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Digging Begins in N.M. Torture Case

April 1, 1999

ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (AP) _ Authorities began digging Wednesday around a trailer where two women say they were sexually tortured and the number of officers involved in the case increased to almost 100.

``We have not begun to do any major excavation. We are doing some selective digging by hand,″ FBI agent Doug Beldon said of the joint state-federal investigation into the torture allegations against David Parker Ray and Cynthia Lea Hendy.

Two women accused Ray and Ms. Hendy of holding them in chains separate days-long incidents of torture this winter. Ray, 59, and Ms. Hendy, 39, have been charged with 25 counts, including kidnapping, aggravated battery and conspiracy.

There has been no indication from police that bodies have been found, but authorities have not ruled out the possibility of homicides. An acquaintance said Ms. Hendy told him Ray had killed four to six people, mutilated the bodies and dumped them in Elephant Butte Lake, 150 miles south of Albuquerque.

She said other bodies were more buried in the desert, the acquaintance said.

Beldon said agents used hand shovels, metal detectors and electronic probes to measure soil density for any indication of recent excavation or burial. He said he expected the work at the couple’s trailer to wrap up within four days.

District Attorney Ron Lopez said defense attorneys Wednesday waived arraignment on the criminal complaint and set a tentative April 12 trial date.

Attorneys for both defendants say their clients are innocent.

Ray’s co-workers are flabbergasted by the allegations.

Glen Parks, a volunteer who works at the Elephant Butte State Park visitor center, said Ray was the ``neatest, cleanest, politest person you could ever want to meet.″

Ray was a maintenance worker at the state park for about five years, fixing vehicles and heavy machinery in a garage on the grounds.

Ms. Hendy wrote to a judge last December as part of a domestic complaint against a former boyfriend that she ``drinks too much″ and was on drugs to treat manic depression.

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