Montclair man charged with murder captured in Cuba

James R. Ray III

MONTCLAIR, NJ — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II and Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti announced Nov. 7 that James R. Ray III, 55, of Montclair, has been captured in Cuba and returned to New Jersey to face murder charges for fatally shooting Angela M. Bledsoe, 44, also of Montclair.

“Today we have in custody James R. Ray III, who is charged with the murder of Angela Bledsoe, the mother of his daughter, and the woman with whom he shared a home on North Mountain Avenue in Montclair,” Stephens said. “The defendant was apprehended in Cuba before he could go through customs. Working with our federal and international law enforcement partners we were able to identify him as our suspect and arrange to have him returned to New Jersey. He arrived back in the state last night.”

Bledsoe was pronounced dead at her home in the 300 block of North Mountain Avenue in Montclair at 1:17 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23. On Oct. 22, at approximately 11:48 p.m., Montclair police received a call to make a wellness check at the home. When they arrived, they discovered the victim suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities are charging Ray with murder and weapons offenses. Ray and Bledsoe lived together and had a child in common. The child is in the care of family members.

This case is unique because of the extraordinary cooperation and coordination among local, county, state, national and international law enforcement, Stephens emphasized.

“I want to commend our law enforcement partners at every level for their professionalism and willingness to work with us to successfully bring this defendant back to New Jersey to face justice,” Stephens said.

“The FBI appreciates the cooperation and collaboration by local, state and federal partners, especially the Department of Homeland Security, which have made the return of James Ray III possible,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie said. “This arrest reflects the commitment of the FBI to work with our law enforcement partners around the world to ensure that criminals who try to escape prosecution are forced to answer for the crimes they committed.”

“The return of James Ray is a direct result of the outstanding law enforcement partnerships that HSI shares here in New Jersey,” Homeland Security Investigations-Newark Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael said.

Ray is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday, Nov. 13, before Superior Court Judge Martin G. Cronin to determine if Ray will be detained.

Stephens credited the Montclair Police Department; the Allentown, Pa., Police Department; the New Jersey State Police; the FBI; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Coast Guard; Enforcement and Removal Operations Customs and Border Protection; and U.S. Embassy in Havana for the successful capture of Ray.

The investigation remains active and ongoing. These are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-847-7432.

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