Prosecutor: Montclair resident James Ray tried to escape to Cuba
By ERIN ROLL
The Montclair man accused of killing his girlfriend and mother of his child at their Montclair home last month crossed into Mexico and then hopped a plane to Cuba where he was arrested at customs.
James Ray, 55, was in custody at the Essex County Jail as of Tuesday, according to correctional facility records. He has been booked on two counts of murder.
However, the exact charges that Ray will face in court were still being finalized as of Wednesday.
Angela Bledsoe, 44, was found with numerous gunshot wounds at the couple's home on North Mountain Avenue on Oct. 23. Authorities had been searching for Ray since that time.
Details of Ray's capture were released during a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Essex County Prosecutor's Office in Newark.
"She was a young mother of a six-year-old child. A brilliant young professional, struck down in the prime of her life," Acting Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II said of Bledsoe.
The other speakers included FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory Ehrie and Homeland Security Special Agent in Charge Michael McCarthy. Also present at the conference were Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson and Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti.
After the killing, Stephens said, Ray allegedly dropped his daughter off with relatives in Pennsylvania. He then traveled to the southwest United States, where he entered Mexico through an undisclosed border crossing. From there, Ray boarded a flight to Cuba.
Authorities from the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency have met with the girl, Stephens said, and she is now in the care of Bledsoe's family.
Investigators had obtained evidence that Ray might try to go to Cuba, said FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory Ehrie. The Interpol issued a Red Notice - an alert to law enforcement agencies in the Interpol's member countries - which allowed authorities to stop Ray before he could go through Cuban customs on Oct. 28. He remained in custody there until the FBI brought him back to the United States on Nov. 6.
"Now, this case is unique because of the cooperation between local, county, state, and federal, and international law enforcement," Stephens said.
Stephens would not comment on reporters' questions on whether police had been called to Ray and Bledsoe's house before, or on a potential motive for the slaying, only that the case was still under investigation at this time.
Jackson made a statment thanking the law enforcement agencies involved for all their work.
"Clearly, this is a case that has disrupted our community, horrified our community," Jackson said. He said he hoped the latest developments would bring some closure to Bledsoe's family and the community.
Ray's first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 13, before Superior Court Judge Martin G. Cronin to determine if he will be be detained. Stephens said the prosecutor's office will be seeking to have Ray held without bail, due to the nature of the crime and his propensity to flee the jurisdiction.
Ray is a lawyer with the law firm Ray and Associates in New York, while Bledsoe had worked in finance.
Bledsoe's funeral was held in Maryland on Friday.
The prosecutor's office issued a statement thanking the Montclair Police Department, the Allentown, Pennsylvania Police Department; the New Jersey State Police; the FBI; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Homeland Security Investigations; the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Embassy in Havana for their aid in the investigation and Ray's capture.