Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Parker Ray: The Toy Box Killer

Abrupt Endings

In June, Ray's second trial began. Again, he started up with claims of innocence, but within a week, he had reached an agreement in a plea deal. He said he was willing to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for cutting a deal for his daughter: she would receive five years of probation. To his mind, her freedom was the greatest gift he could give her.

In this deal, Ray received more than 223 years in prison. "I can only be sorry for what I did," he said enigmatically. McMillian said that there may have been another reason that Ray accepted the plea deal: "Every soul longs for redemption. The guy has the desire to do something good." Ray even made a statement to the effect that the time in his cell would allow him an opportunity to reflect and get right with God.

Glenda Ray pleaded no contest to a kidnapping charge and received a sentence of nine years for second-degree kidnapping. Six years were suspended, and she was to serve five on probation.

Lt. Rob Shilling describes how Ray used the equipment on his victims
Lt. Rob Shilling describes how Ray used the equipment
on his victims

But Ray soon appealed his sentence. He said that his plea had not been voluntary, and that his "exhausted mind was clouded by his ill health, the medications, and the pressure applied by his legal counsel." A three-judge panel rejected the appeal, stating that Ray had been on a normal dose of medication at the time he made the deal, and he had not complained about undue pressure from his attorney. He also had no expert to testify that the medication had confused him. Thus, the deal remained in place, but he wouldn't be serving much of the sentence.

On May 28, 2002, just as he was about to be transferred to the general prison population at the Lea County Correctional Facility, David Ray Parker suffered a genuine heart attack and died. He was 62.

Book cover: Slow Death
Book cover: Slow Death

In November that year, the state police officially opened the Toy Box to the public, in hope that renewed media attention might help to identify other victims and suspects. Inside was a poster that said, "Satan's Den," and a sign that stated, "Bondage Room." The obstetrical table was still there, complete with clamps, leg stretchers, electrical wires, straps, and chains. "Ray had devised two sharp hooks," wrote one reporter, "that were apparently designed to prevent his victims from getting up or resisting electric shocks." Inside a steel cabinet were numerous surgical instruments, and near it was the coffin-shaped box used to terrorize and contain victims. Ray's meticulous log was also available, showing how he kept records of what he did to each person. To ensure that no one escaped, he had rigged an elaborate alarm system and had written reminders to secure all collars and straps before leaving. 

With Ray dead, the investigation fizzled out. No bodies were ever found, no possible victims were identified, and no suspicious deaths loosely associated with Ray were solved. Nevertheless, many sources peg him as a serial killer — a smart one.

According to Jim Fielder in Slow Death, both surviving victims went on to form relationships and start families.

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