In a remote town in the middle of the desert, a twisted sexual sadist known as the “Toy Box Killer” raped and murdered possibly more than 60 women in a depraved crime spree.
David Ray Parker, a mechanic and state park ranger, built a homemade torture chamber out of a cargo trailer, soundproofed it, and filled it with an array of horrific devices and weapons.
The perverted killer’s crime spree still haunts him almost 21 years after his death in prison.
His years of crime only ended when a naked and bloodied woman with a dog collar and chain around her neck was found near Parker’s home in Elephant Butte, New Mexico, a small town of just 1,400 people about 150 miles south from Albuquerque.
Cynthia Vigil, a 22-year-old sex worker, would be the final victim of the man later dubbed the “toy box killer”.
The name comes from the trailer he had on his property, which he called “Toy-Box”. There he would hold his victims, rape them and abuse them for days with a sickening array of homemade sex toys and instruments of torture.
A sign found on the inside wall of the trailer read “Satan’s Den.”
Cynthia survived after stopping a passing car, and it’s thanks to her that we know exactly what happened in Ray’s House of Secrets.
Born in 1939 in Bellen, New Mexico, about 35 miles south of Albuquerque, David Parker Ray had a twisted upbringing that many suspect turned him into a monster.
His father was a violent alcoholic who abandoned his young family, after which his mother sent him and his sister to live with his grandparents.
Bullied at school for his looks and shyness towards girls, he developed an obsession with bondage and sadomasochism at a young age.
His father fueled his fantasies by buying him violent porn magazines from an early age on the rare occasions he visited his son.
Although Ray was a poor student, he graduated from high school in 1957 and worked as a mechanic in various odd jobs.
After years of wandering, he settled in Elephant Butte where he joined a small underground BDSM scene and frequented secret parties and clubs.
He worked as a janitor for the New Mexico Parks Department in nearby Truth or Consequences, where he often picked up his victims while they were working in bars.
It is not known exactly when Ray began committing his horrific crimes.
Victims returned to his “toy box” were strapped into a makeshift gynecological chair, after which a chilling, pre-recorded message was played to them in Ray’s voice.
In the recording, the patient boasted that he had “raped shit” since he was a teenager.
He even claimed to his first wife that he had kidnapped, tortured and murdered a woman back in 1957 when he was just 17 years old.
In 1986, Ray’s adult daughter, Glenda Jean “Jesse” Ray, told the FBI that her father kidnapped and tortured women before selling them across the border into Mexico.
However, her allegations were never investigated, and shockingly, Ray’s daughter soon became his accomplice in his heinous crimes.
“You won’t remember anything”
In 1997, Ray met Cindy Hendy, a 37-year-old mother of three on the run from police who had abandoned her children and fled across the country.
The two worked together and became both sexual and criminal partners.
Ray trained Hendy to be his accomplice, teaching her how to kidnap and abuse women.
He even created an 18-point instructional guide titled Psychological and Physical Procedures – First Dealing with the Prisoner’s Personal Fetish, which was pinned to the wall of the torture chamber.
His torture chamber was built by Ray for around $100,000.
A mirror on the ceiling above the gynecological table forced the victims to view the heinous crimes.
The women listened to a truly disturbing 45-minute recorded message from Ray.
At the end of the tape, he told the women that he was going to drug them with sodium pentothal and phenobarbitol so they wouldn’t remember what happened.
He assured me coldly: “You won’t remember anything about this little adventure. You will not remember this place, us or what happened to you.”
In 1994, 20-year-old Kelli Van Cleave moved from Kansas City, Kansas to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
She married Patrick Murphy in 1996, but their marriage was strained.
One night after a fight, she went to a nearby bar where she met up with a friend, Jesse Ray, daughter of David Parker Ray.
Jesse drove her to her father’s house where he overpowered Kelli.
He held a knife to her throat, put a dog collar around her neck and covered her face with duct tape.
When Kelli was brought into the toy box, she could see saws, chains, whips, clamps, cattle prods, oil bottles, and metal bars.
Also in the trailer was a medicine cabinet with syringes and chemicals.
The chair could be moved along a 1.80 m long track with a remote control.
There was also a seven foot long coffin with shackles and ventilation holes in which Ray held his victims.
Kelli was tortured for three days before Ray drove her home.
He told her husband that he had seen her walking aimlessly on the beach.
Murphy believed his wife had been drinking or cheating on him and threw her out of the house.
For years she could not remember what had happened, but she was plagued by vivid nightmares.
“Don’t let them catch me!”
On March 22, 1999, passing motorists witnessed a truly terrifying sight.
A young woman ran down the street in the middle of the New Mexico afternoon heat, completely naked save for a padlocked dog collar around her neck, which was attached to a five-foot chain.
She was covered in blood and had a large cut on her scalp.
Although they were obviously in distress, not a single driver stopped to let Cynthia Vigil into their car.
Eventually, she came across a nearby mobile home where Darleene Breech and her husband were watching TV.
Darlene said: “She walked right in wearing nothing but the chains around her neck and crying. She was bloody, very bloody and a very scared girl.”
Cynthia yelled, “Don’t let them get me!”
It was later revealed that Cynthia had escaped after three days of torture at the hands of Ray and his accomplice, Cindy Hendy.
Ray referred to himself as a “sex scientist” and made vivid and disturbing notes on his crimes.
While he was at work, Cynthia was able to escape from the “toy box” and found the keys to get out.
Hendy spotted her and a fierce fight ensued, but Cynthia was able to stab her captor in the neck and escape.
After being picked up by Darlene, who called the police, cops arrived and arrested Ray and Hendy an hour later.
Inside the house, along with Ray’s torture chamber, they found hundreds of videotapes documenting his heinous attacks.
The women’s heads were mostly covered with either tape or some horrible home-made box device.
When news of Ray broke, his victim, Kelli Van Cleave, was separated from her husband and still plagued by nightmares about what happened.
But when her former mother-in-law saw the news, she believed Kelli might have been one of his victims and tipped off the FBI.
Agents who checked the tape found that one of the women on the tapes had a prominent swan tattoo on her leg.
They contacted Kelli and found that she had a tattoo to match.
Videotapes found at Ray’s home showed he had tortured hundreds of women.
In the instructions he prepared for his victims, he claimed to have murdered several women.
He also confessed to his girlfriend how he dumped the bodies of the victims into a nearby reservoir.
Ray also mentioned a number of accomplices in his tape.
He was sentenced to 224 years in prison for kidnapping, raping and torturing three women.
Police now believe Ray may have raped, tortured and murdered up to 60 women in nearly half a century of crimes that ended with his arrest in 1999.
He mainly targeted sex workers, drug addicts and runaways.
It is unknown how many women he killed, as Ray died before FBI agents could properly question him.
On May 28, 2002, Ray died of a massive heart attack at the age of 62 while awaiting interrogation by state police.
Cynthia Vigil later founded the Street Safe New Mexico volunteer group, which works with sex workers and other vulnerable people living on the streets of the state.