The Horrors of David Parker Ray, the Toy Box Killer

There are many infamous serial killers, each known for their sick and twisted crimes. 

David Parker Ray’s modus operandi, or MO for short, was to sexually assault, torture, and then drug women. Although he was never caught, he was believed to have murdered dozens of women. 

He was known as the “Toy Box Killer” for the location of his sadistic acts. 

Due to a heart attack, he only served one year of his sentence before he died. But he left a disturbing legacy that still haunts the American Southwest. 

David Parker Ray

The Mask of Normalcy

Born on November 6, 1939, in Belen, New Mexico, David Parker Ray suffered the typical childhood of a psychopath. 

He suffered at the hands of a violent, alcoholic father who introduced him to sadomasochistic pornography and was ostracized and bullied by children his age. Due to poor living conditions with his mother, he was largely raised by extremely strict grandparents, adding to his desire for deviance. 

By the time he was a teenager, his sexual deviance became clear. He began drawing his sadomasochistic desires. When his sister stumbled upon them, she refused to talk to him again. 

He began sexually assaulting young women early on in his life. He even claimed to have murdered a young woman in 1957. 

After graduating from high school he served in the US Army until he earned an honorable discharge. He then began maintenance work which he would continue to do until his death. 

Police suspect that Ray was criminally active for years before his first confirmed abductee. He developed a drug and alcohol habit when he was young and bragged about how he would violate and hurt women throughout his life. 

Ray even told his first wife that he had first captured, tortured, and killed a woman in 1957 by tying her to a tree. Police were never able to confirm whether it was true or not, but if it is, then Ray was committing heinous acts for over forty years.

Unconfirmed criminal activity would come to be a staple of Ray’s legacy.

The Toy Box Unveiled

His long history of violence was not known until he was finally caught in 1999 when one of his victims escaped. Cynthia Vigil had been kidnapped by Ray and taken to his “Toy Box.” 

The Toy Box was a semi-trailer that Ray had spent an estimated hundred thousand dollars renovating to turn into the perfect sexual torture chamber. The trailer was thoroughly soundproofed. He also had a gynecologist-type chair that his victims would be strapped into. 

Hanging on the walls were sex toys, rope, torture tools, and more, including graphic diagrams and explanations of the tortures that awaited its victims. Ray had meticulously designed the space to cater to his sadistic desires

It even included a handmade wooden box to cover the heads of his captives and terrorize them. 

A view of the inside of his trailer, including the chair and the objects hanging on the walls that he would use on his victims.

The Methodical Madness

Ray was a methodical criminal. He took specific steps to capture and inflict specific pain on each of his victims. 

He would meet victims at various bars in Elephant Butte, New Mexico, near his job. This is where he would abduct them and take them back to his Toy Box. 

Once inside the Toy Box, victims would be subjected to unspeakable acts of violence, torture, and sexual abuse. Sometimes Ray’s girlfriend Cindy Hendy or his dog would participate. 

He would record what he did to his victims and playback the audio during subsequent sessions, which served to dehumanize the victims further. He wanted to remind them of the heinous acts they had already survived and completely destroy any hope of survival or assistance. 

He would then either kill his victims, or drug them heavily so that their memories would be foggy, He would then abandon them out in the desert. 

The Role of Accomplices

Ray was a monster alone. But, what is worse is that he had, at times, accomplices to his sick and twisted crimes. 

Alongside his partner and dog, Ray also enlisted the help of his daughter, Glenda Ray, and her friend, Dennis Roy Yancy. To have this many people involved in his crimes added a level of complexity to the nature of the Toy Box. 

Ray was able to keep his activities under wraps for at least a decade, if not longer, while still involving a handful of people. This in part may have worked because of Ray’s paranoia. 

Yancy would later recall that they had buried a body together, and when he took police to the site the body was gone. It is assumed that Ray returned to the site and moved the body as a way to assure he would not get caught if one day Yancy had a change of heart. 

Glenda also attempted to warn the police of his activity at one point. But her description was so vague that no investigation was ever engaged.

The Capture and Legal Proceedings

Cynthia Vigil’s escape in 1999 marked a turning point in the pursuit of justice for David Parker Ray’s victims. 

On March 22, Hendy left the keys to Vigil’s handcuffs close to the chair she was tied to and Vigil saw her opportunity. Lunging for the keys, she removed her chains and overpowered Hendy, escaping into the desert naked. 

She stumbled upon a trailer where the owner took her in and called the police. The police came and rapidly apprehended the sadistic couple. 

With Ray caught, other victims began to emerge and testify against Ray. This included Angelica Montano who had been found drugged on the side of the highway in the desert years before. 

Survivor, Cynthia Vigil. Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal

Without any specific details to recall (Ray commonly used barbiturates to cause memory loss in his victims if he released them) there was never a follow-up on her case. But with Ray in custody, Montano was able to step forward. 

Kelli Garrett also came forward, claiming she had been abducted, assaulted, and left for dead in an attempted murder. She had gotten in a fight with her husband and spent a night playing pool at a bar, where she was drugged and taken to the Toy Box. 

Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Ray maintained a stoic demeanor throughout the trial. Ray was clearly guilty, but to what extent is unknown. 

It is believed he killed as many as sixty women over the course of his criminal career. But he was never able to be convicted of murder as almost none of the remains were ever found. 

The Trial and Sentencing

His lack of remorse and the graphic details that emerged during the proceedings shocked even seasoned investigators and legal professionals. It proved, without a doubt, that the sexual charges brought against him were valid.

Despite the evidence, the trial was kneecapped as the judge forced all three women to hold trials separately. This hindered their ability to corroborate each others’ stories, leaving much of the evidence circumstantial. 

The judge also ruled out much of the evidence from the trailer as admissible for two of the cases. He claimed that all sex was consensual, which led to juries doubting the validity of the women’s stories. 

In 2002, David Parker Ray was sentenced to 224 years in prison, the result of a plea deal that negotiated a lighter sentence for his daughter. He died just months later of a heart attack at 62 years old, escaping nearly any punishment for his heinous crimes. 

Ray, right, with his lawyer during the court proceedings. Getty.

His daughter was sentenced to just a 30-month sentence with a five-year probation. Hendy received a 36-year sentence for turning on Ray. She was placed on parole in 2019. 

Yancy, who admitted to a murder, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. While he received parole in 2011, he quickly violated it and was returned to prison, where he served his sentence until he was released in 2021. 

Conclusion: Confronting the Darkness Within

David Parker Ray, the Toy Box Killer, remains a haunting figure in part because of the unconfirmed extent of his crimes. 

His own accounts and journals found by police outline dozens of heinous crimes committed against women. But no other evidence has ever surfaced to support these claims. 

In a legal system that requires hard evidence to confirm guilt, monsters like Ray get to walk free. His surviving victims at least got to see him sentenced, even if he died almost immediately, possibly providing closure for their trauma. 

Their willingness to come forward also inspires other victims to advocate for themselves. One survivor, Vigil, even founded a nonprofit that assists sex workers with the violence inherent to their jobs. 

References

Blair, Anthony. “SATAN’S DEN How ‘Toy-Box Killer’ captured & killed 60 women with homemade torture chamber – & incredible tale of victim who ESCAPED.” The US Sun, May 14, 2023. https://www.the-sun.com/news/8114710/toy-box-killer-david-ray-parker-true-crime/

Hunter, Max. “David Parker Ray: New Mexico’s Infamous “Toy Box Killer.” Medium, August 6, 2023. https://medium.com/@thinknwriter/david-parker-ray-new-mexicos-infamous-toy-box-killer-6545bdab9943

Ramsland, Katherine. “David Parker Ray: The Toy Box Killer.” Crime Library, 2014. https://www.crimelibrary.org/serial_killers/predators/david_parker_ray/1_index.html

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