Shit You Should Know

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Did Somebody Have A Bad Day At Work?

While we spent the holidays in New Orleans, I received a phone call from the homeroom mother from my son’s class. At the time, my mother-in-law, my kids, and I were at Chuck E. Cheese’s having a grand old time stuffing our faces with pizza as the kids blitzed around the place shoving tokens into games for tickets that they hoped would get them a prize off the top shelf. That’s right. They wanted top shelf shit!

The first time the home room mother called I didn’t even hear the phone ring. The second time I sent it to voicemail. I figured I could get back to her later since this was the last time the kids were seeing their Mimi before we left to head back to Oklahoma. Shortly after, I received a text message. It said:

“I just wanted to let you all know about the death of one of our kids’ classmate. Malik was beaten to death by his stepfather last week. He was in Ms. Taylor’s class. I just wanted to give everyone a heads up before school starts.”

This was not the text I was expecting to read. Not at all! I’m not real sure what I was expecting but I assure you this was not it. I was unable to contain my shock and I exclaimed, “Oh my god!” Of course, then those sitting near me wanted to know what was wrong. So I, being one of those people that lack the gift of tact, share the text with the table including my children. Unfortunately, I would have shared this with them even at Disney World on the Tea Cups because, hey, that’s life. I’m not good at sugar coating things.

For the next hour, my kids go about their business playing ski ball and token launchers. Everything seems to be normal.

Later when we arrived back at Paw-Paw’s house, things got real. Part of me hoped that the homeroom mother was confused and was just going on a false rumor but upon going to the KSWO website I found more reality than I was able to swallow. What I discovered was sad and it built up a sense of hatred for this man, Lancey D. Ray, pictured here,.

My son came into the room and we talked about it. I can only imagine how hard it was for his young mind to process this. The thought process in charge of making the connections between his friend and his parents and the fact that the kid was beaten to death by one or both of them must have been confusing and terrifying. Those were the people that were supposed to protect that boy, not end him.

My son went on to tell me about a time Malik came to school with bruises on his face. He had told my son and their other friends that over the weekend his family was play fighting. Another time, my son said he came to school missing a fingernail and he said he had smashed his finger in the door.
Now understand something, reader, we were in New Orleans. The last time we were there was in April 2010 for Maw-Maw’s funeral. Now we are back in her house eight months later finding out that someone else has died. As awful as this sounds, at least Maw-Maw died of cancer. It was something that made for many conversations with my children in an effort to better prepare them for when the time came that she passed away. When it came to Malik, there was no way in hell I could have prepared my child for that. NONE! Hell, it completely blindsided me. A couple of weeks earlier my son was picking out a gift for his friend and now just like that he was snuffed out like a lit candle.
That night, my son came into the room I slept in and he was crying. He said he missed Maw-Maw and he missed Malik. He crawled up next to me and I gave him a hug. Then he says, “Mom. What if I go to school on Monday and Malik is there?” I wasn’t exactly sure if he meant really there or as a ghost so I asked him to explain. He says, “What if it isn’t true and he isn’t dead?” So I told him I hoped it was all a lie too but I explained to him that I did read about it on the local news site. He asked to see it. I pulled it up for him.

After he read it, he cried a little and asked me why Malik’s dad did that to him. I told him I didn’t know for sure. What was I supposed to say to him? I have no idea what would possess someone to beat a child to death, to lose control like that. After awhile, I walked my son back to his room and tucked him back into bed.

After we made it back to Oklahoma, I read more about the horrible crime on KSWO. I found that Ray was accused of beating Malik with a leather belt and a cutting board that day because he wouldn’t eat his lunch. What’s worse was when it was released that the mother, the boy’s own flesh and blood, had also broken a piece of wood over his backside that same day.

At first, I must admit, I assumed mom, Denise, was a victim too. However, I do not think it excused her for allowing her child to be beat. First off, the step father was a soldier in the army which means he was gone frequently between deployments and trips to the field. She had the chance to escape that house with her children. Yes, there were two other younger children in that home, 5 and 6, which are now in protective custody. Thank goodness!

It also concerns me that no one at the school was aware of this. I mean, my son and his friends...10 year olds, noticed bruises. Why didn’t an adult?
The school board did put a counseling crisis team into place for the children and teachers at the school. On the Sunday before my kids returned to school, I encouraged my son to seek counsel. I told him it might help him get some closure to talk to someone other than me and his own head.

Later, he told me that he disclosed all the information about the bruises and the missing fingernail to the counselor. He said that the counselor’s told him that they would have to turn the information over to the police. The counselor met with me to let me know that there was a small possibility that my boy would be asked to give a statement and possibly testify in court with my permission.

It is really alarming what happened to Malik. I never had the pleasure of meeting him. Even though he lived around the corner, he was never allowed to play when my son went to call on him. My son said Malik was a good student and one of the top readers in the class.

My son’s last memory of his friend was the last day of school before winter break when Malik said, “Happy birthday!” and handed over a bag of popcorn he didn’t want. “It’s not my birthday.”, my son says. Then he says Malik said to him, “Well, take it in case I don’t see you for your birthday.” Later, my son would ask me if I thought maybe Malik knew he wasn’t coming back.

The poor kid has been having his sleep disturbed by dreams. He says sometimes he sees Malik in his room. Sometimes he says he dreams of him. He’s woken up a few times very upset and I have had to sit with him on the sofa trying to comfort his heart with soothing words and a listening ear. It’s not fun and hope fate gives me a break in loss for a while so that our family, especially my boy, can heal. The year 2010 was very sad for us with my husband’s grandmother passing away but it was even more difficult for my son with the passing of his friend. Hopefully, 2011 will be less trying.

The following is poem I have shared with my son. I found it after Maw-Maw died and it help to ease some of the pain in my heart. Being agnostic, I don’t necessarily believe in heaven or hell. I do believe that energy is constant and whatever is inside of us, I guess in a sense it’s your soul, it becomes one with everything else. As for the organic part of you, it too becomes part of everything else as in ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Are we clear? Yeah. I didn’t think so. Anyway…here’s the poem.

His Journey’s Just Begun
Author Unknown

Don’t think of him as gone away
His journey’s just begun
Life holds so many facets
This existence is only one
Just think of him as resting
From the pain and tears
In a place of warmth and comfort
Where there are no days or years
Think of how he must be wishing
That we could know today
How nothing but our sadness
Can truly pass away
And think of him as living
In the hearts of all of us
For nothing loved is ever lost
And he was loved so much.

RIP Malik Ray.
Your friend misses you.

Hopefully, I'll be able to do a brief update in March when Lancey D. Ray goes to trial and I hope that Denise Ray doesn't get out of going to trial as well.  We'll have to wait and see.

An update can be found here.


  1. "he cried a little and asked me why Malik’s dad did that to him."

    Holy crap. That is a good question. When I hear stories like this I never stop to think why it happened in the first place. I just accept that is the way the world works sometimes.

    Very good post, Asha.

  2. Thanks, Doug. It is a good question and only kids seem to be able to find that magic word "why" when it comes to stuff like this.

  3. How savage and sad. This hit really close to home for me. I don't think I could ever express in words (nor would I want to) what it feels like to know that the very person who is supposed to love and protect you is actually more capable of killing you than hugging you. After years and years of soul searching and asking that same "why," all I have been able to come up with are two possible explanations. First, some people are so self absorbed and self centered that they are literally incapable of loving or putting anyone else's needs before their own, including and (sadly and oddly enough) especially their own flesh and blood. Second, although many of us have evolved, not all of us have. There are quite literally savages still roaming this earth and most of them look just like us. A person's physical appearance, class, income and/or education are no indication of their stage of psychological evolution. Simply put, some people still haven't learned how to use their words and their brains. Brute force still rules their world. I am not sure if this line of logic will help ease your beautiful little boy's pain, but I am sure little will. He is so fortunate to have a mom like you that willing not only to love him but also to guide him through these rough patches in life. This incident is sure to cause him to question the goodness of humanity as a whole but his love and trust in you cannot be changed by the actions of another "parent" (and I use that term VERY loosely).

    P.s. I hope this "soldier" (again, a term I use loosely in this situation) spends the rest of his life breaking rock in a brig until he rots from natural causes. I also hope they make special considerations for the mom and allow her to join him. Shame on the teachers. If the kids noticed, they should have too. It sounds like this poor child was isolated and his teachers were his only line of defense. What a shame all around.

  4. That's so sad - AND enraging. There's no answer to the question your son asks - that's because it should never happen.

    Hope this brings your family even closer together.

  5. We all have to work together to help stop child abuse. It is so horrendous that I just can't keep quiet about it. Thank you for calling much needed attention to this issue.

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  6. :(
    How can a parent do that to a helpless kid.. I hate it that his mother let her be beaten and all..

    I feel a goosebump when you said that Malik gave your son pop corn and it's not his birthday and all... :)

  7. So sad!! I can't even think how his mother didn't do anything at all !!!!!

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  8. This just breaks my heart. I am so sorry that y'all had to deal with this. :(


    PS: Following you.

  9. great post! what a terrible tragedy. and I'm with you on the energy moving on, maybe he is staying close to your son for awhile because he felt a kind soul in him.

    Thanks for linking up at Tuesdays Gone I'm now following

  10. It just hurts to read that--I mean, as an adult, it's hard to make sense of something so senseless, but for children, it's just completely incomprehensible.

  11. Oh. My. God. Gotta go hug my babies now. stopped by from the hop.

  12. So difficult to even think about.

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  13. That's just horrible! I just can't understand what can drive someone to do something so absolutely hideous. You've done a really good job writing about it, I don't think I's so insane.

  14. This breaks my heart. Thank you for your post and for reminding all of us to look a little closer at the child next to us, to appriciate a little more what we have, and to pray that our children never have to witness abuse.

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  15. I'll never, never understand how anyone could do this to a child. Especially their own child. It saddens and sickens me. It's stories like these that make me support the death penalty. A child has no way out and has unconditional love for their parents. I don't understand it, I doubt I ever will.

  16. My husband was in his unit at Fort Sill, said he was always a creepy one but you never could imagine that someone could do such a horrible things to a child. I hope his wife is convicted as well, she admitted to police she had beat him in the past. Just horrible and saddening a child dies every day like this

  17. @Anon. The prelimanary hearing was supposed to be today but I haven't been able to find anything about it.

  18. I knew Malik from the time in Germany, before they left to the states. When my husband and I got married in 2003, Malik was holding our wedding rings, he was 3 years old. We only wanted him to do it, because he was just so adorable. Iam a strong believer and Malik is in a better place, God has taken him away, so that nobody can ever hurt him again. I got to know Denise as a virtious woman of God and she was very loving towards Malik. This times were, when she was a single mum. When she met her husband, they left soon to the states and we only had rare e-mail contact. In her mails everything was always perfect and great. The woman i got to know in Germany, has nothing to do with the woman she turned into. But only God has the right to charge her, not we! We do not have a right. If he can forgive, what about us? Who are we, to throw the first stone?

  19. @Monika While I respect your views, I expect respect of mine. I believe we are all judged by our peers and with that said, I believe I have the right to judge who I please. I do not and will not take pity on Denise...ever. If God can forgive her, shame on him. I will not nor will I ever forgive Lancey Ray for his monstrocities. PERIOD. Judge me how you'd like.

  20. Hello Asha, of course i respect your opinion. It is for you, to speak the way you want to.
    And what i wrote, is more for me, than for others to take it personal. I have to watch my own thoughts and actions, because when i stand before the father, iam held accountable for me, not for others. But what i know, when i walk in anger or hate towards another person, it will affect my life and the life of my family, too. And no Lancey is worth that. That is all iam saying. And not, that what they did was right. It was surely not. I loved Malik too and i miss him.

  21. @Monika I never had the pleasure of meeting Malik for myself. We lived just around the corner from him and he was never allowed to come play. My anger comes from the pain that I have seen my son go through over this. Although his struggle is minor compared to what Malik had to endure, it all falls in the hands of the Ray's. Like I said in the post, there was no way to prepare my child for this and I have watched him struggle to understand something that there is no explaination for.

  22. Yes, i understand what you are going through. My godson and Malik were best friends here in Germany. Lancey used to carry them out for "Man Day" and i know they had fun. When the news hit us, my friend was so shocked, to give her son in the hands of a murderer....but it was not that way here. I do not understand it either and my godson heard us talking about his death, but since today, he refuse to speak about Malik. Maybe it is different, because it has been a while, since they left. I will be praying for you and your family, for the pain and the anger to be heal!

  23. OMG, this story of yours is so heart breaking. I followed Malik's story because of just curiosity. I do foster care and have had abused children in my home. I was an abused child myself. Of course this caught my attention. It never dawned on me that I freaking knew the stepfather or I had met him. He was new to the place I worked at. He was very polite, very professional. I even saw him and his family at the tree lighting ceremony on post. I would have never suspected such a horrible thing!! He had barely been here a month, well shoot, two weeks. I did not put it together till I got to work and overheard conversation about the man in that unit beat his son to death and it hit me, I just read that story!! I cried just thinking about what Malik went through and over not eating lunch, are u kidding me??? A wooden cutting board, I dropped one on my foot and cried like a little girl it hurt so bad and it was an accident. I can't fathom anyone being hit with one, let alone a 10 year old. and on top of that, his mother did it too? Just sickening. My heart aches for your son and for all Malik's classmates who felt this loss. You made a comment that Malik told your son his family play fought, man, brought back so many memories of the times I made up excuses for my dad (who I found out later was my step dad). We have to be more alert to certain signs because unfortunately signs are out there when it comes to abuse!!! I love reading your stuff, I really do because you say it straight and that is what people need to hear. I dont believe in revenge, but sorry, death penalty is worthy of this one. This angel was a gift to his mother, his siblings, his family and yes even his step father. So young and now for what, his life is over. Tell your son I think Malik is his guardian angel, someone to watch over him and maybe even to let your son know Malik is at peace now.

  24. I knew this family and the mom loved her kids. We lived in KY together and Malik came over and played with my son. There are two sides to every story and in the middle there is the truth. Please pray for Denise, this is harder than you know on her. I know her two younger kids and they are sweet and were well loved. My son and I will remember Malik every year. Some who posted are not Christians and I can understand your lack of compassion, but remember your anger is the same kind of anger that kills. You are no different. Malik was a Christian, he and my son talked about God all the time. It's a year later and your rantings and anger can't bring him back. Instead, have compassion on those left behind. They are going through it bad enough.

  25. I also knew this family while they lived in Kentucky. I've been trying to find out what, if anything, is happening in the trial. Do you know of any new developments?

    1. Trail started today. 30 Jan 2012

  26. I found your story when I was doing a google search to see what had happened to the stepfather. I had a pleasure of knowing Malik and his younger siblings. He was one of the sweetest kids I had ever met, and I cried for days when I found out about him. Your story about your son really touched my heart reading it. And brought back the memories of Malik, and I hope that your son is doing ok with the year anniversary of his death just passing. Do you know what came of the trial? I searched and can't find any information on it except that the trial was suppose to happen in march.

    1. you can find information regarding the court hearing/trial at His trial is set for January 30th.

  27. I also found your story when I did a google search on the case. It's so sad to see that your son had to go through such a horrific event, especially after reflecting on what Malik probably meant when he said "Happy Birthday", after hearing of his sad death. The horrific living being, who deserves to die by means of horrific pain and cruelty that he put Malik through, is on trial as we speak. The worst of it is he has no remorse for what he did. I was glad to see that his charges were changed to 1st degree murder and I pray that justice is served him by being sentenced to death. I believe the trial started on January 13th, and you can track the case here: Looks like the trial is ongoing based on the update posted today. On that same site, you can search cases and find updates on the mother, of whom is set to stand trial on May 11th, and she currently is out on $50,000 bail.

  28. Latest update: Trial postponed


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