Warning: This article contains disturbing descriptions of violence, sexual assault, and rape against women. If you need to reach out, there is 24-hour support for survivors through Durango’s Sexual Assault Services Organization (SASO) at 970-259-3074 or nationally through RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE. For more information on sexual assault, read our Sex & Love column by Durango sexologist Erin Brandt.“Hello there, bitch. Are you comfortable right now? I doubt it. Wrists and ankles chained. Gagged. Probably blind folded. You are disoriented and scared, too, I would imagine. Perfectly normal, under the circumstances. For a little while, at least, you need to get your shit together and listen to this tape. It is very relevant to your situation. I’m going to tell you, in detail, why you have been kidnapped, what’s going to happen to you and how long you’ll be here.
“I don’t know the details of your capture, because this tape is being created July 23, 1993, as a general advisory tape for future female captives. ... Now, you are obviously here against your will, totally helpless, don’t know where you’re at, don’t know what’s gonna happen to you. You’re very scared or very pissed off. I’m sure that you’ve already tried to get your wrists and ankles loose, and know you can’t. Now you’re just waiting to see what’s gonna happen next.
“You probably think you’re gonna be raped and you’re fuckin’ sure right about that. Our primary interest is in what you’ve got between your legs. You’ll be raped thoroughly and repeatedly, in every hole you’ve got. Because, basically, you’ve been snatched and brought here for us to train and use as a sex slave. Sound kind of far out? Well, I suppose it is to the uninitiated, but we do it all the time. It’s gonna take a lot of adjustment on your part, and you’re not gonna like it a fuckin’ bit. But I don’t give a big rat’s ass about that. It’s not like you’re gonna have any choice about the matter. You’ve been taken by force, and you’re going to be kept and used by force.
“What all this amounts to is that you’re gonna be kept naked and chained up like an animal, to be used and abused any time we want to, any way that we want to. And you might as well start gettin’ used to it, because you’re gonna be kept here and used until such time as we get tired of fuckin’ around with you. And we will, eventually, in a month or two, maybe three. It’s no big deal.”
It was an otherwise quiet afternoon in Elephant Butte, New Mexico, on March 22, 1999, when a woman was spotted running down Springland Boulevard.
She was a distressing sight – naked, clearly traumatized, and covered in blood. More jarring was the chain hanging from her neck, held by a metal collar that – hours later – had to be removed with bolt cutters at a hospital.
“She was just running around in circles,” one witness said, according to the podcast Casefile. “At first I thought someone was chasing her, but I didn’t see anyone. She had blood on her face. It was quite a shock. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t make any noise at all. She just looked wild.”
Not long before – 3:22 p.m., to be exact – New Mexico’s Sierra County 911 emergency dispatch received a strange call from a residence at 513 Bass Road. When the operator answered, no one spoke on the other end. All they could make out was what sounded like a scuffle. Then, the call abruptly ended. Concerned, the operator called back. This time, a woman answered and sounded agitated. She insisted the call was a mistake and hung up.
Sensing there was more to the story, the 911 operator radioed law enforcement to perform a welfare check, and Sierra County Deputy David Elston took the call.
The residence on Bass Road was unassuming – a single story, double-wide mobile home and a yard filled with junk. “Beware of dog,” one sign read. The other announced the resident’s name: David P. Ray.
No one was home.
Just behind the home was an innocuous-looking trailer – windowless, white, and 25-feet long. Its interior contents were inaccessible, protected by a steel reinforced double deadbolt that would have to be removed by a locksmith once law enforcement obtained a search warrant.
What lay inside was “Satan’s Den.”
Desert predatorsDavid Parker Ray had lived since 1993 in a community of mobile homes in Hot Springs Landing, a town just across from Elephant Butte. He worked as an armed State Park officer and mechanic at Elephant Butte State Park.
Like most New Mexico towns, Elephant Butte sprawls across a dusty, arid landscape. What was special about the town was that it bordered Elephant Butte State Park, the largest state park in New Mexico, which attracts 100,000 visitors annually to the community of just 1,000 people. The park is home to Elephant Butte Lake – the 84th largest man-made lake in the United States, and the largest body of water in the state.
Elephant Butte had been known for a quiet lifestyle, but all that was about to change once law enforcement entered Ray’s home, where the 911 call originated.
Inside they found a cache of torture devices: clamps, whips, pliers, sex toys, clips, chains, hooks, cameras, harnesses, muzzles, and handcuffs. Hardcore porn decorated the walls. Chains and hooks hung above the bed, and a box that looked like a coffin was placed nearby against a wall.
The curtains were closed, and in the corner of the living room was a bed with a mattress covered in blood. An altercation had clearly taken place. Next to the bed was a broken lamp and an icepick covered in dark, red matter.
The investigators searching Ray’s house had no idea at the time that the fight had involved the naked, terrified woman who’d been found running down Springland Boulevard earlier that day.
Cynthia Vigil JaramilloAfter a separate set of police tracked down the terrified, naked woman, who’d gone inside the home of a couple and hidden under their table, they took her to Sierra Vista Hospital and called in the New Mexico State Police. She told law enforcement she’d fled from the torture home on Bass Road.
A short time later, police apprehended Ray and his girlfriend, Cynthia Hendy – who was covered in blood from a gash on her head – after they were spotted driving around Elephant Butte. They were charged with kidnapping and aggravated battery, among other charges, and held on a $1 million bail each.
Cynthia Vigil Jaramillo, the 22-year-old woman who escaped from Ray and Hendy’s deadly grips, went on to tell investigators her story.
Three days of hell Three days earlier, Jaramillo was looking to make some money. She was a sex worker who’d been navigating the streets of Albuquerque in hopes of finding a date when an acquaintance introduced her to an older, mustachioed man who sat behind the wheel of a motor home. The man immediately got to the point and discussed payment.
“I was talking to this guy thinking it was a date. He handed me the money and when I came up from putting it in my shoe, he put a handcuff on me and told me he was a cop,” Jaramillo said during an interview with the A&E show “The Killing Season.” “I tried fighting him but his girlfriend came out of nowhere and shocked me with a cattle prod.”
Hendy and Ray subdued Jaramillo, who knew at that point the duo were not cops. They handcuffed her, took away her clothes, and threatened to use the gun and cattle prod on her if she screamed.
They drove the frightened and disoriented Jaramillo 150 miles south to Elephant Butte, where they forced her into their home, chained her to the headboard and footboard of a bed in their living room, and clasped a collar around her neck.
In the background, a tape played, outlining their plans to torture, rape, and humiliate her in excruciatingly specific detail. The recording started off with the greeting, “Hello there, bitch.”
The recording was of Ray’s voice, a cold drawl with no sympathy and spiked with a twang. It came across as sickeningly giddy.
“You’re going to be kept chained in a variety of different positions,” he said. A chilling chuckle followed.
Judging by how he spoke, Jaramillo was certain she was not the couple’s first victim.
“He told me I was never going to see my family again. He told me he would kill me like the others,” Jaramillo later told reporters at a 2011 press conference at FBI headquarters in Albuquerque.
True to his word, Ray and Hendy implemented their vile plan, torturing and raping her for days, with Hendy as involved in the torture as Ray. They used electric shocks on her until she passed out and fed her very little.
“I was shocked, raped, hung by the ceiling, drugged – everything he thought of was done to me,” she said.
After three days, Ray returned to work. Believing that Jaramillo was too exhausted to cause any issues, he removed the handcuffs and shackles before he left, but kept her chained to the wall.
That afternoon, Hendy got a phone call. She became distracted and carelessly left the keys on a coffee table. Sensing this was perhaps her only opportunity for escape, Jaramillo slid her body and stretched to the coffee table to reach the keys. As she was doing so, Hendy returned to the room and caught her. The two began to wrestle for the keys, and Hendy beat Jaramillo with a lamp. In the midst of the struggle, Jaramillo was able to grab the phone and dial 911, but was unable to communicate with the operator. Hendy hung up the call, and Jaramillo used the momentary distraction as her golden opportunity. She grabbed a nearby icepick and slashed Hendy across the head. She unlocked herself from the wall and ran.
The toy boxCrime scene investigators searched the Bass Road property thoroughly and found a cache of chilling tools and torture devices. Still, the worst was yet to come.
Law enforcement tried and failed to get into the large, detached semi trailer that had been sitting outside the residence, but it was locked up tight. It took a locksmith to break in.
What they found inside was Ray’s sexual torture kingdom, full of devices he’d rigged up himself.
There were cruel homemade instruments and devices used to restrain his victims, including a gynecological chair, surgical instruments, dildos with spikes, and syringes. A video camera was placed in the corner to record Ray’s sessions, and everywhere they turned there were drawings of Ray’s twisted fantasies portraying what he wanted to do to women, along with photographs of him carrying the acts out. He had books on female anatomy, a box he would lock victims’ heads in, whips, and chains. On the wall, a white sign in bold red lettering read “Satan’s Den.”
The trailer was a vessel utterly dedicated to hosting Ray’s uninhibited, sadistic fantasies.
The othersJaramillo’s escape led investigators to Ray’s doorstep, but they were soon faced with the daunting task of digging through his past. Judging by the photos found at Ray’s house depicting other captive women, along with how well-prepared the duo was for Jaramillo’s kidnapping, police knew there had to be other victims, and potentially more conspirators. Hendy revealed to investigators that Ray often took photos and videos of his victims to keep as mementos.
Investigators discovered a video from 1996 in Ray’s possession that depicted another victim and publicized her ankle tattoo in hopes of identifying her. A woman came forward identifying the tattoo as belonging to her ex daughter-in-law, Kelli Garrett. Garrett was indeed alive and living in Colorado. She’d once lived in the area and had been a friend of Ray’s daughter, Glenda Jean “Jesse” Ray. Garrett told police that on July 24, 1996, she’d gotten in a fight with her husband and decided to hit the bars with some friends to blow off steam. That night, Jesse Ray met up with Garrett at the Blu-Water Saloon in Truth or Consequences, just 5 miles south of Elephant Butte. At some point during the night, Jesse drugged Garrett’s beer. She was taken to Ray’s trailer, where he attached a dog collar and leash to Garrett. Like Jaramillo, she was drugged and tortured for two days before Ray dumped her. No one, not even her husband or police, believed her strange, horrific story. Her husband divorced her, believing she was cheating on him while she was missing, and she moved to Colorado with no answers for what actually happened to her during those two days.
Angelica Montano, an Albuquerque resident, also came forward about her experience after a long period of terrified silence. A friend, one of just two people she’d revealed her ordeal to, convinced her to go to the police after news of Ray’s arrest hit national headlines.
Stranger still was the story of the other person Montano told her story to. On Feb. 21, 1999, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy had been driving north along the long stretch of Interstate 25 when he came across a hitchhiker outside of Truth or Consequences. He pulled over and offered her a ride. She was headed to Albuquerque – roughly a two-hour drive. Montano, most likely in shock, began to tell the officer about how she’d just been kidnapped, raped, and tortured by a couple. Her captors agreed to let her go on the condition that she not tell anyone what happened to her. She agreed, and the captors set her free by dropping her off on the side of the road. The officer, skeptical of her story, offered to take her to the police station, but she refused. She had already broken her promise to her captors by telling him her story.
It was only after Ray and Hendy were in custody that she felt safe enough to come forward.
‘A sick man’It was decided that Ray would face three separate trials, one for each of the identified victims.
The first trial – for the crimes against Jaramillo – ended in a mistrial, but when he was retried, Ray was convicted of all 12 counts he’d been charged with. Montano died before her trial.
During his second trial, Ray cut a deal with prosecutors to keep his daughter out of prison for her role in drugging his victims. Under the plea agreement, he was given 223 years and was sentenced to die in prison, while his daughter, Jesse, was given two and a half years in prison and five years probation for helping to drug and collect victims for her father.
Another accomplice, Dennis Yancy, was also questioned about his role in Ray’s crimes, and eventually copped to strangling Marie Parker, a former girlfriend. Ray had kidnapped and tortured Parker, and allegedly instructed Yancy to kill her when Ray was done with her. Though her body was never found, Yancy was convicted of second degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and was sentenced to two 15-year terms.
The justice of Ray’s sentence was short lived, however. On May 28, 2002, Ray died of a heart attack at the Lea County Correctional Facility at 62 years old, right before he was to be transferred to the general prison population, and just a year after he was sentenced.
“This was a very sick man. ... The only thing that gives me any comfort is that he’s gone. If I didn’t get away, I wouldn’t have my three wonderful boys. I wouldn’t be here,” Jaramillo said at the 2011 press conference at the FBI Albuquerque office.
Hendy was sentenced to 36 years in prison for kidnapping and torture. She served only half of that because legislation at the time allowed for early release. The law was amended just three months after Hendy was sentenced and rewritten to require criminals to serve 85 percent of their sentencing, She was released in July of 2019.
According to KRQE News 13, rather than getting out on parole, Hendy served her two years of parole in prison. Because Hendy wasn’t released on parole, she is under no stipulation to answer to the State, and is not required to tell officials where she’s living or what she’s doing.
The case has since gone down as the most infamous in New Mexico history, but it’s far from over. The FBI still believes more of Ray’s victims are out there – some of them alive, many of them murdered. The FBI has set up a page displaying the jewelry and clothing articles found at 513 Bass Road that they believe belong to Ray’s other victims.
Sprawled across pages and pages of photos are potential clues solemnly waiting to be identified.
Not without a fightWhile the life of Cynthia Vigil Jaramillo hasn’t been easy, it’s clear from her escape from the nightmare on 513 Bass Road that she won’t go down easily.
She spoke publicly about her ordeal for the first time in 2011 to help encourage other victims to come forward. Her voice was soft voice, but there was no mistaking the strength that cut sharply with each word.
“Please you guys, come forward. This man was a very sick man and these families need the closure,” she said, at times wiping away tears.
During the press conference, the FBI released a photograph of a woman that authorities took from a fake driver’s license found in Ray’s possessions and a photograph of Jill Troia, who was last seen on Oct. 1, 1995, at the Frontier Restaurant with Ray’s daughter. Troia is still missing.
After the bodies of 11 women were found buried in the Albuquerque desert in a different case, Jaramillo connected with Christine Barber and the two commiserated about how violence against sex workers is often overlooked. Those who live “high-risk lifestyles” – sex workers, the homeless, and addicts – are often seen as much less sympathetic victims, especially if they are people of color. The violence they experience is often brushed off, and their murders go unsolved.
“All I want is for there to be a group that pays attention to the women on the street,” Jaramillo said.
The two founded Street Safe New Mexico in 2010, a volunteer-run nonprofit that provides support to women living on the streets who struggle with homelessness and addiction, and/or have been victims of human trafficking.
You won’t find them in an office making calls or conducting studies, though. The nonprofit works on the street with these women, passing out nonlethal weapons to them for free. They also put together a Bad Guy List of violent men that they hand out to the women.
The nonprofit’s website ends with this description:
“This is how we advocate. Hard.”
Anyone with information about David Parker Ray or any potential victims should contact the FBI at 505-889-1300. To support Street Safe, visit streetsafenewmexico.org.