A New York attorney who authorities say shot his child’s mother to death at the couple’s New Jersey home has been apprehended in Cuba and returned to U.S. soil.
James R. Ray III, 55, was apprehended before he passed through customs at an airport in Cuba on Oct. 28, and was brought back to New Jersey by FBI agents on Nov. 6, acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.
After shooting Angela M. Bledsoe, 44, on Oct. 23 at a Montclair home, he took the couple’s 6-year-old daughter to the home of relatives, then traveled to the Southwestern U.S. and crossed the border into Mexico before catching a flight to Cuba, Stephens said.
After obtaining a tip that Ray intended to travel to Cuba, authorities obtained a so-called Red Notice from Interpol, stating that Ray was wanted for murder, according to Gregory Ehrie, special agent in charge at the FBI’s Newark office. Cuban officials honored that notice and apprehended him before he passed through customs, and he was held in a nearby jail before being turned over to U.S. officials, Ehrie said.
Ray is being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility and will have a bail hearing on Nov. 13 before Essex County Superior Court Judge Martin Cronin. The prosecutor’s office will seek to have him held without bail, Stephens said, noting the extensive cooperation between local, county, state, national and international law enforcement.
The prosecutor’s office said Ray faces murder and weapons charges.
Bledsoe suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was declared dead at the scene when police visited the couple’s Montclair home for a wellness check.
No motive has been identified for the murder, Stephens said, and he declined to say if the gun used to shoot Bledsoe has been recovered.
Ray practiced at the Law Firm of Ray and Associates on Fulton Street in Manhattan, described on its website as a full-service intellectual property, business and personal injury law firm. He graduated in 2008 from the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
Ray was sued in April 2013 by a paralegal in his office who accused him of firing her after she rejected his sexual advances. The plaintiff, Sabrina Rafi, said in court papers that Ray “preyed on recent law school graduates” by using “the depressed market to take advantage of novices to the profession.” Rafi claimed Ray identified himself as a polygamist and announced his intention to make her his “third wife,” according to the complaint. Rafi, then a recent graduate of American University’s Washington College of Law, and awaiting admission to the New York bar, was required to work 50 to 55 hours per week at Ray’s firm in exchange for a salary of $800 a month, the suit said. The case was settled for $35,000 in December 2013, according to a court document.
In April 2014, Ray represented himself in a civil rights suit against the New Jersey judge who presided over his matrimonial case, Superior Court Judge Nancy Sivilli, and Leslie Renee Adams, the lawyer who represented Ray’s former wife. He claimed his due process and equal protection rights were violated by the judge’s disposition of his dispute with his former wife about who should make tuition payments for their child, but the matter ended when the defendants’ motions to dismiss were granted in July 2014.