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Ray transferred to Kershaw County jail from Iowa

Posted: July 12, 2018 4:21 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Provided by the KCDC/

William Eugene Ray

The father of a 2-year-old girl listed as missing for more than a month earlier this year is now behind bars at the Kershaw County Detention Center (KCDC) after being held at a jail in Iowa.

Prisoner Transport Services brought William Eugene Ray, 44, of Maggie Avenue in east Camden, to the county jail a little after 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to KCDC officials. He is being held on a charge of grand larceny, value greater than $2,000, but less than $10,000 by the Camden Police Department (CPD). Ray allegedly stole his own Ford Aerostar Van from a bonding company’s lot where it was being kept as collateral in connection with an Oct. 2017 shoplifting charge. He is also being held on two bond revocation warrants.

The CPD alleges that Ray stole the van, with help from his brother, Johnny Lynn Ray, 46, also of Maggie Avenue, on April 15 -- the day William Ray, and his wife, 36-year-old Jessica Louise Ray, allegedly left Kershaw County to avoid turning their 2-year-old daughter, Dakota, over to the Department of Social Services (DSS).

The case began three days earlier, April 12, when county deputies called DSS workers to the Plantation Motel on U.S. 1 in east Camden because of the Rays’ alleged use of methamphetamine in Dakota’s presence.

DSS reportedly set up a safety plan whereby her uncle, Johnny Ray, would be in his care. One of the stipulations was that he not allow Dakota to be left alone with either parent. On Sunday, April 15, Johnny Ray claimed -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had left Dakota and her father at DSS’ offices on East DeKalb Street. Officers charged Johnny Ray with unlawful neglect, and then later with being an accessory before the fact for grand larceny of a vehicle. Johnny Ray reportedly admitted to taking his brother to a parking lot in east Camden where William Ray stole a license plate, and then drove him to the Bramblewood Plantation Road bonding company where the van was being kept. Charges against Johnny Ray are still pending.

William and Jessica Ray, with Dakota, left the state, leading the CPD to declare the 2-year-old as missing.

Several people reported sighting the Rays or their van in North Carolina as well as the Upper Midwest and Great Plains regions. Ultimately, however, it was a sighting in Iowa that led deputies there to locate the family.

The Winneshiek County (Iowa) Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) conducted a traffic stop after receiving tips of the van being spotted near a Walmart in Decorah, Iowa, on May 17. Deputies charged William Ray with felony theft of a vehicle, operating a non-registered vehicle, no valid driver’s license, failure to provide proof of insurance and fifth-degree theft.

WCSO deputies also charged Jessica Ray with fifth-degree theft because the couple allegedly stole a purse from a woman living nearly 260 miles away in Hinton, Iowa.

Deputies also arrested Tami Linne, 56, of Bluffton, Iowa, and charged her with aggravated misdemeanor accessory to felony in connection with harboring a fugitive. According to the WCSO, the Rays answered a Craigslist ad placed by Linne looking for someone to help with housework. Even after learning of their fugitive status, Linne allegedly allowed the Rays to stay with her until they were caught by deputies.

According to CPD Chief Joe Floyd, Iowa family services returned Dakota to Kershaw County shortly after her parents’ arrests, after which local DSS officials placed her in foster care. Floyd said that as far as his department knows, Jessica Ray is still in Iowa.

In an incident report released by the CPD on Wednesday, KCDC officers called for police to come to the jail because they found one-half of a white pill on Ray during a search about five hours after he was brought into the jail on Tuesday. A KCDC officer said they escorted Ray to the shower area and searched him and that a small white bag containing a partially ground-up pill fell from under his genitals. Although the CPD officer could not see any identifying marks, they were advised it was Soboxone.

According to Drugs.com, Suboxone is a combination of Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid while Naloxone is supposed to combat the addictive effects of opioids.

As of Thursday afternoon, online court records did not show that Ray had not been charged with any drug violations.

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