Surviving the ‘Toy Box Killer’ (2024)

NEW MEXICO(KRQE) – It’s the most twisted crime story in New Mexico history. Detectives uncovered a sex-torture chamber dubbed “Satan’s Den,” a treasure trove of women’s belongings and an audio cassette tape pre-recorded by a serial rapist for his victims. The nightmarish details could have been pulled off the pages of a Hollywood script, but this was not a movie and one woman survived it all.

In our interview, Cynthia Jaramillo describes the terrifying night she came face to face with the “Toy Box Killer” and her harrowing escape that put an end to the serial rapist’s crimes that span decades.

Crystal Gutierrez: “A lot of people would say, you’re not only a survivor, you saved other women.”
Cynthia: “I never looked it at like that. I just look at it as I save myself.”

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After a childhood of abuse and molestation, Cynthia found herself on the streets in Albuquerque. She would first sell drugs to make ends meet but then started selling her body. “Probably about 13. At 13 I was like, I have nothing, I had to figure out how to survive,” said Cynthia.

This born survivor was about to have her survival skills tested to the limits.

It was March 1999, when Cynthia Jaramillo was working the streets in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Little did she know, the next job she would take was almost her last. Cynthia had a set of rules for working the streets to keep herself safe. The first rule on her list was to not get in RVs.

“I don’t know what was going through my head that day, but I broke all my rules right there,” Cynthia said. “When we get to the back of the RV, he pulls out a badge and throws handcuffs on my wrist. I was like, wait…no, no, this isn’t right you ain’t a cop.”

The man with the handcuffs was David Parker Ray, also known to the FBI as the “Toy Box Killer.” As Cynthia reached for the door, something stopped her dead in her tracks. Ray shouted out a name she didn’t give him.

“I was like, literally, my fingertips were touching the door when he yelled Cindy,” Cynthia said. “That freaked me out because I didn’t give him my I name I gave him another name.”

Ray was talking to the woman who would later be charged as his accomplice, Cindy Hendy. “A girl came out from behind a curtain in there, in the RV,” Cynthia said. She shocked me with the cattle prod.”

Cynthia says she was then dragged to the back of the RV. That’s where Ray handcuffed her to a cabinet.

While the wheels of the RV were turning, the wheels in her mind were too. Cynthia started thinking of her first escape plan. “I unscrewed the cabinet where I was handcuffed to and I remember getting up on my feet and kind of crouching down,” Cynthia said. “I was like as soon as the RV got slow enough, I was going to hit the door.”

Once she was no longer handcuffed to the cabinet, she waited for her chance to jump out with each second seeming longer than the next. Then, Ray does something that she didn’t expect. “I don’t know why he had to slam on his brakes; it made me tumble,” Cynthia said. “I was loose, my hands were tied behind my back, but I was loose.”

Cindy Hendy is the first to notice Cynthia is standing up and free. “She came to the back with a gun,” Cynthia said. “He pulled over and then he came back.”

That was the last thing Cynthia remembers before everything went black. She would wake up to the sound of Ray’s voice on a recorded cassette tape.

The FBI says Ray recorded that audiotape in 1993. Cynthia was abducted in 1999. Its been more than 22 years since Cynthia was forced to listen to Ray’s bone-chilling instructions, yet hearing his voice is still haunting.

Here’s a portion of the recording that Cynthia heard:

Okay (expletive), we both know why you’ve been brought here today.
Your wrists and ankles are chained and you’re gagged because you’re not going to like the way I do it.
You’re going to be kept here naked and chained down. I’m going to use you for a sex slave.

If I thought that you knew too much to cause damage you would not be turned loose, you would simply disappear.

David Parker Ray – Audio cassette recording

Cynthia said what haunts her more is knowing she likely was not the first person to hear it. The “Toy Box” as Ray called it, was parked behind his home near Elephant Butte, New Mexico. Aerial video shows it hiding in plain sight. Detectives combed through the sex torture chamber and would find chains, whips, and pulleys. In the center of the room was a gynecological chair where Cynthia said she suffered electric shocks.

“The more pain that I showed, the more I hurt, the more he got off,” Cynthia said.

Cynthia says she would be strapped to the chair for hours being tortured. The rest of the time, a dog collar around her neck kept her chained to a pole by a bed. There was also a padlock attached to the dog collar to make sure she couldn’t escape.

But as Ray continued his twisted game for pleasure, Cynthia started playing her game of survival. She said she started studying her surroundings and listening to the conversations between her two abductors. “When they would take me from one room to the other, or from one spot to the next, I would see the rules posted all over,” Cynthia said, “One of them, was don’t trust a chained captive.”

After reading that, Cynthia said she knew the only way she would walk out alive was if she escaped. After three days of torture, Cynthia got her chance. Cynthia said Hendy got a phone call about a possible business deal. In her excitement, Hendy made two crucial mistakes; she left Cynthia alone, and she left keys to the padlock in plain sight.

“I realized she left the keys on the coffee table,” Cynthia said. “I put my feet up and I went under the fence and I pulled the table towards me.”

With the keys in her hands, Cynthia worked quickly to unlock the padlock that kept her chained. She was on the second key when Hendy ran back into the room to find Cynthia in the middle of her escape. “She got that lamp and she started beating me with it,” Cynthia said.

By this time, the padlock had come loose. Cynthia’s chance to escape came down to a fight between the born survivor and her kidnapper. “I picked up the phone and an ice pick, I called 911, and I stabbed her,” Cynthia said. “When she grabbed her head, I jumped from the bed to the living room floor and just bolted out the door.”

For the first time in days, Cynthia is outside and free. Her first thought was to run, but she didn’t know where she was. “I just ran up the road and a car was passing me,” Cynthia said. “She rolled up her window, she left it cracked and I was begging her for help.”

By this time, Cynthia was covered in blood, running in her bare feet and naked. That terrifying image was likely too much for the stranger, who drove off, leaving Cynthia behind.

In the distance, Cynthia would see a trailer with lights still on. “I just ran in their door; I didn’t even knock,” Cynthia said.

Inside the home, there was an elderly woman washing dishes. Her husband would walk in from a back room. “She was really calm, and she kept me calm,” Cynthia said. “Then her husband came in and said ‘I heard noise’ and he sees me there naked, bloody, bloody, bloody and his eyes…he froze in the doorway.”

That image, which is still vivid in Cynthia’s mind, was not enough to spook the couple. Instead of chasing her off, they became Cynthia’s protectors. The woman called 911 and told her husband to help the stranger who was standing in their living room covered in blood.

She now calls them her guardian angels. “She had her husband get me a robe and cover me,” Cynthia said. “The man kept assuring me that he was not going to let him get me – and I was like he has a gun he’s going to come and get me.”

Authorities caught Ray and Hendy. The next time Cynthia would see him was in court when Ray was convicted. Hendy was also convicted and served nearly 20 years before being released in 2019.

“Do I forgive her? Yeah, I forgive her,” Cynthia said. “I think there was a part of her that was David Parker Ray’s victim too.”

Ray was sentenced to more than 223 years in prison for sexually torturing two women, including Cynthia. However, he had claimed to have abducted 40 women, from across the U.S. However, since no bodies were ever found, Ray was not charged for those crimes and he never will be. Ray died in prison in 2002, from a heart attack.

Cynthia now pays it forward with the non-profit she founded “Street Safe New Mexico.” She and her partner, Christine Barber, pay for hotel rooms for women on the street to shower and sleep. They also hand out essentials, including clothes, and testify in court when a woman gets raped to make sure the women get the last word.

“I’m not his victim,” Cynthia said. “I was never his victim. I wish he could have known that.”

“The rest of it, basically, said what was going to happen to you; how he was going to torture you,” Cynthia said. {He} talked about the toy box.”

Surviving the ‘Toy Box Killer’ (2024)
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