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Suspect arrested in slaying of missing pair

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

James Knight, also known as Charles Spiess, 32 (MDC)

More than a month after a former prominent Albuquerque lawyer and a woman he was renting a room to were reported missing, police have arrested a suspect in their slayings.

James Knight, 32, also known as Charles Spiess, is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of 70-year-old Eugene Carrell Ray and Zakaria Fry, 28.

According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, after the pair’s deaths, Knight drove Ray’s car and used his credit card to go on a shopping spree, purchasing items police believe were used in dumping the two bodies and hiding evidence.

Ray and Fry were reported missing by relatives after their Northeast Albuquerque home was found smeared with blood. Nobody had heard from either one since Jan. 18.

Their bodies were found a month later stuffed into containers a couple of miles apart in Stanley. The complaint said both died of blunt-force trauma and Ray’s hands had been cut off.

Detectives zeroed in on Knight soon after Ray and Fry disappeared when Ray’s credit cards were used at Walmart and fast food establishments in Albuquerque, according to the criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court.

Eugene Carrell Ray, 70, and Zakaria Fry, 28 (Courtesy APD)

Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Officer Simon Drobik said it appears the three knew one another, and Knight may have even been living with them at the time of Fry and Ray’s disappearance.

Ray, a former assistant attorney general who then opened a family-law practice, was described by his daughter as having a risky lifestyle. She said he routinely allowed people to stay with him who are “on the fringes of society” and most likely “involved in criminal activity,” according to the complaint.

It is unclear why Ray and Fry were killed. Knight has stayed silent since being arrested.

“He lawyered up, which he has every right to do,” Drobik said.

According to the complaint, when police looked at security footage at locations where the credit cards were used, they found footage of Knight shopping while driving Ray’s Mustang.

They released those videos to the media in the hopes of identifying him.

Several Crime Stoppers tips came in identifying Knight as the man in the images, and some tipsters told police he worked as a dancer at an Albuquerque strip club.

Police say they found Knight’s DNA on a crumpled McDonald’s receipt for a Happy Meal in the yard of Ray’s home, and security footage showed him buying that meal from the drive-thru in Ray’s Mustang.

The criminal complaint described Ray’s home as having blood spattered in rooms throughout the house and garage, and evidence that attempts had been made to clean much of it up. Police also found needles and a white powdery substance in the home.

Last week, a rancher found the body of Fry, a transgender woman, inside a garbage bag in a garbage bin. Ray’s body was found in a trunk three miles to the north.

Police say several of the items used to dump the bodies – including black bags, expandable foam and cloths – were “consistent” with items bought by Knight at Walmart.

When police announced their bodies had been discovered, they asked the media not to re-release the security footage of the suspect so as not to spook him.

Knight was arrested Tuesday at Sandia Resort and Casino after someone reported seeing him taking an item from behind a pickup truck. When asked for his name, Knight told police he was homeless and did not have a license. He was booked into jail on charges of concealing his identity.

That’s where he was Wednesday night when police announced he had been charged in Ray and Fry’s deaths.

Ray’s family released a statement saying they are relieved Knight is behind bars and thanking Albuquerque police for getting justice for their father.

Police are now asking anyone who may have seen the three together to come forward.

“We need to get that connection going,” Drobik said. “If they were seen in town, driving around, out partying, whatever.”

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