Cynthia Vigil-Jaramillo‘s name is bound to come up in discussions of extreme acts of bravery. Hers is a true-crime story with a satisfying ending — a rarity in kidnapping cases. She’s a victim, yes, but, more importantly, she’s a survivor. What Vigil-Jaramillo endured during three days of captivity by David Parker Ray, the “Toy Box KIller,” is horrific. However, despite her seemingly hopeless situation, she accomplished the unthinkable. She escaped.
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Ray had many victims before Vigil-Jaramillo. But thanks to her courage, there will be none after her. In fact, it was the thought of a young girl that gave her the resilient spirit she needed to outsmart her captor.
Who exactly is the “Toy Box Killer,” and how did Cynthia Vigil-Jaramillo’s act of immense valor potentially save dozens, or even hundreds, of women?
Cynthia Vigil-Jaramillo’s Abduction by David Parker Ray
On March 19, 1999, 22-year-old Cynthia Vigil-Jaramillo was in an Albuquerque, New Mexico, parking lot, minding her own business. But then man posing as an undercover police officer put her under arrest for solicitation of prostitution, and placed her in the backseat of his car. The man was actually David Parker Ray, the “Toy Box Killer,” and he was taking his soundproof trailer, which he called his “Toy Box.”
Ray chained Vigial-Jaramillo to a medical-looking table. There, he tortured and raped her for three days, with help from his girlfriend, Cindy Hendy. Vigil-Jaramillo was quick to hear a tape that Ray recorded, detailing what she and other women would endure. That’s when she realized Ray had brought other women to the trailer before her.
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“The way he talked, I didn’t feel like this was his first time,” Vigil-Jaramillo recalled. “It was like he knew what he was doing. He told me I was never going to see my family again. He told me he would kill me like the others.”
Ray also frequently spoke about another victim, a girl. Vigil-Jaramillo overheard them talking, and was distraught by the possibility of this happening to yet another woman, especially one so young. The thought of that girl strengthened Vigil-Jaramillo’s will to live.
Cynthia Vigil-Jaramillo’s Escape From the Toy Box Killer
On the third day, Ray went to work, and left Vigil-Jaramillo under his girlfriend’s watchful eye. Hendy wasn’t as meticulous as Ray, and placed keys to the restraints on a nearby table. While she left the room, Vigil-Jaramillo used her feet to quietly inch the table closer, until she could reach the keys.
She freed her hands before she was caught, and stabbed, by Hendy. Vigil-Jaramillo knew this was a battle for her life. So, she grabbed an icepick, stabbed Hendy, and escaped.
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She ran out of the trailer naked, still in chains and collar. In his tape, Ray said the neighbors knew what he was doing, and that Vigil-Jaramillo possibly would be “servicing” them. Knowing they weren’t an option, she ran to another mobile home for help. The owner brought Vigil-Jaramillo inside, and then called police.
Ray and Hendy were apprehended near their home and the “Toy Box.” Vigil-Jaramillo had escaped a serial rapist, and suspected serial killer, saving others from the horrors she endured. What the police found in Ray’s “Toy Box,” and on the property of his trailer, is shocking.
David Parker Ray’s Lifetime of Crime
Ray was always a bit of an outcast. Bullied in school and abused at home, he turned to drugs and alcohol, self-medicating and self-soothing. He later joined the U.S. Army, from which he was honorably discharged. Before Hendy, Ray was married and divorced four times.
But when did his life of crime start? Police believe Ray began to abduct, rape, torture and, presumably, kill women in the mid-1950s. It’s uncertain how many victims Ray had. However, it was Vigil-Jaramillo and another woman, Kelli Garrett, who testified against him in court.
Another victim, identified as Angelica M., came forward, and told how she was abducted only a month before Vigil-Jaramillo. She reported her kidnapping, but the police failed to investigate further. After searching Ray’s trailer, they found photos and evidence of more victims. In his “Toy Box,” police found torture items and sex toys priced at about $100,000, as well as a video tape of Garrett’s sexual assault by Ray and Hendy.
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Hendy quickly confessed, and told the police what she knew about the murders. Ray’s daughter, Glenda “Jesse” Ray, and a friend, Dennis Roy Yancy, had helped him to dispose of the bodies. Yancy admitted to aiding in the murder of Marie Parker, strangling her in 1997, following days of torture by Ray. Glenda Ray and Yancy claimed to have accompanied him to multiple sites to dispose of the bodies.
Ray is believe to be responsible for as many as 50 murders. However, there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that, beyond diary entries in which he detailed the killings. The sites Yancy identified as containing victim remains ultimately yielded nothing. Ray was never charged with murder. Nevertheless, the justice system prevented him from striking again.
Where Are Cynthia Vigil-Jaramillo and Toy Box Killer Now?
Ray was sentenced in 2001 to 224 years in prison for multiple offenses, including the abduction and sexual torture of three women. His daughter, Jesse Ray, was sentenced to nine years, while his girlfriend and accomplice, Hendy, received 36 years for her role in the crimes.
Unfortunately, justice wasn’t served to the fullest for Vigil-Jaramillo and countless other victims, because Ray died of a heart attack in May 2002, three years into his prison sentence. Despite his death, the case of the “Toy Box Killer” remains a priority.
“We’re still getting good leads,” FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said. “As long as we’re getting those leads, and as long as the exposure in the press keeps generating interest in the case, we’re going to keep investigating this.”
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Meanwhile, Cynthia Vigil-Jaramillo had her entire life ahead of her. “This was a very sick man,” Vigil-Jaramillo reflected in 2011. “The only thing that gives me 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.”
In a true tale of survival, Vigil-Jaramillo escaped an early death, and countless women from the same fate. Her persistence is a lesson to everyone. Vigil-Jaramillo embodies strength, and gives hope to women everywhere.
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