Attractions December 07, 2017
The Story Of The Serial Killer Who Terrorized This Small New Mexico Town Is Truly Frightening
In 2001, David Parker Ray was convicted of kidnapping and torturing women in the tiny town of Elephant Butte. He is also suspected of murdering up to 60 women, although no bodies have ever been found. This sadistic man escaped his fate, though; he died of a heart attack about one year after his convictions in two cases.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
The City of Elephant Butte is home to approximately 1,400 people. The quiet little town in southern New Mexico is located west of Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico's largest lake. The town backs up to a state park and is surrounded by vacant land. Those features made this location ideal for notorious criminal David Ray Parker to park his $100,000 trailer filled with instruments of torture, which he called "the toy box."
Ray made his victims listen to a video recording in which he described in detail what he planned to do to the women. He warned them to cooperate or face even worse torture.
Ray picked up women at the Blue Waters Saloon, a dive bar that was popular among drifters and locals, and lured them to to his soundproofed trailer. The "toy box" was filled with surgical tools, video cameras and a gynecological chair that Ray had wired to shock his victims. Ray spent $100,000 equipping the trailer with elaborate torture devices.
Ray claimed "trophies" from his victims such as clothing and jewelry. This necklace is just one of more than 400 items of jewelry and clothing the FBI posted photos of on its website. They hoped that by showing the public the items, someone might recognize them and come forward.
Ray and his female accomplices, at one time including his own daughter, Jesse Ray, preyed on prostitutes.
Cynthia Vigil, one of Ray’s torture victims, escaped from the Toy Box on March 22, 1999, after Ray tortured her for three days. When Ray left for his job as a maintenance man for the New Mexico Parks Department, Vigil took the keys to her chains from Ray’s accomplice and girlfriend, Cindy Hendy. They scuffled, but Vigil managed to stab Hendy in the neck and run away. She was wearing only an iron collar around her neck and padlocked chains. A nearby resident gave Vigil a robe and called 911. Ray and Hendy were arrested.
In 2000, Kelly Van Cleve testified that she had gone to Ray's home with his daughter in 1996. She said she was blindfolded, and a knife was held to her throat and duct tape placed over her eyes before she was taken to the Toy Box. After Ray’s arrest, police found a graphic video that Ray had made as he assaulted Van Cleve.
No bodies were ever found, no other victims were identified and no deaths were ever officially connected to Ray. In 2002, the Toy Box was opened to the public with the hope that it would lead to more surviving victims coming forward. In 2011, the FBI performed a search of McRae Canyon near Elephant Butte Lake to look for potential victims but found none. The Toy Box remains at the FBI office in Albuquerque.
For more chilling details about David Parker Ray’s gruesome crimes, see this YouTube video
by “Bullet proof.” VIDEO
Do you remember seeing news reports in the late 1990s about this monster? Read about
another small New Mexico town with a creepy past. It’s related to paranormal activity, though, not serial killers.