Atlanta police seek help in 7-year-old gay murder

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imageThe seven-year-old unsolved brutal killing of a southeast Atlanta gay man is gaining renewed attention as police investigators turn to the public for help.

John E. Ray (photo), 32, was beaten and stabbed in his Lakewood Heights home after apparently meeting his attacker through a gay dating website. His bloodied body was found on May 19, 2004 with the broken-off blade of the knife that killed him stuck in his chest and his hands bound. But the Atlanta Police Department investigation into the homicide soon stalled.

Now, Det. David Quinn of the department’s Complex Cold Case Unit spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the case to help revive it.

“We believe that the day that he [disappeared], he was on a date in his home,” Quinn said. “At some point, something happened … something huge, and John Ray is attacked violently within his home.”

But the killer was calculating.

“That one individual actually took a shower at John Ray’s home,” he said. “He also took the time to go into the kitchen [and] get cleaning products, and … he wiped everything down with bleach.”

Atlanta police missed a break in the case the day after Ray’s body was discovered. That’s when police spotted Ray’s car not far from his home. But a police chase of the vehicle was called off just before the driver crashed into a utility pole. When police arrived, the driver had fled, according to the AJC.

Late last month, Atlanta police turned to Project Q Atlanta and the GA Voice to schedule an interview with Quinn to discuss the homicide. But the meeting with the gay media outlets, set for Tuesday, was later cancelled by a police spokesperson who said Quinn wasn’t yet ready to discuss the case. Quinn then reviewed the case – even sharing crime scene photos – with the AJC, which published its story on Thursday.

The police spokesperson, Carlos Campos, was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

Jonique Brown, Ray’s sister, told the AJC that her older brother was her best friend. Discussing the cold case again gave her and the family mixed emotions.

“It was definitely a shock,” Ray’s younger sister, Jonique Brown, told the AJC on Wednesday. “We thought that whoever did this had to be either crazy or in desperate need of something. But John would’ve given them the shirt off his back.”

“It brought up all those sad feelings again,” Brown said. “But my mother was overjoyed.”

Crime Stoppers Atlanta is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect. Callers may remain anonymous.

Photo courtesy Jonique Brown

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