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

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

by John Glatt

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429904711
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/01/2007
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 105,445
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

English-born JOHN GLATT is the author of more than twenty bestselling true crime novels, including Playing with Fire, Secrets in the Cellar, The Lost Girls. His first book, a biography of Bill Graham, was published in 1981, and he published For I Have Sinned, his first book of true crime, in 1998. He has appeared television and radio programs all over the world, including Dateline NBC, Fox News, Current Affair, BBC World, and A&E Biography.
English-born John Glatt is the author of Lost and Found, Secrets in the Cellar, Playing with Fire, and many other bestselling books of true crime. He has more than 30 years of experience as an investigative journalist in England and America. Glatt left school at 16 and worked a variety of jobs—including tea boy and messenger—before joining a small weekly newspaper. He freelanced at several English newspapers, then in 1981 moved to New York, where he joined the staff for News Limited and freelanced for publications including Newsweek and the New York Post. His first book, a biography of Bill Graham, was published in 1981, and he published For I Have Sinned, his first book of true crime, in 1998. He has appeared television and radio programs all over the world, including Dateline NBC, Fox News, Current Affair, BBC World, and A&E Biography. He and his wife Gail divide their time between New York City, the Catskill Mountains and London.

Read an Excerpt



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 besidethe 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 again.

Years later, his fianée, Cindy Hendy, would tell the FBI that Ray had boasted of committing his first murder as a young teenager, saying he'd tied a woman to a tree and then tortured her to death.

Criminal profilers say that people like David Ray, who are naturally drawn to bondage and domination, exhibit murderous signs from a very young age.

"The serial killer's first murder is an experience of intense physiological arousal," wrote psychologist Dr. Jeremy Anderson in his 1994 paper Genesis of a Serial Killer: Fantasy's Integral Role in the Creation of a Monster. Dr. Anderson explained, "... there is great pleasure centered in the exertion of power and control over the victim. The killer is at his peak.

"Sexually sadistic fantasies help to control the child's fears, and act as an outlet for hostility and aggression. These aggression-centered fantasies, initially a form of escape for the child, come to serve as a substitute for the child's sense of mastery. In other words, the child learns to depend on the fantasies for feelings of control over self, and over the external world."

According to Dr. Anderson — who has closely studied the early years of Ted Bundy and other killers — most serial murderers share an unstable childhood without a father figure.

"Virtually all serial killers reported childhood punishment and discipline as unfair, hostile, abusive and very inconsistent," wrote Dr. Anderson. "The primary caretakers of the future killer, be they parents, grandparents or legal guardians, are simply 'bad' at their job."

Dr. Anderson also noted that serial killers never bond to their families, and are incapable of making friends or having lasting relationships with men or women.

At school David Ray would often be teased by his friends for being unusually shy of the opposite sex. "Girls would talk to him and he'd turn red," remembered Audie. "I don't know if something happened to him in high school that made him change that we knew nothing about."

By the age of fifteen, David Ray was five-feet, six-inches tall, weighed eighty-four pounds and had perfect vision. A year later his school records show he'd added ten pounds and was approaching a height of six feet.

Ray's 1955 school grade average was "D," with his best marks for science, reading and vocabulary. He was not particularly athletic and disliked sports, apart from the odd game of catch with Audie. His only noteworthy achievement was a year playing trumpet in the Mountainair High School Band.

"I hardly even remember him as a student," said his former teacher, Leila Holland. "He was just the usual nice little boy who lived with his grandparents on their cattle ranch. I can't remember him causing any trouble."

David Ray's 1956 Mountainair High School sophomore year picture shows a handsome teenager with a blond crew-cut, buck-teeth and a wide smile. Noticeably, he is also the only boy to have his shirt buttoned right up to the top.

In the mid-fifties, Mountainair High School was a racial mix of Mexicans and Americans, who co-existed uneasily together. Both groups mainly kept to themselves, rarely mixing socially.

"[David] was real quiet and real reserved and stayed with the Anglos," recalled his former classmate Manny Guiterrez. "I never remember him causing any problems or nothing."

Today, David's sister Peggy is far better remembered than he is. Their old classmates still recall that she was one of the prettiest and most popular girls in her class, with her freckles and blonde-red hair.

In the summer of 1957 their grandmother died suddenly and the two Ray children were split up. David was taken out of Mountainair High School mid-semester without graduating, and moved to Albuquerque to live with his mother. Peggy remained in Mountainair, where she went to live with a local family in town before going on to graduate.

"We all thought it was strange that Peggy didn't go and live with her mother," said Audie Miranda. "I never ever heard from David again after he left. That is, until I read about him in the newspapers more than forty years later."



In 1957, after graduating from Valley High School in northwest Albuquerque, David Ray left home and got a job as a handyman mechanic. He started dating a seventeen-year-old Albuquerque girl named Thelma Frost (not her real name), whom he married in April 1959.

A few months later he left his new bride, who was pregnant, to join the U.S. Army, and was sent overseas, where he honed his skills as a general mechanic. During his three years in the Army, Ray repaired everything from wristwatches to telescopes and airplane engines.

In 1960 Thelma gave birth to a baby boy they named David Elvin, but the marriage soon fell apart because of David's long absences abroad. In early 1961, the twentyone-year-old soldier was granted emergency leave to return to the United States and file for divorce. Apparently, Thelma was glad to be out of the marriage, not challenging either the divorce or Ray's application for custody of their nine-month-old son, who was being cared for by the State Department of Public Welfare.

Ray was awarded custody of the boy, but when he left for his next Army assignment at Fort Hood, Texas, his mother Nettie, who had since remarried, agreed to look after the child.

Later that year, while on leave in Albuquerque, Ray met a young girl named Marilyn Cox (not her real name) and proposed marriage. Marilyn accepted and the couple married in winter 1962. David Ray's second marriage was even briefer than his first: after just three months he was back in an Albuquerque court, filing for divorce. But it would be more than two years before it became final.

In 1963, Ray was discharged from the Army and returned to Albuquerque, finding a job as a driver for Springer Corp., a local trucking company that also employed his new stepfather. For the next few months he lived in his stepfather's Albuquerque home with his mother and young son David.

In early 1966, at the age of twenty-six, he met a quiet, eighteen-year-old girl named Glenda Burdine, marrying her after a whirlwind courtship. Glenda already had a young son named Ron, who she brought to live with Ray's family.

On May 2, 1967, Glenda bore David Ray a daughter they christened Glenda Jean Ray. From the beginning Glenda Jean asserted a fierce independence — one of the reasons her father worshipped her. As she grew up she developed an unusually close relationship to Ray, one that few outsiders could ever understand.

Father and daughter were like two sides of a coin, and after first falling under her father's spell as a child, Glenda was never able to break away. Indeed, some twenty years later, he would tell the FBI that he had first become active in the bondage scene the same year his daughter was born.

When Glenda was just a few months old, Ray again abandoned his family, this time reinventing himself as a hippie. He grew his hair long and bummed around Arizona and New Mexico in a tee-shirt and jeans, making a living doing odd jobs and repairs.

In summer 1969, a few months away from his thirtieth birthday, Ray hitchhiked through Tijeras Canyon near Albuquerque with a teenage blonde girl named Sally, who dutifully carried his possessions in a large duffel bag. Stopping off for a meal at Bob's Truck Stop on Route 66, they struck up a conversation with the owner, Bob Bachelor (not his real name). Bachelor was so impressed by Ray's obvious intelligence and knowledge of mechanics that he immediately offered him a job and a place to stay.

"David was very charismatic," said Bob's girlfriend, then eighteen, who worked as a cook at the truck stop. "He and Sally moved into our trailer, as he was homeless at the time. He blended in real well and everyone liked him."

Over the long, hot summer David Ray impressed everyone with his exceptional mechanical skills, repairing motorcycles and cars. The girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, began to look up to the handsome drifter, considering him a mentor. Every day they would talk about life and Ray's free-spirited philosophy, and she felt that he was one of the gentlest and most sensitive men she had ever met.

Every night after the truck stop closed, the two couples would walk up the canyon to Molly's Bar and party together. One night Ray had some marijuana and rolled a large joint. It was the first time the girlfriend had ever smoked grass.


Excerpted from "Cries In The Desert"
by .
Copyright © 2002 John Glatt.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter Two DRIFTING,
Chapter Four THE TOY BOX,
Chapter Six KELLI,
Chapter Seven SATAN'S DEN,
Chapter Eight TOY BOY ROY,
Chapter Nine MARIE PARKER,
Chapter Eleven CINDY HENDY,
Chapter Twelve BASS ROAD,
Chapter Thirteen MELTDOWN,
Chapter Fourteen ANGELICA MONTANO,
Chapter Fifteen THE WEAKEST LINK,
Chapter Sixteen CYNTHIA VIGIL,
Chapter Eighteen THE CONFESSION,
Chapter Twenty-one "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?",
Chapter Twenty-two HAPPY BIRTHDAY, T OR C,
Chapter Twenty-three AN ADVISORY TAPE,
Chapter Twenty-four A CALM BEFORE THE STORM,
Chapter Twenty-six THE TRIAL,
Chapter Twenty-seven MISTRIAL,
Chapter Twenty-eight A NEW BROOM,
Chapter Twenty-Nine DENOUEMENT,

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Cries in the Desert 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 105 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well i read this book a few yrs ago and then i lent out the book to some officers that actually worked the case. I live in Socorro Nm which is about 45 min from where all this happened. I beleive the author did a great job telling the story and really giving us a glimpse into the sick twisted mind of David Parker Rey. This story goes far beyond what happened there at the lake. This story has changedthe lives of many. I Know a few people that worked the case and who will never be the same. There are stories of what happened to some detectives after documenting every article of evidence in the tox box which are not brought to the attention of the reader. I have also had the pleasure to speak with one of the women who was mentioned in the book who now resides in Colorado. She is a friend of one of my close friends, she tries to live day to day and care for her family. I read some of the reviews posted on here and i find some that are complaing about how much the author went into detail about some stuff but i beleive the author did that cause that the only way he could bring to light 1 third of what he learned form this case. Hopefully my review was insightfull thanks for reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Twisted and thrilling, i couldn't put it down. If you like true crime books then you'll love this one.
tattooedmommie More than 1 year ago
This is a total page turner, the one that you keep wanting to turn the page even when you are still just half way through the page. It's shocking to see what humans can do to one another and as a true crime fan, I can honestly say this is one book that is truly a look into evil.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finnished reading this book and am shocked to say the least. My heart goes out to these women that were, and are still hurting from this nightmare. I can't believe how many times I have driven on that stretch of I-25. I thank the Lord I never broke down or ran out of gas near those two small towns.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think the book is well written, gives a good sense of the background of the subjects without going too far. A very good book to read for those that would like to learn how twisted a mind can get. I compliment the author with his ability to create such a detailed picture through the use of only words...which made the photos only a bonus.
schatzi on LibraryThing 3 days ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is very informative. I think David Parker Ray should have suffered longer for what he and his girlfriend Cindy Hedy and his daughter Jessie should have stayed in prison (his kid)
224perweek More than 1 year ago
This is some scary stuff. I can't believe there are real people like this. This book is not for the faint of heart. Sick and perverted is what this man is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
killerkitty45 More than 1 year ago
There was a better book about this case from another author i don't know their name though but this one's pretty good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed with this book It was all over the place and I have read several books by this author before which I enjoyed very much My heart goes out to the women that are still hear and survived
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to keep up with the many characters, but if you can its worth your while. The courtroom details do get to be a bit lengthy in detail. This is the second book I have read by this author, and he is an excellent true crime author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written and worth the time to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will never understand what makes these creepy, pathetic individuals tick, but reading this story gets you about as close as possible. I feel so sad for the women that had the terrible luck to run into this creep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written .... Bn
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No matter how horrible the writer could have been or was, the book would still be interesting because of the subject matter. I am not saying that this author was horrible, but the author was not the best. The author spent a lot of time describing events that were not necessary to the story. For example, the author spent a lot of time describing the town and the area in New Mexico where the crime occurred. Maybe other people want to know that much detail about the town, but to me it was not that important. Yes, it needed to be mentioned and described in some detail, but not to the extent that the author went into. I would recommend the book to anyone. I had no problem finishing the book (as stated earlier the subject matter was rather intriguing as well as disturbing). I just think the author could have done a better job in conveying the story to the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good read. Lots of detail. Definately more than i expected. Well worth the money
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The topic goes back and forth too much and it gets confusing at times. A paragraph will come out of the blue that isnt even on that perticular subject. I got annoyed with it. Good story though. Its really crazy. Just wish it was written better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago