ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (KRQE) – The woman behind one of New Mexico’s most notorious crimes could soon be out of prison.
David Parker Ray’s girlfriend, convicted of kidnapping and rape for helping him torture women in the so-called “toy box,” can start planning for her release after spending just half of her sentence behind bars.
People in Elephant Butte remember the scene vividly.
“Unbelievable. It was just crazy,” said Sheila Walker, a resident in the area.
Walker said she worked at a local gas station at the time where Ray and his coworkers would stop every morning for coffee.
Larry Fisher lived down the road from Ray’s home.
“We were shocked,” Fisher said.
They learned of the torture and murders David Parker Ray boasted of after investigators combed through what he called his “toy box,” a torture trailer filled with surgical tools, video cameras and even a gynecological chair wired to shock his victims.
“It didn’t take long for everyone to know that we were dealing with perhaps one of the most sick and twisted people in New Mexico history,” said Darren White, who was the Department of Public Safety Secretary at the time of Ray’s arrest.
It came to light in 1999 when a woman escaped, wearing only a steel collar around her neck with a chain.
“She ran down to the next house there, and they called the police,” Fisher said.
State Police Investigator Norman Rhoades took KRQE News 13’s crew to see what’s left of Ray’s place.
A sign out front shows the property, just around the corner from the lake, is for sale.
“The chamber was parked kind of where that propane tank is, in that area,” Rhoades said as he pointed it out.
Though he talked about burying bodies, Ray was not a convicted killer.
Before dying of a heart attack in 2002, he was convicted of kidnapping and sexually torturing women. So, too, was his lesser-known accomplice and girlfriend, Cindy Hendy.
“Were you involved in any way?” a reporter asked in 1999 following her arrest.
“No… Kind of but…” Hendy responded.
“Kind of?” the reporter asked.
“Yeah,” she said.
After taking a plea deal on charges of kidnapping and rape for her role in what happened at Ray’s Elephant Butte home, Hendy was sentenced in 2000 to 36 years behind bars.
“She was just as much responsible for what took place in Elephant Butte than David Parker Ray,” former DPS Secretary White said.
Hendy’s plea deal came three months before a new law went into effect, requiring violent offenders to serve 85 percent of their sentence even if they get credit for being on their best behavior.
Instead, Hendy spent half, about 18 years, behind bars, and the Parole Board told KRQE News 13 that Hendy can now submit a plan for where she will live when she is released.
Once they check it out and approve it, she will be out on parole for two years.
“I wish she would spend the rest of her life in prison,” White said.
Questions linger about how much she knows of unsolved murders.
Ray told her he killed as many as 40 women.
In court documents, Hendy wrote: I wanted to give a polygraph or undergo hypnosis for clues of burial dump sites that David showed me. I had been drinking the morning David took me to a burial site supposedly with three women buried there.
Read a letter from Cindy Hendy’s 2006 petition asking a judge to reconsider her sentence >>
KRQE News 13 asked Investigator Rhoades if Hendy may still have information that could shed light on other, unknown victims of Ray.
“I think she gave us everything she knew,” he said.
Rhoades said, for a chance at less prison time, Hendy went with him to point out burial sites.
“He never, that we know of, took her to a place and said, ‘Right there is a victim that’s buried.’ It’s always like, ‘Yeah, out there.’ We went out and searched the area, we spent a lot of time but uh… It’s a needle in a haystack,” Rhoades said.
“Do you think it will ever be solved?” KRQE News 13 asked Rhoades.
“No, I don’t think so,” he responded. “Just a big case with a lot of questions and very little answers.”
While in prison in Grants, the Corrections Department tells KRQE News 13 that Hendy was found guilty in 2008 of having stolen property.
Officials also said that last year in prison in Springer, she was charged but found not guilty of having drugs.
At last check, the Parole Board told KRQE News 13 it is still waiting on residence plans from Hendy.
Parole Board Executive Director Joann Martinez said if and when she is released, Hendy will likely be on a GPS monitor and be under a high-level of supervision as a sex offender.