James Ray III: Escape to Cuba & How Did He Die in Jail?

James Ray III Background

James Ray III was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He joined the United States Marine Corps, where he served with distinction. Following his time in the Marines, Ray transitioned to a role in law enforcement, spending two years as a New York City police officer. This phase of his career offered him insights into the legal system and public service.

Seeking to further his education, Ray earned an M.B.A. He then pursued a legal education, a path that led him to a career as an attorney.

Murder & Escape to Mexico and Cuba

Angela Bledsoe, living with Ray and their 6-year-old daughter, met a tragic fate. Ray admitted to her killing, which he claimed was self-defense. The incident occurred when Bledsoe allegedly picked up a gun Ray was cleaning and pointed it at him. Ray reacted by fatally shooting Bledsoe, leaving her in a pool of blood. He then embarked on a complex escape plan that saw him fleeing first to Mexico, then to Cuba, where he was eventually arrested.

The Trial and Conviction

Ray’s trial, held in Judge Verna Leath’s courtroom in Newark, unveiled chilling details of the murder. The jury was exposed to a confession note written by Ray to his brother and a journal penned during his flight to Cuba, which detailed the killing. Bledsoe had been shot four times, indicating a level of violence that went beyond self-defense. The jury, requiring only a few hours, convicted Ray of murder and weapons charges.

Death at the Essex County Correctional Facility

James Ray III’s life came to an abrupt end when he was found unconscious in his cell, leading to his death at University Hospital in Newark after a medical emergency in June 2023. The exact cause of his death remains under investigation, with the Medical Examiner’s Office tasked with determining it. Ray’s demise, occurring while awaiting sentencing, closes a tumultuous chapter marked by crime, flight, and eventual capture. Defense attorneys for James Ray said that he died of a drug overdose.

Ray’s death in jail added to the ongoing concerns about the Essex County Correctional Facility. The facility has been scrutinized following multiple violent incidents, including the 2021 stabbing death of a detainee and the brutal beating of Jayshawn Boyd, which left him comatose. These events highlighted systemic issues within the correctional system and raised questions about inmate safety and facility management.

More 20/20: Diary of a Killer

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Ryan Gill

Ryan is a passionate follower of true crime television programs, reporting on and providing in-depth investigations on mysteries in the criminal world.

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