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Exclusive: ATL Homicide cracks murder of John Ray in a case that went cold for 9 years

Tonight on ATL Homicide, our two retired detectives shepherd us through the reopening the cold case murder of Air Force veteran John Ray, which went unsolved for nine years.

The 32-year-old paralegal was found dead in his home in Atlanta back on May 16, 2004, after being stabbed several times in his head and chest, tied up and left for dead.

Ray was so attacked so violently that the blade of the murder weapon was broken off in his body. Police found that his car, TV, and stereo equipment were missing and investigators assumed it was a robbery that had gone badly wrong.

Despite the best efforts of the detectives assigned to the case, it soon went cold and remained so for nearly a decade.

However, Quinn and Velazquez dive deeper into John Ray’s past and discover a secret gay love life. They soon learn that this was no random act of violence or a robbery gone wrong. This was a calculated murder.

John Ray was targeted through a gay dating site by the killer
John Ray was targeted through a gay dating site by the killer

In a 2011 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, Det. David Quinn said: “That same individual escaped capture that night within two miles of the crime scene, less than eight hours after the time John Ray was last seen alive.”

In 2011, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office got an indictment slapped on Torico Montavius Jackson for killing and then robbing Mr. Ray.

Fulton County district attorney’s investigator Marshal English and Atlanta police homicide detective David Quinn of ATL Homicide made up the cold case task force and successfully identified a suspect who was incarcerated for a different crime in the Georgia penal system.

The interviewed Ray’s sister, Jonique Brown, a reenactment shown in our exclusive clip.

In a still from ATL Homicide, the reenacted interview with Ray's sister, Jonique Brown
In a still from ATL Homicide, the reenacted interview with Ray’s sister, Jonique Brown

The twist? English and Quinn, along with detective Velaquez deduced who the likely killer was just weeks before this prime suspect, Torico Jackson, was due to be released from Valdosta State Prison for a separate 2008 armed robbery conviction.

The deceased victim, Mr. Ray was an employee at the Fulton County Conflict Defender’s office, whose private life was enmeshed in this nightmare scenario as the killer used a gay dating site to access Ray who had information which detailed the criminal history of Torico Jackson.

Quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Det. David Quinn said: “John Ray left us a nugget inside his briefcase…And the date on it is May 12, four days before his murder.”  English and Quinn found a Georgia Department of Corrections inmate profile with Jackson’s picture on it, printed on May 12.

Jackson’s inmate profile found on Ray’s work computer during the original investigation was not part of his workload, Quinn also said.
Read our interview with Detectives Quinn and Velazquez!

DNA was discovered on the airbag of Ray’s wrecked car matching Jackson.

Jackson was already in prison for another crime, and the clever police work of ATL Homicide’s Quinn, Velazquez and Mr. English made sure that he was ultimately convicted in September 2013 of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, burglary and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony.

To the relief of the Ray family, Torico Jackson was eventually imprisoned for two life terms plus 25 years.

Tune in tonight as Quinn and Velazquez are redefining the true crime genre with their reenacted one-hour episode and their commentary and voice over that will give answers to cold cases and unsolved dramatic murders in Atlanta.

ATL Homicide airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/9C on TV One.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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