Slow Death:: The Sickest Serial Slayer To Stalk The Southwest

Slow Death:: The Sickest Serial Slayer To Stalk The Southwest

by James Fielder

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Never Trust a Chained Captive.

That was one of the rules David Parker Ray posted on the isolated property where he and his girlfriend Cynthia Hendy lived near New Mexico's Elephant Butte Lake. They called their windowless trailer The Toybox. Over the years they lured countless young women into its chamber of unspeakable pain and horror--and filmed every moment.

A Satanist, Ray was the center of a web of sadism, sex slavery, and murder. Authorities suspect he murdered more than 60 women. In October 2011, a flood of tips led to a renewed search for the remains of more possible victims. This updated edition reveals all the details, plus the inside story on the controversial movie based on these unforgettable events.

"An eye-opening journey into the world of criminal sexual sadism." --Jim Yontz, Deputy District Attorney, Albuquerque, New Mexico

16 pages of haunting photos

"Darkly fascinating. . .a shocker from beginning to end." --Gregg Olsen, New York Times bestselling author

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786030279
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 02/05/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 249,832
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

The late Jim Fielder was a journalist based in Seattle, Washington. He wrote for the Globe, the New York Post, and Reuters International. On his behalf, a new update to Slow Death has been written by veteran true-crime writer Sheila Johnson.

Read an Excerpt


He put gravy on me and then let a dog lick it off.

— Cyndy Vigil, describing her torture by David Ray, 4/16/1999

Cyndy Vigil, twenty-two, ran down the narrow hall and out the door of the mobile home — fleeing for her life. It was late in the afternoon on March 22, 1999, and she had no idea where she was. She didn't know she was running down Bass Road in Elephant Butte, New Mexico. She just knew she had to get away from the two people who'd kept her in captivity for the last three horrible days and nights. She was naked from head to toe, except for the padlocked metal collar around her neck attached to a four-foot swinging chain dangling in the wind over her shoulder.

One local motorist saw her "running in circles" in the Hot Springs neighborhood overlooking the giant turquoise blue lake and the woman wanted to help. Doris Mitchell was driving home from afternoon grocery shopping, but the sight of the naked woman made her freeze in fear. She rolled up her windows and locked all her doors. She would not soon forget the frightened woman who ran beside her car and tried desperately to open her locked doors that day.

"She didn't say anything. She didn't say anything at all," Mitchell later told Frances Baird, a young reporter for the Sentinel, the local Sierra County newspaper. "She just looked wild."

By the time Vigil rounded the corner of the dusty dirt road and turned to flee down a patchy asphalt road leading to the lake, she was looking for shelter. The neighborhood was a jumble of mobile homes and looked to her like every yard was empty. As the road started to veer downhill, she got lucky and spotted a double-wide trailer on her left with a small grassy green yard surrounded by a tiny white picket fence. It was the home of Darlene and Donald Breech, who had worked and lived near Elephant Butte Lake for almost twenty-three years.

Without knocking, Vigil barged through the front door and started yelling at the top of her lungs. "Help me! Help me!" she shrieked.

Darlene Breech was standing in her kitchen pouring herself a glass of water when the hysterical girl suddenly appeared in her living room, stark naked and nearly out of her mind with fear.

"She didn't knock; she just burst in," Darlene later told Assistant District Attorney James A. Yontz. "As she was walkin' in the door, she just started screaming, 'Don't let them get me! Please help me!' She grabbed my arms and she didn't want to let go. I looked at her body and I couldn't believe my eyes.

"Her wrists looked like hamburger meat. She had beautiful long brown hair and it was all matted with blood. She was dirty all over and it looked like she had pooped in her pants. Her poor little boobs were black and blue and there were bruises all over her arms and legs.

"For some reason I didn't tell her to get out of the house. Donald and I are both retired, and we have four grown daughters, and to us she didn't look like she could hurt a flea. She couldn't have weighed over a hundred pounds, dripping wet.

"She held on to me real tight while she was talking and I had blood all over me. I tried to calm her down and a second later she ran over to the front door and dead-bolted it from the inside so nobody could snatch her. My husband, Don, was outside, watering the back-yard.

"She ran back from the front door and grabbed my arm and started talking — very, very fast. She was terrified. She said some guy named David and his girlfriend, Cindy, had kept her locked up in a trailer for three days and nights, and during this time, they did nothing but torture her.

"She said on the third day David woke up and put on some kind of ranger uniform and went to work, leaving Hendy to watch her. She was chained to a wall while her captor watched a soap opera on television. Cyndy somehow managed to get a key and unlock herself from the wall, but the woman caught her and yelled, 'Hey, bitch, you're not going anywhere!' [She] hit [Cyndy] over the head with a big glass lamp.

"She escaped by stabbing this other woman in the back of the neck with an ice pick.

"Then she jumped through a window and ran for her life.

"Right away I called the nine-one-one operator. The first time I called, I told the operator what was going on, but not where I lived. I've lived here a long time and I know there are too many 'creepholes' living around Truth or Consequences, so I just hung up.

"Cyndy sat down in the kitchen. I've got this wet bar in my trailer and the bar stools are covered with a white Naugahyde kinda leather. I'm a smoker and I remember having a cigarette in the ashtray. I remember her sittin' there, smoking my cigarette, sitting on a stool."

Darlene listened to Vigil tell her that the man and the woman who hurt her were probably driving around the neighborhood looking for her, and Darlene told the young girl not to worry — Darlene Breech had a shotgun. What she didn't tell Vigil was the shotgun probably hadn't been fired in over fifty years.

"My husband, Donald, come in the back door and I explained what was going on. I told him to go to the closet and get my pink robe. Cyndy is just a little bitty thing and that pink bathrobe just swallowed her up. Right after she put it on, she hugged herself and went over and sat in the corner, cuddling herself, kinda like a little kid.

"She was real quiet, just whimpering.

"I called nine-one-one again and told them we lived next to Elephant Butte Lake, and a few minutes later, the deputies drove down Hot Springs Landing Road and the fools drove right past the house! Don went outside and waved them down. When Vigil saw the police, she just went outside and threw herself at them. They never came inside the house.

"They took her away and I went inside the house and started shaking all over. Right away I called my oldest daughter, who works as a nurse at the local Sierra Vista County Hospital. She told me to clean everything with Clorox.

"I must have cleaned the house for three hours, nonstop.

"I found out later the police picked up the kidnappers, Ray and Hendy, driving around less than a block from my house. If I had waited any longer to call back to the nine-one-one operator, they would have been at my door. ..."

Sierra County sheriff's deputy Lucas Alvarez picked up Cyndy Vigil in front of Don and Darlene's double-wide and rushed her to the Sierra Vista County Hospital, where the dog collar and chain were cut off in the emergency room and doctors and nurses began to care for her banged-up body. His partner, David Elston, drove the three blocks to Ray's mobile home to search it.

The rutted wood sign out in front read DAVID P. RAY. There was a six-foot- high chain-link fence surrounding the entire piece of lakeside rental property. Ray's long brown-and-white mobile home was set far back from the dirt road and it was surrounded by two sheds, a bait trailer and a large white cargo trailer just off the northern end of the front porch. There were two sailboats and a car garage in the front yard.

Elston stepped through the open sliding glass door in the back of the building and "cleared" the house for any other persons. It was deserted.

He walked through a hallway into a middle bedroom and the first thing he saw was broken shards of green glass on the floor, next to a broken lamp, next to a broken window. There were smears of blood on the tangled sheets of the bed. A large dildo stood on a counter nearby. There was a long coffinlike box next to one wall, and when he looked up at the ceiling, he saw a pulley device with hooks and chains that slid along half-inch steel rods attached to the ceiling.

In the meantime, police from Elephant Butte State Park arrested David Parker Ray and Cynthia Lea Hendy driving down Springfield Road in his red camper — not far from where Vigil had found her refuge. The police housed the two suspects in the Cooper Police Training Center on the edge of the nearby town, Truth or Consequences.

Prior to 1950, the town had been called Hot Springs, New Mexico, but Ralph Edwards, popular host of a radio game show called Truth or Consequences, said he would broadcast a segment of the show from any town that changed its name to honor his program. The locals took the bait and ever since then the town has been called Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, or as the locals call it, T or C. The name change officially took place on April 1, 1950.

Control of the David Parker Ray case quickly jumped from local T or C hands into the more experienced hands of the New Mexico State Police (NMSP). Agent Wesley LaCuesta was a five-year veteran of the Criminal Assault and Violent Crimes Investigation Section when he first got the call to help on the case. When he heard the news out of T or C, he left his office in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and hurried north on Interstate 25, arriving in Truth or Consequences at 5:55 P.M.

Within hours he was briefed, and later that Monday night, he started interviewing Cyndy Vigil at the local Sierra Vista County Hospital. His report on the victim, as filed in the early arrest warrant issued for David Parker Ray, is chilling. It reads:

I observed small cuts on both her legs, bruising on her right arm and bruising and abrasions on both her wrists. I also observed welt marks on her back and small puncture wounds and light bruising on her breasts.

She indicated that on Saturday, March 20, 1999, between 10:00 and 11:00 A.M., she was street-walking on Central Avenue (Highway 66) in Albuquerque and she was introduced to the two suspects by a local pimp. She met Ray and Hendy in a recreational vehicle owned by Ray. When she stepped inside the RV, Ray showed her a small police badge and told her she was under arrest for solicitation. Hendy then came out of the vehicle restroom and handcuffed her. She was restrained to a fixture in the camper and the suspects stripped her of all her clothing and threatened to shock her if she resisted.

Ms. Vigil stated that she was then taken to an unknown location where she was restrained by her arms and her legs. She said Ray placed dildos into her vagina and rectum simultaneously while Hendy watched on. She described receiving "shock therapy" in which Ray attached electrical connections to her breasts, which would send electrical shocks through her body. Both times, Hendy would wave a small revolver, threatening to shoot her if she tried to escape.

Ms. Vigil recounted how on Sunday, March 21, 1999, Ray and Hendy hung her from the ceiling in one bedroom by her arms and legs. She was then whipped on the back with a leather whip. After the whipping, Ray inserted a large metal dildo into her vagina.

Ms. Vigil also stated that an introductory audiotape recording was played to her, detailing what David Ray was going to do to her. She was also shown photographs of other naked women who had been tied up. Ms. Vigil stated that Ray took photographs of her while she was restrained from the ceiling of one of his rooms.

She referred to this room as "the dirty room."


They say before this thing is over, the Charles Manson family will look like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

— Mary Jo Montgomery, chief clerk, magistrate court (T or C), 6/13/1999

Before David Ray attracted national attention, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, was just another small, sleepy community. Population 6,000. Most of the residents were "snowbirds," folks who moved there for the spectacular weather (355 days of sunshine a year, according to the Sierra County Sentinel). The average age of residents was fifty-eight years old. Six months before Ray put T or C on the map, Andrew Alexander, president of the chamber of commerce, made a few off-the-cuff comments on the local state of mind.

"Before 1998, there was a sentiment that nothing's going to happen around here, which troubled some, but pleased those who wanted it to stay small and quiet," said Alexander. "Now there's a sentiment that something is going to happen, and that troubles people, too, but I think it brings them together."

It took only two days in the spring of 1999 for David Parker Ray to bring the community together.

Local leaders had declared 1998 to be "the Year of the Bible," and by Tuesday night, March 23, many elderly people in the retirement community felt like 1999 was truly going to be called "the Year of the Devil." They were in a state of panic over the allegations that the nearby city of Elephant Butte might be home to a group of crazed sexual sadists. People were up in arms.

The state's "top cop" quickly called a town hall meeting to allow people to express their fear and anger.

Darren White, head of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, dropped his busy schedule in Albuquerque and hurriedly flew into the tiny Truth or Consequences Municipal Airport. He was picked up by state police and rushed to the meeting. He sat at a small table in front of several hundred worried people and calmly tried to answer as many questions as he knew the answers to (there still had not been charges filed) . One eighty-eight-year-old lady asked him what he was going to do about the "evil nightmare" that threatened the peace and quiet of her beloved desert home. White looked back at her, shaken.

"The nightmare is behind bars," he told her. "This is a safe community."

The next day, Wednesday, March 24, David Ray and Cindy Hendy were brought to the magistrate court in T or C to face separate arraignment hearings in front of Magistrate Judge Thomas Pestak. They were both in chains and shackles. Hendy walked into the courtroom in her orange jail jumpsuit; the dour dishwater blonde told the swarming media in a hushed voice, "I'm innocent.... I'm afraid to talk." David Ray, his face rough and wrinkled from years of working in the sun, shook his head and spoke softly after a reporter asked him if he "did it."

"It didn't happen that way," he said.

Inside the courtroom, both suspects told Pestak they were too poor to pay for an attorney and each one asked for a public defender. Ray worked, but Hendy told the judge she was trying to get by on only $331 a month from her welfare check. Pestak listened to Socorro, New Mexico, prosecutor Jim Yontz present a list of twenty-five felony charges against each defendant. The charges included kidnapping, criminal sexual penetration (rape with dildos), aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy. If convicted of all charges, Ray and Hendy would each be sentenced to 197 years behind bars. Judge Pestak was concerned that Ray and Hendy might flee, so he set their bail high enough so that neither would try to make a run for it.

"One million dollars each," he told them. "Cash."

There was a true media feeding frenzy when the case broke. The New York Times and People magazine were on the scene. The Albuquerque Journal sent down several reporters. The supermarket tabloid the Globe had a reporter up in Everett, Washington, digging up the dirt on Cindy Hendy, and a reporter in T or C looking into David Ray's past. CBS, NBC and ABC all had lead stories on the evening news that week. Television stations from all over New Mexico filled the twenty-two town motels. The Associated Press reporter and cameraman were everywhere, as were the three local T or C weeklies, the Sentinel, the Herald and the Desert Journal.

Local county sheriff Terry Byers watched the media mobs take over the two neighboring towns during those first few days of the investigation: "The first night we only had one television news truck and after Wednesday we had ten trucks here within hours."

Major Bob Barnes of Elephant Butte complained that noisy helicopters were disrupting his traditional afternoon nap. He told a news conference that most of the people in town didn't even lock their doors at night and now Elephant Butte was becoming famous as a haven for white-trash sadists.

"We feel violated," he said.

When the Rio Grande was dammed in 1916 to create Elephant Butte Lake and more irrigation water for the farmers and ranchers of southern New Mexico, thousands of rattlesnakes congregated on an island that later became known as Rattlesnake Island. The island is right across the lake from where David Ray lived on his lease lot property at Hot Springs Landing.

Frances Baird was only seventeen years old when Ray was arrested, and she didn't have any idea how nasty the story would be, but she was the only crime reporter for the Sentinel. When the story broke, she already had an inside scoop on what was going on "with that snake in the grass, David Ray."

Her boyfriend, Byron Wilson, twenty-seven, was the park cop who arrested Ray and Hendy on the first afternoon.


Excerpted from "Slow Death"
by .
Copyright © 2013 Estate of Jim Fielder.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.

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Slow Death 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not for the faint at heart. I like reading true crime books and have read many But none as detailed as this one. David Parker Ray is one Sick Evil Monster!!! Cindy Hendy is just as evil and sick! How does ones mind come up with such horrific torture and furthermore preform these physical and mental acts on young women. God Bless the survivors and all the missing young women... I know David and Cindy are and will burn in hell! Brace yourself for one Nightmare of a true crime read....
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Slow Death' by Jim Fielder, a non-fiction/True Crime reading novel, published in January of 2003. A New Mexico sex torture murder case, that expresses how to 'never lose faith' and 'how to fight back.' This novels' dominant way of looking at life is ' you can not give up no matter what, and you have to push through the odds. David Parker Ray is the main character/antagonist Cindy Hendy is the other main character/antagonist. Strong supporting characters are as follows Roy Yancy, Detective Jim Yontz, Jesse Parker, and the countless victims of David Parker Ray. David Parker Ray is who stands out in this story. The writer, although he can't really develop this character in the book, because of the fact that it is true, does slowly reveal the character in a way that we find out reasoning behind his actions as we read about his background. He is definitely not made with a cookie cutter, that's for sure. He is a real person, therefore he is very complex and there is a lot of background for this guy, because of his mental 'issues.' The same applies for David Parker Ray's partner in crime, Cindy Hendy. She is revealed throughout the novel, using dialog, actions, and reactions definitely. This character, is a real person of course, but is not as complex as David Ray. She is not even on the same chart as David Ray, not to take away from her complexity, but she is a lot simpler than her partner, which, in this case, would be considered a very good thing. The setting is pretty significant to the story, because of its remoteness. The story takes place in the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Where the people are more strange than normal. The majority of the story takes place on David Ray's property. Which is a small trailer, called the 'Toy box', aka, the torture chamber. That is significant to the setting, because it shows the meanings and truth of David Ray. It is important because that was a big part of the novel, this elaborate set up in his back trailer shows the time David took to put something together, and how serious he was about what he was doing, spending thousands of dollars to build. A different setting wouldn't make this story impossible, because it is a true story. But, there is an importance to the 'trailers,' but it wouldn't make a difference as to where the trailers were exactly located. Major conflict occurring in this story, is sex/torture/murder. Years of these actions occur, without a word being spoken. Over fourteen bodies were suppossibly killed, but never found and the chilling details discussed throughout the story make the hairs on your body stand straight up. The Chamber of Horrors, Never Trust a Chained Captive, and If She's Worth Taking-She's Worth Keeping! are just a few of the major conflicts in this book. Not to even mention the MAJOR CONFLICTS that go on inside David Parker Ray's head! Irony? Dialect? Hard-hitting realism? Slowing of time during action scenes? If any of these catch your eye, this is a book to read. Irony occurs frequently all through the story dialect is majority of the book, allowing the readers to hear the words that come directly from Ray's mouth. Hard-hitting realism and slowing of time during sequences happen and draw you in to this novel like never before. A first person narrative story of torture, killings, mental insanity, fear, destruction, and truth. Recommendations definitely from me, this book is a shocking, revealing, and eye opening true story that is bound to have you gripping each page, dying to get to the next. Two thumbs up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I used to live in Tor C at the time that this was all unfolding! Great book!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jim Fielder presents this case in a unique story format rather than a cold recitation of the facts. If ever released from jail, David Ray would have reoffended before he got home. Ray is a true criminal sexual saddist. While some license is taken with dialogue between the persons involved, the facts of the case are accurate. Fielder attended the hearings, trials and sentencing in this case. He did not merely review court transcripts as his only source for the book. Fielder gained access to the evidence and photos as they came in at trial. His photos are copies of the actual pieces of evidence. To gain more knowedge of the case you would have to have access to the FBI and State Police reports. His account is accurate. I know first hand - I prosecuted the case for the State of New Mexico.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best crime book I've ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
very detailed account of mass murderers
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is compelling. Admittedly, it's difficult to read, but at the same time, it's impossible to put down. It's graphic and gritty to the point where some might consider it offensive, but at the very least, it's honest and real. The violence and terror afflicted by David Ray is not at all glossed over. If you're tired of so-called 'true crime' books in which the unpleasant facts are whitewashed or otherwise omitted, this book is a must read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
wow so far this book iz amazing i am just so young but im very interested by mystery books such as this
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very good but it could of had more details.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For cutting to the chase, it! Graphic details, A+...well done! Pictures, I prefer less pictures of the Detective, Atty's, Reporters, etc (even though they play an important part)...B+ What an excellent change of pace from A. Rule..which I read feverishly. After seeing one of the victims on Montel, I was compelled to read her plight. This book started off with a bang and ended, for that vile b's't'd in the book, just the way it should have. A must read for the True Crime fan with twisted curiousity! Way to go, Jim!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again we find ourselves plodding through boring aspects of the courtroom lawyers and not enough of the gory details. DN
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She hissed "why are you helpong that traitor!"
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story is itself very compelling, disturbing and twisted - but sadly, the book is written poorly and is filled with dull and unnecessary details. It started fairly well, but by the middle of the book, I was quickly learning how to speed read.