Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder Cop: A Profile of Vernon J. Geberth

Sexual Homicides

Thanks to his prominent position in the investigative community, Geberth has access to evidence from some of the most shocking cases ever investigated in this country.  The work of David Parker Ray and Maury Travis are among the most chilling.  Both men tortured their victims before killing them, and both kept videotapes of what they had done, which Geberth describes in detail in Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation.

Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation by Vernon Geberth
Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation by Vernon Geberth

In New Mexico in 1999, a naked woman who'd run from her tormenter had a horrifying story to report: a man had kidnapped her and used all kinds of torture instruments on her before she'd managed to get away.  Authorities arrested David Parker Ray, 60, who clearly experienced sexual pleasure from the pain he inflicted on his victims.  While he applied various implements, he photographed and videotaped what he was doing, referring to the prostitutes he'd kidnapped as his slaves.  He employed psychological terrorism to enhance his pleasure, using the torture tapes of prior victims to let each captive know what was in store for her, and when he tired of the game, he'd kill them and dump their bodies in rural areas or in a lake.

David Parker Ray
David Parker Ray

His girlfriend, Cindy Hendy, participated in these gruesome sessions with him, as did his daughter, Glenda Ray.  When police searched Ray's property, they found a trailer (the "play box") filled with instruments of torture, chains, locks, collars, dildos, whips, bondage materials, S&M drawings, and surgical instruments.  There were also a gynecology chair with restraints, jumper cables, electrical wires, a video camera and a monitor.   Ray had also drawn up a protocol for handling his "slaves."

Hendy testified against Ray, his daughter, and a partner, Roy Yancy.  Ray was charged with a variety of crimes related to kidnapping and rape.  He died in 2002 in prison, a suspect in several murders.  The number of his victims will never be known.

As Geberth was writing these cases into Sex-Related Homicide, he found that he had sometimes had to put the work down and take a break.  "It got to me a couple of times.  I didn't realize how bad it was until I was viewing videotapes of women being tortured and killed.  I watched those tapes and tried to describe the dynamics.  It took three years to write because I had to keep putting it down.  My wife usually reads my stuff, and I gave her something from this book to read.  And I saw her face change.  She put it down and looked at me with this really sad look and said, 'Vernon, I can't read this.'  I realized then that I had gone too deep into it.  I had so clinicized and insulated myself against it that I didn't see it as that bad."

And yet, the ability to do that makes it possible to analyze the cases and teach the methods for improving investigations.  "Those of us who can look at it are not stronger or smarter than other people.  By clinicizing, we do what surgeons do.  We see the process rather than the person.  I believe in what I'm doing for my colleagues, who need to have a frame of reference for this evil so they can effectively investigate these types of felons. Just look at what Dennis Rader as the "BTK" killer was capable of and one can readily understand this need.  I have a strong belief in God and the concept of good and evil.  You have to have a belief in a higher authority to function properly. The psychopath cannot submit himself to a higher authority." 

Another case covered in the seminar that specializes in sexual murders is the following, sent to Geberth from detective Roy Douglas, who had been to a number of Geberth's classes and implemented the procedures of practical homicide investigation as he investigated it.

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