The ex-wife of assassin James Earl Ray, who killed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is facing animal abuse charges in Tennessee, where dozens of neglected dogs were found living in her filthy home, authorities said.
Police in Jackson raided the ramshackle property owned by Anna Sandhu Ray, 74, on Monday and uncovered a house of horrors where 44 dogs were found living atop piles of trash or caged while soaked in their own waste, according to national nonprofit Animal Rescue Corps.
At least three dead dogs were found in the house and the stench from “dangerously high levels” of ammonia gas produced by the floor’s thick coating of animal feces was so pungent it could be smelled outside, ARC officials said.
“The conditions at Ms. Ray’s home are among the worst we have seen in the ten years we have been dealing with cases where large numbers of animals are suffering,” ARC executive director Tim Woodward said in a statement to The Post. “These dogs desperately needed to be removed from that unlivable environment and will need ongoing veterinary care.”
Ray was charged Monday with 44 counts of animal cruelty. Many of the dogs showed signs of severe neglect, including intestinal worms and external parasites. None of the animals had access to food or water, ARC officials said.
“It’s absolutely horrible,” ARC director of operations Amy Haverstick said. “These poor animals have endured extreme suffering.”
“I took care of my babies,” Ray told Judge Blake Anderson. “I laid on the back bedroom floor. They all laid around me, and we slept together. I didn’t catch anything. I don’t have anything.”
Anderson asked Ray whether her husband was still living during her court appearance, promoting her to correct the judge.
“James Earl Ray? The killer?” she reportedly responded. “He died some time ago. And he’s my ex-husband.”
Anderson said he ordered Ray three weeks ago to remove the dogs, referencing her earlier court appearance, according to the station.
“Nobody told me,” Ray told Anderson. “If I was in court, it may be because I can’t hear a damn thing.”
The animals recovered from Ray’s home will be sent to an emergency shelter for necessary medical care. Anderson also ordered Ray to undergo a mental health evaluation and set her bond at $5,000, WBBJ reported.
Anna married James Earl Ray in 1978, ten years into his 99-year sentence after being convicted of assassinating King in April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, WBBJ reported.
Anna Sandhu Ray filed for divorce in 1992, according to WKRN. Ray later died in 1998 at the age of 70, reportedly from liver disease and kidney failure.