In A Nutshell
David Parker Ray kidnapped women and tortured them in a mobile home kept in New Mexico that he referred to as his “toy box.” He was almost certainly a serial killer and claimed to have murdered countless women. Though no bodies were ever found, several missing persons are believed to have been his victims. He was caught, however, when his final victim managed an incredible escape.
The Whole Bushel
In 1999, David Parker Ray and his accomplice, Cynthia Hendy, solicited Cynthia Vigil for sex. Once Vigil was in Ray’s truck, the pair handcuffed Vigil then bound and gagged her. Hours later, Vigil found herself in a mobile home and was immediately chained to a pole. Apparently, this was such old hat for Ray that he’d made a 20-minute videotape to inform victims what he planned to do to them next. For the next three days, Ray and his accomplice beat, electrocuted, and sexually abused Vigil, always promising things would get worse when they took her to another trailer.
Vigil had no reason to doubt the couple meant to murder her and constantly searched for an opportunity to escape. After the third day of torture, that opportunity came. Ray left the trailer and told his accomplice, Hendy, to look after their victim. When Hendy went to another room, Cynthia Vigil found she had just enough slack in her chains to reach where the keys to her restraints hung. Vigil freed herself and tried for the phone in the mobile home, but as she attempted to call the police, Hendy returned and smashed Vigil in the head with a lamp.
Dazed, but not broken, Vigil struggled with her torturer in the trailer. She fought off Hendy long enough to grab an ice pick from the trailer’s collection of torture implements. And with one of the very tools used to torture her, Vigil beat Hendy back from the door and made her way out of the trailer for the first time in three days. It was only the beginning of her escape, though.
With no clear idea of where she could be, Vigil took off running down the first road she found. Wearing only the collar and chains of her torturers and covered in blood from where Hendy had struck her with a lamp, Vigil struggled to get a motorist to stop and help her. At least two cars passed the bloodied, screaming woman. She passed rows of mobile homes before she saw lights on and an open door. Vigil threw herself into the home and locked the door behind her for fear of pursuit. After what must have been a shock, the homeowner immediately called the police and clothed Vigil as they waited together.
The subsequent police investigation corroborated Vigil’s testimony and revealed there had been two trailers, the second of which was filled with surgical tools, anatomy texts, and a self-authored manual on restraining sex slaves. They also found a diary suggesting Ray had murdered several victims.
The ensuing trial was convoluted and plagued by a series of strange events. Ray suffered a heart attack, a presiding judge died (as did one of Ray’s earlier victims who had planned to testify), and so on. As far as investigators were able to determine, Ray’s family actually knew of his activities. His accomplice testified in return for a reduced sentence (36 years), and Ray received essentially a life sentence, though he only served about two years before dying in prison.