MILO – About an hour after police allowed the wife of murder victim Joseph Gray to return to the couple’s home on Monday, Janice Gray answered the phone and agreed to talk about how her husband was shot right in front of her.
“Believe it or not, my husband and I sat up watching ‘Forensic Files,’” she said, her voice trembling before she even began to tell the details of her husband’s killing.
Janice Gray, 55, returned home about midnight after working the 3 to 11 p.m. shift as a medical aide in Dover-Foxcroft. She went to bed about 2 a.m., but was awakened more than an hour later in her bedroom by the couple’s dogs barking ferociously.
“It was a different bark – it was a danger bark,” she said.
Her husband, Joseph Gray, 57, apparently had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room.
Gray said her largest dog was staring out the living room window, and she went to look.
“All I saw was a figure with a black jacket on, standing right there at my front door,” she said. “I jumped back, and I said, ‘Joe, there’s someone out there.’
“I saw a spark out the window, and he was shot,” Gray said.
Her husband fell back onto the couch and told her to call for an ambulance.
Then Gray heard another shot.
“That’s all I heard,” she said.
“I dove for my phone and hid on the floor and called 911 and stayed hidden on the floor until state police came,” Janice Gray said. “I kept calling to my husband and he just didn’t answer me, of course.”
Gray said she was scared to death and it seemed to take forever for police to arrive.
“I understand a local policeman arrived right away at my driveway, but he couldn’t come in because they didn’t know where the shooter was,” Gray said.
The officer had to wait for backup before he could proceed onto the property.
Her house had been a crime scene under the command of the Maine State Police for more than 36 hours, but Gray said Monday night that things appeared to be in order when she returned around 6 p.m.
“Finally, they let us back in about an hour ago,” Gray said. “The state police, everyone I dealt with and the detectives were the best. They’re wonderful.”
She said she was unaware of any connection her husband might have had to his killer, Stephen A. Marshall, 20, of North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
She also said she was unsure why Marshall may have targeted her husband.
“All I know is my husband’s gone,” she said. “Shots came in through my living room window, and my husband was taken from me in front of my eyes.”
Janice Gray knew that her husband was a convicted sex offender, but had nothing to say about the conviction other than that the Internet has the potential to be misused.
“There’s obviously good and bad about it,” she said. “I don’t believe [the sex offender registry] should be on the Internet. I believe people should have to contact police.”
She noted that it’s not necessarily the sex offenders who register that people have to worry about, and that the police should spend their time and energy tracking down those who haven’t registered.
“People have all kinds of misconceptions,” she said.
Janice Gray and her husband were the only ones at the home that night.
“That night, the state police rescued me when I was still hiding in my house,” she said. “They whisked me out, and I’ve just been at a friend’s house still in shock. I haven’t been able to come back until today.”
The couple had no children together, but Janice Gray’s son had been visiting a few days before the shooting. Joseph Gray also had a daughter and two grandchildren. Both children now are staying at the house with Janice Gray.
The Grays were married for nine years and moved to Milo from Massachusetts slightly more than two years ago.
“My husband’s originally from Maine,” she said. “We live in the woods in our perfect house.”
Gray described her husband as “an American hero,” adding that at age 19 he served in the Vietnam War.
“He was just a good man,” she said. “I always told him he was a better person than I was.”
Still in shock, Janice Gray is unsure what’s next.
“My husband and I were extremely close,” she said. “We basically just lived for each other.”