David Parker Ray

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David Parker Ray
David Parker Ray.jpg
Ray in custody
Born(1939-11-06)November 6, 1939
DiedMay 28, 2002(2002-05-28) (aged 62)
Other namesThe Toy-Box Killer
Criminal penalty224 years' imprisonment
Victims0 murder convictions, more than 60 murders suspected, 3 tortured and survived
Span of crimes
1957–March 22, 1999
CountryUnited States
State(s)New Mexico
Date apprehended
March 22, 1999

David Parker Ray (November 6, 1939 – May 28, 2002), also known as the Toy-Box Killer,[1] was an American kidnapper, torturer, rapist and suspected serial killer. Though no bodies were found, Ray was accused by his accomplices of killing several women, and was suspected by the police to have murdered as many as sixty women from Arizona and New Mexico while living in Elephant Butte, approximately seven miles north of Truth or Consequences.[2]

Ray soundproofed a semi-trailer, which he called his "toy box", and equipped it with items used for sexual torture. He would kidnap between five and six women a year, holding each of them captive for around three to four months. During this period he would sexually abuse his victims, sometimes involving his dog or his wife (who participated willingly in her husband's crimes), and often torture them with surgical instruments. Then Ray would drug them with barbiturates in an attempt to erase their memories of what had happened before abandoning them by the side of the road.[3][4][5]

Ray was convicted of kidnapping and torture in 2001, for which he received a lengthy sentence, but he was never convicted of murder. He died of a heart attack about one year after his convictions in two cases (the second of which resulted in a plea deal).


During his childhood, David Parker Ray and his younger sister, Peggy, lived with their disciplinarian grandfather.[6] He was sporadically visited by his violent, alcoholic father, who would supply him with magazines depicting sadomasochistic pornography.[7][8] At Mountainair High School, in Mountainair, New Mexico, he was bullied by his peers for his shyness around girls.[2]

Ray's sexual fantasies of raping, torturing, and even murdering women developed during his teenage years.[9] Around this time, his sister discovered his sadomasochistic drawings, as well as pornographic photographs of bondage acts. After completing high school, Ray received an honorable discharge from the United States Army, where his service included work as a general mechanic.[2]

Ray was divorced four times and had two children, including his accomplice, daughter Jesse Ray (born Glenda Jean Ray).[10][11]


Ray sexually tortured and presumably killed his victims using whips, chains, pulleys, straps, clamps, leg spreader bars, surgical blades, electric shock machines, and saws.[12] It is thought that he terrorized many women with these tools for many years with the help of accomplices, some of whom are alleged to have been several of the women he was dating. Inside the torture room, along with numerous sex toys, torture implements, syringes, and detailed diagrams showing ways of inflicting pain, there was a homemade electrical generator which was used for torture.[1]: 3 

A mirror was mounted in the ceiling, above the obstetric table to which he strapped his victims. Ray also put his victims in wooden contraptions that bent them over and immobilized them while he had his dogs and sometimes other friends rape them. He has been said to have wanted his victims to see everything he was doing to them.[1]: 3  Ray often had an audio tape recording of his voice played for his victims whenever they regained consciousness.[1]: 2 

Arrest and investigation[edit]

Ray posed as an undercover police officer and approached Cynthia Vigil in a parking lot.[13] He told her that she was under arrest, for solicitation of prostitution, and handcuffed her. He put her in his trailer and took her to Elephant Butte. After three days of captivity, Vigil escaped from the trailer at Elephant Butte on March 22, 1999.[14][15]

To escape, she waited until Ray had gone to work, and then unlocked her chains. Ray's accomplice, Cindy Hendy, had left the keys on a nearby table before going to another room to speak to someone on the telephone. After Vigil got the keys, Hendy noticed Vigil's attempt to escape and a fight ensued. During the struggle, Hendy broke a lamp on the survivor's head, but Vigil unlocked her chains and stabbed Hendy in the neck with an icepick.[16]

Hendy fell to the floor and Vigil escaped. She fled while wearing only an iron slave collar and padlocked chains. She ran down the road seeking help, which she got from a nearby homeowner, who took her in, comforted her, and called the police. Her escape led officials to the trailer and instigated the capture of Ray and his accomplices.[15]

Police stopped Ray and Hendy, and Ray was taken to jail. After the publicity surrounding the arrest, another victim, Angelica Montano, came forward. She told a similar story and said that she had reported the incident to police, but there had been no follow-up.[1]

Ray had a video of another victim, Kelli Garrett (also called Kelli Van Cleave), which dated from 1996.[17] Garrett ultimately was found in Colorado alive, after police identified a tattoo on her ankle.[1] She later testified that she had gotten in a fight with her husband, and decided to spend the night playing pool with friends. On July 24, 1996, Ray's daughter, Jesse, who knew Garrett, took her to the Blu-Water Saloon in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico, and drugged the beer she was drinking. Garrett had walked to the parking lot when she suffered a blow from behind, which knocked her unconscious.[18]

Ray took her to his trailer and attached a dog collar and leash to her neck. Garrett awoke, but blacked out several times during two days of torture and drugging. During this time, Ray noticed that she was breathing and slashed her throat open. Thinking that he had killed her, Ray dumped her beside a road near Caballo. She was later treated for her injuries at a local clinic. Neither her husband nor the police believed her story. Her husband believed she had been cheating on him the night she was attacked. He sued for divorce, and Garrett moved to Colorado. She was later interviewed on Cold Case Files about her ordeal.[19]

Two other accomplices were uncovered by the investigation: Glenda Jean "Jesse" Ray (Ray's daughter) and Dennis Yancy.[1] Yancy admitted to strangling his former girlfriend, Marie Parker, after Ray had kidnapped and tortured her. Yancy was convicted of second-degree murder and of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and was sentenced to two 15-year prison terms.[1] After that murder, Ray allegedly admitted to having had an accomplice named Billy Bowers, a previous business partner, whom Ray also murdered. The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent 100 agents to examine Ray's property and surroundings, but no identifiable human remains were found.[1]

To prevent women from reporting the crimes, Ray had drugged them with agents to induce amnesia. He made a tape recording of himself telling one woman that the drugs were "sodium pentothal and phenobarbital [sic]". One woman remained uncertain that her recollections of the abuse were anything but nightmares until she was contacted by the FBI. After questioning, she came to remember her mistreatment in increasing detail.[20]


A decision was made to try the cases involving Ray's attacks in three trials: one for his acts against Cynthia Vigil, one for those against Angelica Montano, and one for those against Kelli Garrett. Trial 1 resulted in a mistrial and retrial, with a conviction in the retrial on all 12 counts.[1]: 12  Montano died before trial 2, and there was no conviction. [In trial 3?,] Ray agreed to a plea bargain, in which he was sentenced in 2001 to 224 years in prison for numerous offenses in the abduction and sexual torture of three young women at his Elephant Butte Lake home.[1]: 13  Ray's daughter, Glenda Jean "Jesse" Ray, also was tried on charges of kidnapping; she was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, with an additional five years to be served on probation.[21]

In 1999, accomplice Dennis Roy Yancy (27) was convicted of the strangulation murder of Marie Parker, Elephant Butte, which Ray recorded. Yancy was also charged with kidnapping, two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to 30 years. [16][20][22][23] In 2010, Yancy was paroled after serving 11 years in prison, but the release was delayed by difficulties in negotiating a plan for residence. Three months after his release in 2011, Yancy was charged with violating his parole. He was remanded to custody, where he remained until 2021, serving the rest of his original sentence.[16][20][22][23]

In 2000, Cindy Hendy, an accomplice who testified against Ray, received a sentence of 36 years for her role in the crimes. She was scheduled to receive parole in 2017.[24] She was released on July 15, 2019, after serving the two years of her parole in prison.[25]

On May 28, 2002, Ray was taken to the Lea County Correctional Facility, in Hobbs, New Mexico, to be questioned by state police. He died of a heart attack before the interrogation took place.[26][27]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ramsland, Katherine Ramsland. "David Parker Ray: The Toy Box Killer". TruTV. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Glatt, John (June 17, 2002). Cries in the Desert. St. Martin's True Crime Library. ISBN 0312977565.
  3. ^ "Case 96: The Toy Box (Part 1) - Casefile: True Crime Podcast". Casefile: True Crime Podcast. September 22, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  4. ^ Vernon J. Geberth. Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation: Practical and Clinical Perspectives, 2nd ed. (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2010), Chapter 12, pp. 557-98.
  5. ^ Michael H. Stone & Gary Brucato. The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2019), pp. 203-11.
  6. ^ Glatt, John (April 2007). Cries in the Desert. ISBN 9781429904711. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  7. ^ Greig, Charlotte (July 11, 2017). Serial Killers. Arcturus Publishing. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-78828-464-6. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  8. ^ "Profile of Serial Rapist David Parker Ray". ThoughtCo. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  9. ^ "David Parker Ray CV" (PDF). Maamodt.asp.radford.edu. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 29, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  10. ^ "David Parker Ray" (PDF). Maamodt.asp.radford.edu. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 31, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  11. ^ "Suspect's Daughter Is Arrested in Sex And Torture Case". The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  12. ^ Fielder, Jim (2003). Slow Death. New York: Pinnacle Books. pp. 10, 11 and 28. ISBN 0-7860-1199-8.
  13. ^ "Episode 5 - Survivor Story: Cynthia Vigil". True Consequences Podcast. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  14. ^ Proctor, Jeff (November 19, 2011). "Updated: Victim Tells of Captivity". www.abqjournal.com. Albuquerque, N.M.: Albuquerque Journal. Journal Staff. Archived from the original on January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  15. ^ a b McMahan, Elysia (May 5, 2015). "The Horrifying True Story of a Woman Who Escaped the 'Toy Box Killer'". firsttoknow.com. Archived from the original on January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c I Escaped Death (Season 1, Episode 8). Lair of a Sadist. Discovery Channel.
  17. ^ "Ray Gets 223-Plus Years For Sex Torture". amarillo.com. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  18. ^ "Cold Case Files | "Toy-Box Killer" David Parker Ray - Crime Documentaries". youtube.com. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  19. ^ "Cold Case Files | "Toy-Box Killer" David Parker Ray - Crime Documentaries". youtube.com. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  20. ^ a b c Toy Box: Where The Evil Lurks. MSNBC. May 13, 2012.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 26, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ a b Kim Holland. "Murderer paroled in sex torture case". krqe.com. Archived from the original on May 21, 2010.
  23. ^ a b "NM Court Lookup Case # D-721-CR-199900040". Archived from the original on September 15, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  24. ^ Lysee Mitri. "Suspected killer David Parker Ray's girlfriend readies for release". krqe.com. Archived from the original on October 5, 2017. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  25. ^ "Suspected killer David Parker Ray's girlfriend released from prison". krqe.com. Archived from the original on September 30, 2019. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  26. ^ Glatt, John (2002). Cries in the Desert. Macmillan. p. 276. ISBN 9780312977566. OCLC 49937160.
  27. ^ Fielder, Jim (2003). Slow Death. Kensington Pub. p. 315. ISBN 9780786011995. OCLC 51455524.

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