The Department of Human Services has opened a child abuse investigation regarding the death of 16-year-old Sabrina Ray. Ray was found deceased at the residence of 1708 First Avenue in Perry on Friday, May 12. The residence doubles as Rays of Sunshine Daycare, run by Misty and Marc Ray.
A statement from the Iowa DHS says that they are “immediately beginning the process of engaging an outside expert to examine DHS’s performance, and make recommendations on how we can strengthen our practices and best support our staff as we work to keep children safe from abuse and neglect.”
Under the law, DHS is unable to reveal more details surrounding the investigation until given further direction from law enforcement.
Ray was found unresponsive at 6:30 p.m. by the Perry Police Department and Dallas County Paramedics on Friday, May 12. An autopsy was conducted on Monday, May 15, but the cause of death is still being determined pending more testing according to the Perry Police Department.
Perry Police Chief, Eric Vaughn, indicated that he has seen cases where it takes weeks or months to determine a cause of death, but he hopes to have more information within a few days.
Superintendent Lynn Ubben was unaware of who Ray was before the name was released by the Perry Police Department and did not believe she was a student of the Perry Community School District, and was possibly home-schooled.
The Rays of Sunshine daycare facility was put on pause for two weeks prior to Friday’s incident, according to Kim Anderson, a parent of children who attend the daycare.
“The daycare was closed prior to tragedy,” Anderson said. “The family was leaving for their annual Disney vacation; they had signs posted for a week and notified families months in advance of this vacation.”
Anderson’s children, ages two and six have been attending the daycare for close to a year.
“My children love Rays of Sunshine daycare; they never cry when I drop them off and they are eager to go play and see their friends,” Anderson said.
A request for comment from Rays of Sunshine Daycare regarding the daycare’s reopening was not immediately returned.
According to records from the Dallas County Assessors Office, the house is owned by Richard and Janet Gregory.
The Perry Chief will continue to update the story as more information is available.