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Cries in the Desert: The Shocking True Story of a Sadistic Torturer

Cries in the Desert: The Shocking True Story of a Sadistic Torturer

Автор John Glatt

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Cries in the Desert: The Shocking True Story of a Sadistic Torturer

Автор John Glatt

4/5 (22 оценки)
305 страниц
4 часа
1 апр. 2007 г.


In the fall of 1999, a twenty-two-year-old woman was discovered naked and bleeding on the streets of a small New Mexico town south of Albuquerque. She was chained to a padlocked metal collar. The tale she told authorties--of being beaten, raped, and tortured with electric shock--was unthinkable. Until she led them to 59-year-old David Ray Parker, his 39-year-old financee Cindy Hendy--and the lakeside trailer they called their "toy box". What the FBI uncovered was unprecedented in the annals of serial crime: restraining devices, elaborate implements of torture, books on human anatomy, medical equipment, scalpels, and a gynecologist's examination table. But these horrors were only part of the shocking story that would unfold in a stunning trial...

Cries in the Desert is the true story of "The Toy Box Killer"--a shocking story of torture and murder in the New Mexico desert.

1 апр. 2007 г.

Об авторе

English-born JOHN GLATT is the author of more than twenty-five books including The Lost Girls and My Sweet Angel, and has over thirty years of experience as an investigative journalist in England and America. He has appeared on television and radio programs all over the world, including Dateline NBC, Fox News, ABC’s 20/20, BBC World News, and A&E Biography.

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Cries in the Desert - John Glatt


Nothing ever happens in Elephant Butte, a tiny lakeside community in the middle of the New Mexico desert. And that is the main attraction of the sleepy town for the 2,500 mainly elderly residents. Lying seven miles from the nearest traffic light in neighboring Truth or Consequences, the pace of life is reassuringly slow. People come to escape the stresses of the city and the northern winters, seeking tranquility and warm weather at budget prices.

A hundred years ago Apache chiefs Geronimo and Cochise fought the early white settlers along the banks of the Rio Grande. But today a jumble of trailer homes and caravans lazily dot a handful of roads and dirt tracks, spreading out from Elephant Butte Lake, resting in the sharp shadows of the Sierra Mountains.

With its intense blue waters set against the rich red desert, the lake is like a shimmering mirage. Each summer more than a hundred thousand tourists come to sail and picnic in the tranquil park around it, making it one of New Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations.

But at 3:15 p.m. on Monday, March 22, 1999, Elephant Butte changed forever when a terrified woman, wearing only a padlocked metal collar with a five-foot length of chain trailing in her wake, burst out of a double-wide trailer into the street. Momentarily blinded by the harsh desert sun, 22-year-old Cynthia Vigil ran for her life like a hunted animal. Covered in blood from a deep head wound, her body was black-and-blue from days of beatings and vicious torture. Nothing but pure fear and instinct drove her along the dirt road track. Her only thought was putting as much space as possible between her and the horrors of the white trailer.

In the three days since being kidnapped off an Albuquerque street, Cynthia had lost all track of time, and had no clue of her whereabouts. She had been whipped, electrocuted and sexually abused by an elderly man named David and his younger fiancée, Cindy, in a bizarre chamber of horrors they called the Toy Box.

Finally she had managed to escape, after beating the woman senseless with an ice pick. Now, as she ran barefoot down Bass Road, past an assortment of prefabricated houses and recreational vehicles, there was not a soul in sight.

As she frantically turned right down a narrow hill toward the lake, a teal-blue Chrysler Concorde drew up behind her, slowing down to turn right onto Lakeside Road. Cynthia screamed for help, but nothing came out of her mouth. The driver, a local retiree named Doris Mitchell who had just been grocery shopping in Truth or Consequences, was so alarmed as the hysterical naked girl tried to open her car door and get in, that she locked it. Then she hit the accelerator, driving off down Lakeside Road as fast as she could.

She was wild and scared-looking, Mitchell would later remember, and just running around in circles. I saw all the chains on her and the blood. At first I thought someone was chasing her, but I didn’t see anyone.

Almost immediately another car appeared from the opposite direction. Again Cynthia jumped out in front of it, trying to flag it down. The startled driver had to swerve to avoid her and then drove off, leaving her in a cloud of dust.

Suddenly on the left, on Hot Springs Landing Road, she spotted a smart, double-wide mobile home, with a manicured grass garden and a covered porch. Its air of respectability made it stand out from the other trailers and caravans.

Seeing the front door open, Cynthia ran up the garden path and barged straight in, to the astonishment of Darlene Breech, who was sitting in the living room, watching television.

Please help me! Don’t let them get me! she begged, bursting into tears and double-locking the front door behind her.

She came straight in wearing nothing except the chains around her neck, and was crying, Darlene would recall later. She was bloody, very bloody, and was a very terrified girl.

Stunned, Darlene immediately called 911 and took the sobbing girl into her bedroom, where she covered her with a pink robe and tried to calm her down.

A few minutes later Sierra County Sheriff’s Deputy Lucas Alvarez and his partner David Elston arrived. Cynthia greeted the two by running out of the bedroom and throwing herself at their feet.

I’m alive! I’m alive! I’m alive! she screamed triumphantly. I broke free! I broke free!

She was terrified, said Alvarez. She was naked and just covered with blood with this collar and chain around her neck. There was splattered blood on her face and her teeth.

Through sobs she told the officers how she had been kidnapped and imprisoned by a man and a woman in Albuquerque the previous Saturday morning. The two officers listened in disbelief as she described being used as a sex slave, and raped, tortured and brutalized in unimaginable ways.

Alvarez then drove her to Sierra Hospital in Truth or Consequences, as Deputy Elston went off to investigate a suspicious 911 hang-up call just three blocks away on Bass Road. That call had been received by Central Dispatch at 3:24 p.m., just minutes before Darlene Breech had made hers.

The dispatcher had traced the number to 513 Bass Road and called back. A woman had answered, but denied making the call, saying that there was nothing wrong. But the dispatcher was suspicious, and asked Deputy Elston to check it out.

When the officer arrived at the Bass Road address, he noticed a carved wooden sign outside, announcing it as the residence of DAVID P. RAY.

Venturing through the gate, which was surrounded by a six-foot-high fence, he noted the main green-and-white mobile home set back, flanked on either side by several sheds, a bait trailer and the remains of some old boats. About thirty feet away was a smaller windowless white cargo trailer, with an air-conditioner unit on the outside.

The mobile home’s sliding glass back door was unlocked, so, after getting no response from the bell, Deputy Elston drew his gun and went inside to search for endangered persons.

He walked down a hallway, leading to a bedroom halfway along the spacious trailer, which had several add-ons. But as he entered the bedroom he stopped in his tracks, seeing blood smears on the white tangled sheets, and broken glass everywhere. But even stranger was what appeared to be a coffin, lying along one wall beside a collection of large rubber dildos, perched on a trophy stand.

Looking up he saw several half-inch steel rods bolted to the ceiling, supporting a sophisticated set of pulley devices, fashioned out of heavy chains. Attached to it were assorted clamps and weights, which could be slid across the room. He felt nauseous as he noted the neatly handprinted labels on them, reading, ANKLE SPREADER and KNEE SPREADER.

Feeling sick to his stomach, Deputy Elston rushed out of the trailer to summon back-up.

A few minutes later, David Parker Ray and his fiancée Cindy Lea Hendy were stopped by police several blocks away, driving a shabby RV. They didn’t put up a fight as four officers with guns drawn ordered them to lie face down on the street, where they were arrested and handcuffed.

Ray, a grizzled, lanky, mustached 59-year-old mechanic for the Elephant Butte Lake State Park motor pool, was still neatly dressed in his green park ranger’s uniform. Cindy, a petite 39-year-old blue-eyed blonde, was covered in blood from a deep cut to the back of her head.

As police placed the couple in a squad car, several curious neighbors came out of their trailers to watch the commotion. They were amazed to see that nice, helpful park ranger and his girlfriend in handcuffs, being taken into custody.

But these arrests were just the beginning of a nightmare of torture and suspected serial murder that would shake Elephant Butte to its very roots, making the once-quiet town synonymous with evil.

Residents would soon discover that peace of mind in Elephant Butte was an illusion, and nothing was what it seemed.

Chapter One


David Parker Ray was born on November 6, 1939, in the tiny desert town of Belen, New Mexico. From the beginning he faced an uphill struggle with an often violent father who drank heavily. It was a tough, punishing childhood that mirrored the Rio Grande Valley’s forbidding terrain.

His paternal grandfather Ethan Ray (not his real name) had come to the Abo Pass in the 1920s, homesteading a few acres of arid land outside Mountainair, thirty miles west of Belen. Like many other impoverished ranchers, he had been drawn to this inhospitable valley by the Early Day Homestead Act of 1889, which had attracted pioneering spirits to large areas of Central New Mexico.

In 1891, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad linking Kansas City to Santa Fe announced plans to build a cut-off to Belen through the Abo Pass, thereby guaranteeing a new prosperity to the town.

On hearing about these new opportunities out West, adventurous Kansas City newspaperman John Corbett and his friend Colonel E. C. Manning bought a prime site beside the projected railroad route at the summit of the six-thousand-five-hundred-foot pass. Local legend has it that they were so enchanted by the summer breeze wafting off the overhead mountains, they named it Mountainair.

In the summer of 1903 Mountainair was officially incorporated into a town, nine years before New Mexico was granted statehood. Construction of the Belen Cut-off to Mountainair was temporarily delayed by the first Wall Street crash of 1903. But four years later, the economy improved and the first passenger trains finally started rolling through the Abo Pass.

In its early days Mountainair did not have an adequate water supply for its growing population. So the first settlers hauled barrels of water eight miles into town from Barranca Canyon Wells, before wells were finally dug three hundred feet deep into the foothills outside town.

By the time former miner and geologist Ethan Ray claimed his patch of land, twenty miles outside Mountainair in Socorro County, the town was flourishing, proudly proclaiming itself the Pinto Bean Capital of the World. Ethan and his wife and two sons, Cecil and Alton, built the ranch with their bare hands, eking out a living raising cows. But the Rays mainly kept to themselves, having little to do with their neighbors, the nearest living ten miles away.

The Rays lived deep in the rural backwoods, four miles away from the nearest highway between Brook Spring and Dripping Stream. And once a week they drove the twenty-five miles into Mountainair in their ramshackle old truck to pick up essential supplies.

Opportunities were few for young men growing up in New Mexico during the Great Depression, and the two younger Rays left home at the earliest opportunity to make their ways in the outside world.

Alton Ray was a wheeler-dealer who lived on his wits, buying and selling goods he picked up on his frequent visits to Alaska. He would leave his wife Mildred for months at a time on secret trading expeditions, arriving back in Mountainair flushed with money and gifts for everyone.

In the mid-1930s his brother Cecil left home and followed the Abo Pass Trail to Belen, where he married a local girl named Nettie Opal Parker. Having little money or prospects, Cecil moved into Nettie’s parents’ tiny ranch, deep in the hills south of Schole, west of Mountainair.

In late 1939 Nettie bore Cecil a son they named David, followed a year later by daughter Peggy. But Cecil, a heavy drinker, had a restless spirit and would vent his frustrations on his wife and two young children.

His dad had a temper, remembered Audie Miranda, who was David’s best friend growing up. I heard some things about his dad, but I don’t want to repeat them.

When he had been drinking, Cecil Ray could be violent at the least provocation. Eventually when David was ten years old, his father walked out, moving to Albuquerque and divorcing Nettie.

It was a traumatic time for the Ray children, who rarely saw their father again until they were grown up. And when Nettie Parker decided to remain with her parents, David and Peggy were shipped off to Mountainair, to be raised by their grandparents.

Known to everyone as Old Man Parker, Ethan Ray, then in his late sixties, was a strict disciplinarian who insisted on the highest standards of dress and behavior. The kids were expected to do ranch work before they left for school in the morning and when they returned at night. But although money was short, their grandmother always made certain the children were clean and neatly turned out in their hand-me-downs.

We were raised real old-fashioned, Peggy would remember many years later. You don’t even think about lying about things.

Every morning their grandfather would drive David and his pretty red-haired sister four miles to the main road in his battered old Chevy coupe. Then he would leave them to wait for the 7:30 a.m. school bus to take them twenty miles to Mountainair High School.

Tall for the age of twelve, David appeared nervous and vulnerable when he joined Mountainair High in the seventh grade. The fair-haired boy rarely spoke and was the object of some ridicule, as his grandfather insisted he always have his shirt buttoned right up to the top, unlike the other boys, who had theirs unbuttoned. And David soon found himself bullied by his schoolmates.

I used to defend him, because the other kids would pick on him, remembered Audie Miranda, who lived on the neighboring ranch to the Rays. He was very docile, and even though he could defend himself, he didn’t believe in violence.

One day on the school bus someone pushed David too far, and he finally lashed out.

[I said] ‘leave him alone,’ said Miranda. ‘You don’t know him.’ They were pulling his hair, and he just turned around and tried to hit them back.

When the bus driver saw what was happening, he immediately stopped the bus and broke up the fight. But the incident led to a close friendship between David and Audie, who began to play together between classes.

They were soon spending weekends together at the Ray Ranch, riding horses, playing cowboys and Indians or having extended games of hide and seek in the desert.

Even as a young boy, David craved the outdoor life, collecting stones and fossils or anything else that caught his interest.

But Audie always felt that his friend was deeply affected by his grandparents’ harsh upbringing. They were devout Christians who instilled fundamentalist religion into David and Peggy. And Old Man Parker wouldn’t hesitate to beat the Ray children if they didn’t live up to his high standards.

His grandfather was very, very strict, said Miranda, who was also frightened of him. He came from the old school where you had to be tough to survive. If his grandfather wanted David to do something, he’d jump. Maybe in today’s terms he was abusive, but we called it being strict.

During the six years David and Peggy lived at their grandparents’, their father only visited twice. Nettie would occasionally come to see them, but there seemed few maternal bonds between her and her children.

Looking back, Peggy recalled that her elder brother could be ornery at times, but she still has fond memories of their childhood together.

He was a loner, said Peggy. He spent a lot of time to himself. We lived way out in the country, so really it was just the two of us. Not a lot of friends or anything. We got along pretty good.

When David was thirteen, his life changed when his grandparents gave him a Cushman Pacemaker motor scooter. He soon discovered a natural gift as a mechanic, and before long he could take it apart and then reassemble it. The once-timid boy gained a new confidence in life, as the school friends who had once mocked him now needed him to service their bikes.

Suddenly brimming with confidence, David claimed that then-current teenage American music heartthrob Johnny Ray was his cousin.

He would try and convince me of it, but I never believed it, said his former school friend, Bill Huckabay.

Even as a young teenager there was a far more sinister side to David Ray—one that would have shocked his friends and family. Years later he would impassively tell an FBI criminal profiler how he had first been drawn to the shadowy world of sadomasochism and torture at the age of thirteen. Even as a virgin he had begun to fantasize about the delights of tying women up and then torturing them.

His sister Peggy says she first discovered her older brother’s strange fascination with bondage after finding some pornographic photos and drawings hidden in his room. But when she confronted him with it he just laughed, saying it was his new hobby. Not considering it a problem, she never asked him about it

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  • (5/5)
    I have to say after reading this book an seeing the case unfold especially for the victims I was very relieved to know they had gotten their justice. But seeing what this man did made my stomach turn an appalled me . How can someone do that to another human being ... the case in this book was interesting an very explicit
  • (4/5)
    I don't remember why I picked up this book; perhaps it was because I had read another true crime book by this author and figured I'd see what else he had. I certainly don't remember hearing about this case before, which isn't surprising, since I pretty much cut television out of my life at about this time. The crime is horrifying; David Parker Ray abducted and brutally raped and tortured young women in the New Mexico desert, along with his partner (Cindy Hendy), friend (Roy Yancy), and perhaps his daughter (Jesse Ray). He's also suspected of being a serial killer, but no identifiable bodies were found that could be linked to him.The book itself has a fairly good pace, although the author tends to repeat himself and treads a very fine line between shocking and overly salacious. Still, that's kind of the purpose of these true crime paperbacks, right? As for the crimes, well, they're horrible and will definitely stay with me for a while.