

The inspector reportedly misunderstood a policy requiring a complete examination of the house.

Other DHS workers noted in their assessments that Sabrina Ray appeared thin, but said they didn't have the training necessary to recognize malnutrition.

'There were plenty of official eyes and ears on this family,' the ombudsman said in its report.

'When it came down to it, there was not sufficient communication among DHS officials.'

The report noted similarities between the case and the incident involving Natalie Finn, a 16-year-old girl who weighed just 85 pounds when she died of starvation in 2016.

Her mother, Nicole Finn, was later convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and child endangerment.

But the report added that Finn deliberately obstructed authorities' attempts to inspect the home, whereas DHS workers and contractors had regular access to the Ray home.

The Iowa Department of Human Services didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

In its written response to the ombudsman's report, the agency said it would take steps to ensure that welfare and child regulatory staff are alerted to any allegations of in-home abuse.

The agency said it would also explore using medical professionals for consultations in cases.

Cops were called to the home on the evening of May 12 2017 to report a young female not breathing.

One officer on the scene described what he saw inside the home as 'the most horrific scene in my entire career and life.

Officer Josh Sienkiewicz said: 'It is hard to put into words the feelings that come over me - the smells, the pain, the anguish, the fear, and the evil.'

The cops found Sabrina lying on a small mattress on the floor wearing a diaper and tank top and described her body as 'nearly withered out of existence.'

Her adopted sisters were in the room with her lifeless body when they arrived at the home.

An autopsy later revealed that, based on the size and condition of her internal organs, Sabrina was likely to be subject to starvation over a long period of time.

The Rays, who ran a daycare center they called Rays of Sunshine Daycare, were sentenced along with several of their family members in January 2019.

Misty was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on kidnapping charges in January 2019.

Marc was sentenced to 80 years for kidnapping and child endangerment.

Sentencing Judge Terry Rickers branded their actions 'cruel and evil' as he told the court how the teen's 'skin barely cover[ed] her skeleton'

'Sabrina lies there, malnourished, emaciated, diaper-clad, covered in various wounds and bruises. Her rash and skin barely cover her skeleton,' he said.

'Mr. Ray and Mrs. Ray, your actions and your treatments of your daughters, in this case, could be fairly described as both cruel and evil.'

Sabrina's adoptive brother Justin Dale Ray (left), grandmother Carla Bousman (center), and cousin Josie Raye Bousman (right) were charged in connection with Sabrina's death.

Prosecutors told how the couple abused the adopted and foster children in their care.

'Rather than love and care for these girls, the defendant locked them in a room, starved them, abused them, pitted them against each other, denied their basic necessities, and used them as slave labor,' prosecutor Stacy Ritchie said.

Sabrina's brother, Justin Ray, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drop-kicking her down a basement staircase.

Josie Raye Bousman, Sabrina's 21-year-old cousin, was charged with three counts of kidnapping, child endangerment causing death, and obstructing prosecution.

The teen's adoptive grandmother, Carla Bousman was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to neglect of a dependent person and two counts of child endangerment, among other charges.

She was handed new charges in May 2019 after allegedly trying to escape prison.
Teen's Death After Years of 'Unspeakable' Abuse Could Have Been Prevented
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