DNA clears suspect in girl's killing

May 21, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

Prosecutors have dropped murder and rape charges against a prominent preacher's brother who had been accused of killing 9-year-old Ebony Scott, whose body was found in 1992 in a trash bin at a West Baltimore public housing complex.

Court records show that first-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree sex offense charges against Elliott Ray, 47, were dropped May 12 for lack of evidence. Police said they still are aggressively looking for the real killer.

Investigators said the charges were dropped after a DNA test showed Mr. Ray's bodily fluids did not match the killer's fluids, which were found at the crime scene.

Mr. Ray is the older brother of the Rev. Willie Ray, who has led dozens of "Stop the Killing" prayer vigils and rallies for Baltimore slaying victims. Elliott Ray has been released from jail -- where he had been held without bail -- and is staying with his sister.

"It was a bitter experience, but a good one because it tested our faith and strength," the reverend said yesterday.

The family will be having a "welcome home" reception for Elliott Ray next week, followed by a news conference, the reverend said.

"We're thanking God that there is still justice left in the system. My brother has some problems -- he had been homeless for a time, and was under a lot of stress -- but he knew nothing of this horrible crime," the reverend said.

The Scott girl was found dead Aug. 13, 1992, the day after she disappeared. She and her mother had come from New York City to visit a relative at the George B. Murphy Homes.

At the time of the slaying, Elliott Ray was subletting an apartment on the 13th floor of the complex with another man. Ebony Scott and her mother, Rayna Scott, had been visiting Ms. Scott's sister on the eighth floor.

Police said that Ebony was last seen playing with other children. The next day, her body was found in a trash bin in front of the high-rise building in the 900 block of Argyle Ave. She had been strangled and wrapped in a sheet.

The discovery of the body touched off an outcry against violence Baltimore and prompted residents at the drug-ridden complex to issue a plea to city officials for better security.

Elliott Ray was arrested on Feb. 25, 1993, after a six-month investigation in which detectives interviewed dozens of Murphy Homes residents.

The reverend said he and his brother don't hold a grudge against police or prosecutors, who he said made "an honest mistake and have apologized to us."

"We're just hoping now that the murderer will be brought to justice. That's what our family is all about -- justice," he said.

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