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Probe Widens in N.M. Torture Case

March 31, 1999

ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (AP) _ A woman accused in a bizarre kidnap-sexual torture case told an acquaintance she joined her boyfriend in the tortures for the adrenalin rush.

John Branaugh also said Cindy Lea Hendy told him four to six people had been killed, mutilated and dumped in Elephant Butte Lake, 150 miles south of Albuquerque _ and that more bodies were buried in the desert.

There has been no indication from police that bodies have been found, but authorities have not ruled out the possibility of homicides.

``This is a very dark, very disturbing case for everyone involved,″ state Public Safety Secretary Darren White said Tuesday.

The FBI said more than 100 investigators would follow leads across at least three states in a case White described as ``so vile″ that he feared victims may not wish to come forward.

But he said: ``We believe the nightmare is behind bars.″

David Parker Ray, 59, and Ms. Hendy, 39, have been charged with 25 counts, including kidnapping, aggravated battery and conspiracy.

The case began to unfold when an Albuquerque woman escaped from the home March 22 wearing only a padlocked metal collar attached to a chain.

She told authorities she had been kidnapped and tortured over three days, finally breaking free while Ray was away. Ms. Hendy hit her with a lamp, and she lashed back with an ice pick, according to an affidavit filed Tuesday.

Photos found at the house include a picture of her, restrained and stretched with ``torture instruments,″ investigators said.

After her escape, a woman from nearby Truth or Consequences came forward with a similar story. She said she entered the couple’s house last month looking for cake mix, and was bound to a table, molested with a sexual device, jolted with electrodes attached to her breasts and forced to perform oral sex on Ray.

She said she persuaded her captors, whom she apparently knew, to release her Feb. 21 along a highway. Charges in her case were brought Tuesday.

Albert Costales, Ray’s attorney, has said his client is innocent.

Branaugh said the couple kept torture devices in a wood and glass case they called ``the toy box,″ and that Ms. Hendy told him she participated for the ``adrenalin rush.″

Branaugh said he initially didn’t believe Ms. Hendy because she made the remarks while drunk. He said he told police after seeing a television report about the case.

Ms. Hendy, who has three children in the Seattle area, moved to New Mexico in 1997 to avoid arrest, her son told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

``I’m still shocked. I can’t really believe it. She ain’t the person who would do this kind of thing,″ said Shane Larson, 22.

Ms. Hendy was a suspect in a Seattle-area equipment theft in 1995, and reportedly had been charged with forgery, drug possession and posession of stolen property since 1979.

Investigators have examined the dusty half-acre lot around Ray’s double-wide trailer home for several days, and the search for victims and witnesses now covers Arizona, Texas and northern Mexico.

Bone fragments found in Ray’s yard were not human, police said. They said they had no immediate plans to dig in Ray’s yard or drag nearby Elephant Butte Lake.

Elephant Butte is a sleepy town in the shadow of the Sierra Caballo mountains, heavily reliant on lake-based tourism. The influx of national media and authorities has overwhelmed the 2,500 residents in a community with one stoplight, a few shops and trailers along dirt roads.

``We feel violated,″ Mayor Bob Barnes said at a town meeting Tuesday night. ``Things have just crashed in on us.″

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