"I'm just an average man, with an average life. I work from 9 to 5. Hey, hell I pay the price!" 'Somebody's Watching Me' lyrics by Rockwell/Motown Records
Imagine being accused of the most heinous of crimes; the sexual assault of your own children. Imagine being tried, convicted, and receiving a sentence of 212 years for this crime. Two life sentences plus 14 years, the maximum allowed by law. Now imagine that you are a police officer facing this exact situation. It’s almost a guaranteed death sentence. Meet Dr. Ray Spencer, the victim behind the story of one of the most corrupt investigations in Washington state history.
Ray Spencer was, by his own admission, a ladies man. His preferred type was that of the well developed blonde bombshell. An attractive man himself, he never lacked for companionship, even while married. Ray Spencer was also at different points in his life a military air traffic controller, a sky marshal, and a police officer. He had spent his entire adult life ensuring the safety of the public in one form or another. He openly states he was not a good husband. He provided a home, brought home his paycheck, and made sure his family had everything they needed. He wasn’t a bad man, he just wasn’t a faithful one. He carries the guilt of that to this day. While perhaps not a devoted husband, he was a devoted father. Having grown up with an abusive alcoholic father himself, he was determined to be better for his own children. His children were, and still are, part of the bedrock that his entire world rested on. Separation from his children was the hardest part of his divorce, and he treasured the limited amount of time he got to spend with them.
Today Ray is married to Norma, the one woman he ever truly loved. He is faithful, and a good husband. It was a long road to get here, though. It was a road that cost him his career, his freedom, his children, and his dignity. It’s safe to say he is not the same man he once was. He’s a better man now, and a better husband. The one thing that hasn’t changed at all is that Ray Spencer is, and always has been, an innocent man.
(Author’s note: Throughout this series, you will only see the title of detective used in regards to Sharon Krause and Michael Davidson once. The reason for this is simple. Their behavior throughout not only the course of the investigation, but also after Ray Spencer’s conviction, remove any honor from that title. It is a title that they are not deserving of.)
The summer of 1984 would change Ray Spencer’s life forever. Ray was married to Shirley Morgan at that time. She was a woman of mercurial temperament, something he had grown accustomed to early on in the marriage. So when she gave Ray the silent treatment during the week he was attending a police conference in Seattle, it raised no red flags. Sadly for Ray, the week of the conference was also the last week he had his children for the summer, and ultimately for the next 22 years.
Upon his return home, Shirley told Ray of a troubling incident with his daughter. The night before the children were to return to California, Shirley alleged that Katie had placed Shirley’s hand between her legs. She told Shirley her mommy, daddy, and brother all do this to her, so she wanted Shirley to as well. Needless to say Ray was alarmed, and immediately set out to notify authorities in both Washington and California. He alerted everyone from Child Protective Services to his superiors in his own department. As a vigilant father, Ray wanted to leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of this disturbing behavior. As a good father, it never once occurred to him that he would be blamed for acts far more horrific before the investigation was complete.
Authorities in Sacramento, California investigated the complaint. They spoke to Katie and also to Ray’s ex-wife DeAnne, and quickly concluded the complaint was without merit. As far as the state of California was concerned, the case was closed. Back up in Washington however, the investigation was about to take a sinister turn for the worse. Sharon Krause was a young, up and coming detective with a desire to make a name for herself. Unfortunately for Ray Spencer, she was the person assigned to investigate this complaint.
Krause began making trips to Sacramento to talk to the children and to Ray’s ex-wife. To say her investigatory technique was questionable is being generous. Other, better descriptors come to mind; appalling, predatory, intimidating, coercive, dishonest, manipulative and despicable are just a few. Krause virtually laid siege to Ray’s children for over 8 months, plying them with candy, ice cream, toys and gifts, followed by hours alone in her hotel room. During those hours, no notes were taken, and no recordings made.
In fact, no one can really say what transpired in those hours long visits behind closed doors. Krause was trying to build a case against Ray Spencer, but nobody could really say how legitimate that case was, even then. One method employed was to tell DeAnne that Ray was suspected of being the Green River killer. This inflammatory type of communication had to have greatly colored DeAnne’s view of Ray. You could safely assume the feelings this created had to have filtered down, at least in some small part, to his children.
Katie was the first to break. At 5 years old, she began detailing horrific, brutal sexual assaults. They were the type that would leave scars, both mentally and physically. It took Matt longer to talk. Originally he denied every allegation of abuse, and was steadfast in that denial. Not one to be deterred, Krause slowly ramped up the pressure on Matt. Her desire to have him corroborate his sister’s claims became a sort of never-ending harangue that Matt couldn’t escape from.
When the verbal pressure wasn’t enough, Krause finally resorted to virtually threatening Matt with a lie detector test. An 8 year old boy has no idea what that might include. There is no record of these talks with Matt, so nobody knows how it was presented to him. What became clear was that the thought of this test so terrified him that he would tell them anything he thought they wanted to hear. His tale of abuse was so fantastical that it was literally unbelievable. Matt went from denying any abuse to claiming dozens of police officers were in on it.
Krause’s plan had backfired, but it didn’t stop the witch hunt she was on. She wanted Ray Spencer charged, and she was determined to make that happen. She was so determined that she even hid exculpatory evidence. Videos and medical reports exonerating Ray Spencer were not found until decades later. She had the full support of her supervisor, Michael Davidson. He had his own reasons for assisting in this charade of an investigation. He had begun an affair with Ray’s current wife, and obviously, Ray was an obstacle. This was one way to remove that obstacle.
Once Ray was named as the suspect in the investigation, he was placed on administrative leave from the Vancouver Police Department. That was certainly bad, but it was about to get much, much worse. On January 2, 1985, Ray Spencer was terminated from his job with the police department against the advice of representatives from the Fraternal Order of Police.
On January 3, he was arrested and charged with the rape of his daughter. He was released on his own recognizance. His marriage to Shirley fell apart, and Ray moved to a hotel. Within a couple of weeks, Shirley showed up with her son little Matt, and asked if he could stay the night with Ray. In retrospect, he probably should have been suspicious. He definitely should have refused. Wanting to believe that Shirley knew he was not sexually assaulting his daughter, he agreed. After all, what mother would willingly leave their child with a known child molester, right?
On February 28, 1985 Ray Spencer was once again arrested, this time for sexually molesting his step-son. The hope that Shirley believed him innocent was immediately and brutally crushed. Instead, he now saw that request to spend the night for what it was, a setup. It was a ploy to pad a weak case and prop up a failing investigation.
It was 100% effective and successful.
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