We're all familiar with images you can't unsee, but there are disturbing audio recordings out there that will also scar your psyche. Perhaps the most disturbing example is the David Parker Ray tape. David Parker Ray, also known as the Toy Box Killer, was a serial rapist, torturer, and suspected serial killer who died in 2002. Ray is believed to have tortured and murdered multiple of women in his soundproofed trailer. After strapping down a victim, he liked to draw out the torture by first playing a cassette tape that discussed in graphic detail what the victim was about to endure.
The David Parker Ray tape and eight other disturbing pieces of audio can be found below, along with descriptions that provide context for each recording. But beware, readers and listeners. You will not be able to unhear these clips once you listen—they are NOT for sensitive ears.
1. The David Parker Ray Tape, a.k.a. The Toy Box Tape (Warning: Graphic)
Serial rapist and suspected serial killer David Parker Ray would play this audio recording, known as the David Parker Ray tape or Toy Box tape, to his female prisoners shortly before raping and torturing them. The disturbing detail captured on the recording is enough to make your skin crawl and the degrading way in which he refers to his victims is enough to make your blood boil. The detached, instructional voice Ray employs on the recording points toward the total lack of remorse he felt toward his victims—to him, it was all part of a sick and twisted game.
Accused by his accomplices of killing several people, investigators believe David Parker Ray may have murdered upwards of fifty people from New Mexico and Arizona between the mid-1980s until his arrest in 1999. A soundproofed truck trailer kept on his Elephant Butte, New Mexico property—which Ray called his Toy Box—served as his sex dungeon and the setting for many of his crimes. The construction reportedly cost him $100,000 and was filled with an array of sexual torture devices. Among the items found within was a gynecologist’s table, whips, pulleys, saws, surgical blades, and an electricity generating device. After years of unspeakable brutality, Ray was finally caught in 1999. His arrest was the result of an escaped victim, who ran to a nearby home and reported her ordeal to the police.
As the FBI expanded their investigation into Ray’s criminal activity and news about the case spread, more women who had escaped Ray’s torture chamber came forward with their accounts. Some had gone to the police, who failed to follow up on their reports. Others were uncertain as to whether what they remembered actually happened or was some monstrous nightmare. This was likely due to the fact that Ray often drugged his victims to induce amnesia in an attempt to cover his tracks.
After the 1999 arrest of David Parker Ray, he was put on trail. Prosecutors secured a conviction against him for kidnapping and torture in 2001. Authorities, meanwhile, scoured his property for human remains. They had found clues of multiple killings, including entries in Ray's diary where he described murdering women. In May 2002, Ray was transported to the Lee County Correctional Facility in Hobbes, New Mexico to be questioned by state police, but died of a heart attack before the interrogation could commence. With David Parker Ray dead and no remains thus far recovered, the case went quiet. However, in 2011, FBI spokesman Frank Fisher told the Albuquerque Journal that good leads were still coming in. "As long as we’re getting those leads, and as long as the exposure in the press keeps generating interest in the case, we’re going to keep investigating this."
2. The Jonestown Tape
Taking place at The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, the Jonestown Massacre is frequently regarded as one of the largest mass suicides in history. However, the tragedy’s few survivors have referred to the event as mass murder due to the duress individuals were put under during the event.
In the recording, you’ll hear Jim Jones, leader of the Peoples Temple, speaking to his congregation on November 18, 1978. That, of course, was the day Jones ordered 900 people to die at an established commune in a remote area of northwestern Guyana, a Temple-run building in Guyana's capital, and the nearby Port Kaituma airstrip. The “reverend,” who labeled his congregation “apostolic socialists” and the act a “revolutionary suicide,” started his People’s Temple in the 1950s, moving it between Indiana and California before taking it to South America.
The mass murder (including the deaths of more than 300 children) was carried out by putting cyanide poisoning in Flavor Aid and Kool-Aid mixes, giving rise to the contemporary expression “don’t drink the Kool-aid”. Jones had called for “mock” mass suicides prior to November 18, leading some of his followers to believe that the actual event was just as fake as those before it. However, suffering from extreme paranoia, the effects of drug abuse, and increasing outside pressure from a U.S. congressman, Jones ordered the mass murder of his cult members before shooting himself.
The final straw for Jones was the investigation by Congressman Leo Ryan, who flew to the Guyana complex to check into abuse claims. Ryan and about 15 defectors were due to fly back to the United States on the 8th. Jones had a loyal follower kill as many of the investigators and defectors as possible that morning, then began preparations for the final mass suicide.
3. The Golden State Killer Tape
Accused of committing at least 45 rapes and 12 murders between 1976 and 1986, the Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist or the Original Night Stalker, was a serial rapist and murderer who remained at large for decades. Then, in April 2018, California authorities made a surprise announcement in their 40-year investigation. A 72-year-old U.S. Navy veteran named Joseph James DeAngelo was under arrest and charged with eight counts of murder. Based on DNA evidence, it is strongly believed that he was the Golden State Killer. DeAngelo was later charged with an additional 13 counts of kidnapping attempts.
Investigators believe the Golden State Killer started his crime spree by robbing single women who lived alone in ground floor apartments. He then escalated to rape and murder. In December 1977, a taunting letter and poem entitled "Excitement's Crave" were sent to the editor of The Sacramento Bee by an individual claiming to be the killer. The following year, journal entries and an essay on General George Armstrong Custer were found at the scene of a crime. The Golden State Killer also called many of his victims before he attacked. The recording above contains one of those recovered calls. Michelle McNamara's bestselling true crime account of the Golden State Killer case—a nickname she coined, by the way—is called I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer and is a must-read for true crime obsessives.
4. The “Weepy-Voiced” Serial Killer
Paul Michael Stephani was a Minneapolis–Saint Paul area serial killer known for his weepy admissions of guilt, earning him the nickname the “Weepy-Voiced Killer.” Stephani killed three women and admitted to assaulting two others over the course of nearly two years between 1980 and 1982. Two of his victims were from the Wisconsin area—the youngest only 18 years old. Following each attack, Stephani would supposedly be overcome by guilt over his actions and call emergency services. Crying hysterically, he would admit to the exact crime and often gave the 911 dispatcher a specific location to find (and ideally save) his victims. After he killed Kimberly Compton, an 18-year-old student from Wisconsin, Stephani phoned police, saying, “God damn, will you find me? I just stabbed somebody with an ice pick. I can’t stop myself. I keep killing somebody.”
Stephani would be caught after his last attempted victim got away. Stephani offered a 19-year-old Minneapolis woman a ride in late August of 1982, but his victim sensed something was wrong when the man began driving away from the city and into a dark, suburban area. Stephani stabbed the young woman 15 times with a screwdriver. She managed to escape after hitting Stephani over the head with a glass bottle. Upon arriving home, Stephani realized he was hurt and reached out to emergency services. The hospital quickly realized that his wounds linked him to his victim, who had also sought medical help. During his trial for the murder of one woman, Stephani’s sister, ex-wife, and a woman who was living with him at the time testified that they believed the voice on the recordings was his—and that he was the killer. He eventually admitted to his crimes, 20 years after he was convicted and sentenced to prison.
5. The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel
In 1975, the exorcism of Anneliese Michel began. The young German woman had been suffering from what she and her parents believed was possession since the age of 16. The seven-year-long possession caused Anneliese to have convulsions, seizures, hallucinations, and to hear voices. Eventually, she began to balk away from religious objects and locations, cementing the idea that the devil was inside her for her family.
After many years of this supposed possession, and no change in behavior thanks to psychiatric drugs, Anneliese’s parents consulted a number of priests. At first unable to find a priest who would perform an exorcism, Anneliese continued to suffer. Finally, they met Ernst Alt, who began the exorcism they craved on September 24, 1975. After 67 sessions with the priest, Anneliese died on July 1, 1976 of malnutrition and starvation. Eventually, tapes from these sessions surfaced on the internet. The original is in German, but you can read a full, disturbing transcript here. Listening to the strange tone in her voice is utterly terrifying, even when you don’t understand the language.
6. The WKCR Incident
Categorized as a Broadcast Signal Intrusion (similar to that of the weird Max Headroom incident), the hijacking of Columbia University’s radio station, captured in the above audio, will probably give you a few chills or, more likely, entirely freak you out. Allegedly recorded sometime between 1994 and 1995, the voice on the recording are largely drowned out by overlapping and clashing sounds that when they mix are somewhat terrifying. But don’t let those sounds distract you from the freakiest part of the recording: a monotone voice reading out what many have identified as obituaries. At one point, the name of Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, is mentioned. A victim of the Pan AM Flight 103 and the date of August 22, 1985—the date of a British airways disaster—are also mentioned, delivering more questions than answers.
7. Ghost Tape Number 10
Unlike the last tape, Ghost Tape Number 10 has a known source: the United State military. Also called “Operation Wandering Soul,” the haunting recording was produced during the Vietnam War as an unconventional tool of warfare. U.S. engineers spent weeks gathering and recording the eerie sounds and altering voices, which were meant to sound like killed Vietcong soldiers.
It was played during the night out along the edge of the U.S. perimeter in order to frighten Northern Vietnamese soldiers, who were commonly believed to be incredibly superstitious. Some recordings, which were occasionally broadcasted by way of helicopter, were intended to trick Vietcong into believing their fallen fellow soldiers, who had not received respectful, proper burials, were wandering the Earth. Other voices were supposedly of ancestors of the soldiers encouraging them to cease fighting. It’s unclear how successful the effort to instill emotional turmoil in the enemy was.
8. The Swedish Rhapsody Numbers Station
Another military operation, the Swedish Rhapsody Number Station was used during the Cold War as a means of transmitting messages through a coded channel. Number stations were created for the purpose of broadcasting a code via a series of numbers over shortwave radio signals. The open broadcast allowed a spy to tune into the correct frequency and record a numerical code which would then be interpreted, typically with a one-time use code pad.
Although number stations were fairly common, especially during the Cold War, the Swedish Rhapsody station has gained notoriety thanks to the creepy voice reading off the numbers. The voice sounds like a young girl—it was later discovered to be that of the “Sprach” machine. The Swedish Rhapsody station stopped broadcasting after the fall of Communism in Russia, but recently, it has started once more...
9. The Last Flight of Vladimir Komarov
In Russia’s desperation to win the space race, cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov would become a casualty whose recorded death was as sad as it is unnerving. The Soviet test pilot and engineer was a trailblazer, commanding Voskhod 1, the first spaceflight responsible for carrying more than a single crew member.
He would also become the first cosmonaut to fly in space twice after being selected as the solo pilot of Soyuz 1, the world’s first manned test flight of a new spacecraft. That flight would deliver one more first and put an end to many others, at least for the Soviets, as Komarov became the first human to die in a space flight. Solar panel malfunctions, interrupted high frequency communications, faulty ions sensors and a main parachute that wouldn’t launch were among the many mechanical and engineering failures that marred that final flight on April 24, 1967.
Ironically, Komarov and others working on the mission had expressed that there were very serious issues with the engineering of the craft, but Soviet officials were far more interested in getting the craft into the air than the safety of their space crew. When Komarov said that he wouldn’t fly, he was told that his backup would then take his place. To prevent a fellow cosmonaut from dying, Komarov agreed to go into space. Before he was launched, he asked for an open casket funeral. If the flight went as poorly as he believed, he wanted people to face the impact of their decision.
The audio, above, is supposedly from Komarov’s final, terrified descent back to earth. Historians have not yet come to an agreement about the veracity of the recording, and the lack of access to Russian records only makes confirming the recording more difficult.