Man held in girl's slaying Suspect is brother of pastor who leads anti-violence rallies

February 26, 1993|By Michael James and Roger Twigg | Michael James and Roger Twigg,Staff Writers

The brother of a minister who has led countless prayer vigils for Baltimore murder victims was arrested yesterday in the killing of 9-year-old Ebony Scott, the New York City girl whose body was found stuffed in a trash bin at the George B. Murphy Homes housing project.

Elliot Ray, 46, the older brother of crusading preacher Willie Ray, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of the Scott girl. He was arrested about 8:30 a.m. as he left a house in the 2500 block of Greenmount Ave., police said.

The girl was found dead Aug. 13, the day after she disappeared. She and her mother had come down from the Bronx to visit a relative at the Murphy Homes project in West Baltimore.

At the time, Elliot Ray was subletting an apartment at the complex, police said.

The Rev. Willie Ray, 44, said last night that his brother has had a troubled life, been in and out of hospitals for depression, and has been homeless in recent months. The minister said he plans to stand by his brother and get him a lawyer.

"I don't think they've got the right person; my brother is not a deranged person, and he is not violent," said the minister, who held about 20 "Stop the Killing" vigils in Baltimore last year. "I can tell if he's guilty of anything, and I get good vibes that he is innocent."

The discovery of the young girl's body touched off a wave of outcry against Baltimore violence and prompted residents at the drug-ridden complex to issue a plea to city officials for more security.

In the days after the murder, the Rev. Willie Ray, unaware that his brother was being investigated as a suspect in the murder, went to pray with the victim's family.

"Later, I learned he was being looked at by the police. I was devastated. You live in the real world and you try to do the right thing, but you can't stop the tragedy. Nobody's exempt," the minister said. "As the laws of Murphy said, if it can go wrong, it will."

Police said the Scott girl was strangled and sexually molested.

Elliot Ray was living with a male acquaintance on the 13th floor of the complex, in the 900 block of Argyle Ave. Both he and his acquaintance were questioned by police in August but were not charged.

On Monday, Elliot Ray was charged in a warrant with murder after police decided they had enough evidence. He was being held at the Central District lockup awaiting a bail hearing last night.

The young victim, who was visiting her sister, Rayna Scott, 30, who lived in an eighth-floor apartment, disappeared Aug. 12 while playing with several other children. She was reported missing just after 7 p.m. that day.

Detectives from the city police department's Missing Persons Unit scoured the area and they found the girl's body in a trash bin the following day. The body had been wrapped in a sheet.

The Rev. Willie Ray, who said he is an associate pastor with Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, has led numerous prayer vigils for murder victims and rallies denouncing street violence.

"I'm forging ahead, this won't stop me," said the minister, who on Wednesday held a vigil in front of City Hall for several murder victims.

Elliot Ray served a 2 1/2 -year sentence in the state correctional system 11 years ago for larceny, burglary and narcotics violations, a police source said.

In February 1992, Elliot Ray's 23-year-old son, Elliot "Piggie Ray" Ray Jr., was shot to death near Murphy Homes. Two other people were were wounded in what police called an act of drug-related violence.

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