Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Guy Dep’t

Meet Ronald A. Gray. He’s the one in the Jacob Marley rig in this quaint old photo. He’s in his fifties now; his crimes not only predated the Internet (not entirely, as we had Lexis/Nexis and Arpanet at the unit a few years earlier, but to a first approximation), but he’s been on death row longer than the any of the people he killed lived. (There were at least four, for which he was convicted). Those of his rape victims that he did not murder (at least five for which he was convicted) have lived with the consequences. In the worst case this has been death, living, for longer than her carefree if dimly-recalled period of life before she met this brute.

Another measure of how long ago all this happened is this: the only uniform items in the picture that are still worn by the US Army are the paratroopers’ maroon berets, the black necktie,  and some of the shiny doodads. If we didn’t know the picture was shot on 6 Apr 88 (by Marcus Castro of the Fayetteville, NC, Observer; nice job, the way the moving subject’s in focus and the foreground and background distractions aren’t), we’d be able to date it to the 80s by the Class A green uniform, the light-green shirt, and the MP’s Hitler mustache and lightweight summer BDU. (Or is it a late square-pocket ERDL? Too lazy to pull examples out of the Old War Wardrobe).

In the picture, Gray is wearing the uniform of a cook in the 82nd Airborne Division, a Specialist, 4th Grade, none of which he was at the moment the picture was snapped, for he had just been sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, forfeitures and reduction to E-1, as well as life sentences (for the rapes that happened under military jurisdiction) and death (for the murders). Civilian courts also sentenced him to eight life terms, five concurrent and three consecutive, for seven other crimes, including two more murders. (“Who gets jurisdiction” when a soldier commits crimes on and off post, and against civilian and military victims, can get complicated, but they work it out).

Although he contested the court-martial, Gray admitted his guilt in civil court with that same self-satisfied smirk you see in the picture. And then he sat back and let lawyers champion him. Which some lawyers, true to their species’s belly-sliding, sidewinding, no-shoulders, smooth-but-cool-to-the-touch nature, did do.

His current lawyers are the hybristophiles — which is a person with a dysfunctional and antisocial love of criminals, if the word is new to you — of the Death Penalty Information Center. Despite its focus-grouped euphemistic name, it is really a Death Penalty Opposition Center. (Any penalty, really; its activists tend also to oppose life sentences, and often, any sentences, for serial killers and other predators and pathogens). It is a nest of very strange humans who walk erect on their hind legs, and ride high on the benefits of a civilized lifestyle, but believe that criminal enemies of that civilization have the absolute right to walk free. And victims have the right to die, or get raped and assaulted, and shut up about it.

Some of them (perhaps, all of them) take a ghoulish and voyeuristic delight in the suffering of the direct and indirect victims of murderers and rapists, like Our Boy here. Let us pause for a moment and insert something that is missing from most of the articles about Gray: his victims and their sufferings. From an appeal to the Court of Military Appeals (.pdf):

In January 1987, appellant was identified and arrested for the rape of a woman in the vicinity of Fairlane Acres, a trailer park near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The next day the body of Ms. Kimberly Ann Ruggles was found near that area on Fort Bragg. “She had received multiple stab wounds” and had “suffered bruises on her eyebrow, bruises on her nose, and a laceration on her lip.” She had been raped and anally sodomized. Evidence in her vehicle and in his possession implicated appellant.

OK, but that’s just one case (well, two cases, but only one murder).

Later the same month, the body of Private (PVT) Laura Lee Vickery-Clay was found. “She had been shot four times (while she was alive), in the neck, forehead, chest, and back of the head. Also, she had suffered blunt force trauma to the right cheek, the left side of her face, around her left eye, her left breast, abdomen, and both legs and arms.” PVT Vickery-Clay “had been raped and anally sodomized.” Evidence on her car and the murder weapon implicated appellant.

OK, two brutal murders, one violent rape…. and counting…

Subsequent media coverage of appellant’s arrest for these crimes produced another victim (PVT Nameth), who recognized his face from photographs of appellant on television and in the newspaper. She reported that appellant had “raped her, and stabbed her repeatedly in the neck and side”; she “suffered a laceration of the trachea and a collapsed or punctured lung.” 37 MJ at 736.

Here’s a little more on Ruggles, whose grieving father, and three children who are older now than she was at her death, still wait for justice.

She was working as a taxi-cab driver near Fort Bragg, N.C., where Gray was stationed, and her last fare was a passenger named “Ron.” The cab was found abandoned nearby.

A medical examiner said she had been raped and stabbed, and bled to death.

Gray left her, naked and bleeding and full of his DNA. She was moonlighting to help support her kids.

Gray was convicted of all these murders and rapes, and a number of lesser included crimes. In addition, there were his state rapes (convicted) and murders (he pled guilty to those).

Against this, we have anti-death-penalty, and pro-Gray pshrink David Armitage testifying (.pdf) that Gray’s crimes should be excused because he had it tough as a child:

Well, he had early in life a fair–fairly substantial socioeconomic depravation [sic], multiple male figures in the home, multiple physical moves, living in substandard–proverty [sic] conditions, circumstances where the electric lights were turned out by the company because bills were not paid, projectal[sic] living, things of this nature – multiple school changes.

Sure, that turns everybody into serial killers.

He had a stepparent at one time who was extremely abusive to his mother and abusive to himself, using belts on him to the point of inflicting injury, drawing blood.

OK, that’s a little less common than just being poor, but what other slings and arrows of outrageous fortune drove Gray to this?

He felt the need to protect his mother from–from this abuse. Lived in a–in a part of Miami that certainly was–was not where you and I would want to live by any means.

So he protects his mama by raping and killing a bunch of other women. If that makes sense to you, You Just Might be a Shrink. (And you probably need to be locked in a room with no doorkob on your side of the door and a nice neoprene wall treatment).

Shorter Armitage (all these quotes are from his testimony in this appeal .pdf), he’s depraved on account of he’s deprived. How does Armitage explain all those people who grew up poor and got a whuppin’ for childhood discipline, like, we dunno, maybe two-thirds of the Greatest Generation of World War II? How does he explain everybody who grew up in a bad neighborhood and goes on to work himself out of poverty and do his best to raise a family? He doesn’t, not until they murder somebody. In fact, Armitage admired the kid:

Curiously enough, in all of this, however, he didn’t succumb to some behaviors that many people in those environments succumb to. He didn’t become a drug abuser; he didn’t become an alcoholic. As far as we know, didn’t become a petty thief…

Sure, he became a serial rapist, sodomizer, and murderer, but he did it sober, and didn’t shoplift between homicides! What a guy! (Except the appeal makes clear that Gray was also a burglar and a thief, other charges on which he was convicted). All in all he was convicted of some forty to fifty felonies, 22 in state court.

It’s easy to have contempt for psychiatrists, as the profession is irresistible to something-wrongniks whose real motive is self-diagnosis. Likewise, the practice of law attracts some unattractive people, Hollywood’s version of law firms notwithstanding. Some are avaricious, some are lustful for power, and some… well, some are attracted to criminals. Others just want to see the world burn, just as much as a Ronald Gray does. One reason Gray still has a positive carbon footprint at Death Sentence Plus ≈29 Years is that some of these particular unattractive people from time to time get elevated to the bench. And they’re always a soft touch for a sob story about a poor misunnerstood serial rapist and killer who has helped the nation by providing lifetime employment for therapists for raped women, and who took a direct hand in reducing overpopulation — by butchering the young and fertile.

Gray, today, in a Leavenworth mugshot.

But Gray’s case got in front of, from his point of view, the wrong judge this week. And the stay, long ago imposed by one of those judges who believes that nothing should hurt the hair on the (probably definitely bald now) head of an aging serial killer, has been lifted.

Gray is now on track to an execution date for the first time in a long time. The Fayetteville Observer:

Earlier this week, Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled the stay was no longer in effect and denied Gray’s request to further block the military from moving forward with the death sentence.

His crimes were committed in 1986 and 1987 on Fort Bragg and near Fairlane Acres Mobile Home Park off Santa Fe Drive.

Gray killed cab driver Kimberly Ann Ruggles, Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay, Campbell University student Linda Jean Coats and Fairlane Acres resident and soldier’s wife Tammy Wilson and raped several other women.

According to a notice filed by an assistant U.S. attorney on behalf of Col. Dawn Hilton, commandant of the disciplinary barracks, officials intend to set a new date and time for Gray’s execution no earlier than 30 days from the date of their notice, which was filed on Nov. 21.

And the Observer article was accompanied by the Leavenworth mugshot you see here, showing that our speculation was correct… Gray now is bald.

27 thoughts on “Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Guy Dep’t

  1. Aesop

    Punishment Fit The Crime Dept.: “Death by having him impaled by a jackhammer anally, until he shall expire.”
    Good enough for his victims, good enough for defendant, and clearly in his case neither cruel nor unusual.

    The line for volunteers to execute said sentence, from among military members or former members alone, would only stretch about two times around Ft. Bragg.

    1. Boat Guy

      I’d gladly stand in that line; if only to be counted in such company, but would gladly do ANY part of such execution assigned.

  2. ToastieTheCoastie

    We have an ongoing case here in Alaska. A couple of teenaged (to be clear, both are white) killed another teenager who was smoking weed with them. First they beat him up, and then drove him half conscious in his own truck to a back road where they executed him with a 9mm. So far the only motive appears to be killing for the thrill.

    Their little group of friends tried to cover for them and helped destroy the evidence. One person eventually came forward when a reward was offered. So they rounded up five of the people involved, and now we know the drill. 3 will get slaps on the wrist in return for testifying against the 2, the 2 will be sentenced to 20 years and get out in 10-15.

  3. Mike_C

    Unbelievable. And rage inducing that this man has been fed, housed and doubtless medically cared for at taxpayer expense all these years. Given that recent photo, did defense not try a “diminished mental capacity on the basis of microcephaly” angle? I realize it’s mainly because the photo was taken from a low perspective, but the guy looks to be Zippy’s sociopathic half brother.

    >stepparent at one time who was extremely abusive to his mother and abusive to himself, using belts on him to the point of inflicting injury
    This is not culturally uncommon, for values of “culture”….

    >Punishment Fit The Crime Dept: Jackhammer
    Nah. Eighteen-inch summer sausage of suitable diameter, with about a hundred 1.5-inch nails stuck in so that the points protrude 1/2 inch, angled about 30 degrees from the long axis of the sausage. Lube (I am not a cruel man), insert per rectum in the “easy” direction until head of sausage reaches splenic flexture. Administer a quart of magnesium citrate (bowel prep) per os. Release from prison.

    I am not sure whether all this would lead to eversion of the colon or just a shredded mess. Guess it depends on how many nails one uses and the density/toughness of the sausage relative to that of the bowel. If he’s lucky, exsanguination’ll kill him. If unlucky, peritonitis secondary to multiple bowel lacerations.

      1. John Distai

        For whatever reason the guy in the picture made me think of Nathan Dunlap’s indefinite stay of execution, granted by Gov. Howdy Doody.

      1. Hognose Post author

        Al T., that makes sense because now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that the wear out date for ERDL was either the beginning or end of FY 87. ISTR we used them after that time for field uniforms and steriles, along with OG 107s.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Actually the reg pre 81 was no part of the mustache could extend beyond the bottom of your lower lip. That explains our SF Fu Manchus and handlebars of that period. In 81 the new reg allowed no hair to touch the lip or to cross an imaginary line between the corners of the nose and the corners of the mouth. If you have a broad nose (Irish, black, etc.) and a small mouth any legal mustache looks like you’re auditioning for a Charlie Chaplin tribute show… or an admire of Austria’s most famous son.

      So they then changed the reg so that it “must not present a chopped off appearance.” That line was not in the original reg, but they suddenly had a bunch of Böhmische Gefreiter clones running around (that was the slur by the Junker officer class that’s usually translated as “Austrian Corporal,” but it actually means “Bohemian [i.s. Czech] PFC”. Except, Hitler really was an Austrian and a corporal!)

  4. Josey Wales

    So, execution is under military jurisdiction? Haven’t had one of those in a while. Firing squad?

    1. Hognose Post author

      Last one was in 1961 by hanging. (Firing squad was used for spies, Werwolf operators, etc. in WWII. There’s videos on Vimeo if not on YouTube).

      Gray will be put to sleep with an injection, like a vet puts down a rabid dog.
      Except that a rabid dog once was something, before it got infected.

      1. 11B-Mailclerk

        “Pentothol push first? I thought you said Potassium push. Whoopsie. That’s gotta hurt.”

  5. Tennessee Budd

    “all those people who grew up poor and got a whuppin’ for childhood discipline, like, we dunno, maybe two-thirds of the Greatest Generation of World War II”…and every single person I knew when I was a kid (I was born in ’65).
    I note that in the ’88 pic, Gray is wearing the same Army BCs that my uncle wore in his boot camp photo in ’73; in the newer pic, he’s wearing the same style glasses I wore in my own USN boot camp pic in, well, ’88. Army must’ve kept the old style for awhile.

    1. Alan Ward

      It took me twenty years to forgive my Dad for the belt whippings I got when I was 10-12 years old.
      I was a mouthy little shit who deserved something, but as I got older I realized that leaving bloody welts on my legs as butt were not it.
      Somehow I’ve refrained from raping and sodomizing multiple victims, inspite of my physical injuries and being at or below the poverty line for most of my youth.
      I wonder if a non U.S. Citizen can push the plunger; I’m willing to be a Whiteback for a short period to get a crack at him.
      #doing the jobs Americans won’t do.

  6. Jim Scrummy

    Unfortunately, this has taken almost 30 years. What sucks that this piece of whale excrement has been allowed to steal my oxygen for all these years. Who votes for hang, drawn and quartered?

  7. Keith

    Hitler’s mustache was cut the way it was because it would interfere with the gas mask he wore in W W I. If you look at other people from that time frame 100 years ago serving in the trenches if they have a mustache you will see there’s cut the same way for the same reason.

    Justice at last for the victims. Jesus can forgive you of anything as long as you honestly ask for that forgiveness however there is still a civil penalty when what you have done violates civil law.

    Part of the problem with society IMHO is the mantra of ‘it’s not your fault, it’s your mother/father/siblings/environment/race/sex/etc. fault’ has become so ingrained in the public psyche that personal responsibility for your own actions has become not PC.

    1. bloke_from_ohio

      We believe that man is essentially good.
      It’s only his behaviour that lets him down.
      This is the fault of society.
      Society is the fault of conditions.
      Conditions are the fault of society.

      -Steven Turner

  8. Nato

    Like your call on the psychiatric self-diagnosis. It’s like they want to find out why they are, as you say, something-wrongniks and go looking for the prevailing sociological trends.

    From what I’ve seen, people who truly want to help others in the way head shrinkers say they do take a morality and often deeper, spirituality line and join the clergy.

  9. Docduracoat

    Personal responsibility has gone extinct
    The Medicare program is now reducing payments to Anesthesiologists if patients smoke on the day of surgery
    I call them the night before and tell them not to smoke
    It is their responsibility to follow ( or not follow) my advice
    But that is not how the government sees it
    I will complain again about how executions have to resemble an anesthetic
    Trained personnel to start I.V.’s, drugs procured, companies refuse to sell Pentothal to prisons, etc.
    Why not just place the condemned in a gas filled but anoxic environment?
    People (sailors and farmers) die all the time entering enclosed spaces, and rescuers are also killed as they cannot detect it is a hypoxic environment
    There is no pain…you keep breathing inert gas then die in 3 minutes.

  10. 2hotel9

    It has long baffled and enraged me that this woman’s family has been unable to find some shitbag Federal prisoner to kill this asshole. He has never uttered a single word of remorse for any of his crimes and has sat through every hour of court time with the same shit eating smirk he shows in the above pic.


    QUALIFICATIONS: NO/ZERO/NIL SF/SO training or experience, but 51 months Jump-Status in “America’s Guard of Honor”, the elite, legendary, near-mythical 82d Airborne Division, beginning in the years of the Mr James E (“Jimmy”) Carter “Hollow Army”.
    It bears mention that this Murderer/Rapist is NOT an Infantryman. He is a Quartermaster Corps Soldier, probably either a Cook (“Food Service Specialist”) in 3d-504th PIR Battalion Mess, or a Supply Clerk.
    He wears no Infantry Blue Fourragere on his Right Shoulder; All Paratroopers of The 82d Airborne Division wear the Red/Green Fourragere de la Croix de Guerre (Deuxieme Brevet), awarded by the French in both World Wars. The Aiguillette (brass “needle) makes a distinct sound as it strikes one’s Wings when walking. And, he wears QMC Collar Brass (Right Lapel) and QMC Regimental Insignia (Crest over Right Pocket). Had no mention he is NOT Combat Arms, although he is Airborne.

    1. Hognose Post author

      He was definitely, absolutely a cook. And some stories say in XVIIIth Airborne Corps, not the 82nd, but in the picture he is wearing the fourragère of the Croix du Guerre and I don’t think that was ever awarded to the corps, just to the 82nd (pre-Airborne) in WWI.

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