Imagine living in a house that fairly recently doubled as both a home for a serial killer and the torture chamber for his victims? That situation was a reality for St. Louis, Missouri’s Catrina McGhaw, who found out about her new home’s grisly past by watching a television documentary, according to the St. Louis CBS News affiliate KMOV.
Maury Travis, a 36 year-old hotel waiter, was the serial killer who lived in the home during 2002, and used the house’s basement to kill and torture between 12 and 20 women.
The police started to investigate Travis after he sent an encrypted letter to a local St. Louis newspaper in which he confessed to killing 17 women. Police then searched his home and found a video that showed Travis killing, raping and torturing his female victims.
“This is the first kill. No. 1. First kill was 19 years old. Name — I don’t know. I don’t give a fuck,” Travis said in the video while killing a victim.
Maury Travis was never actually convicted of killing his victims because he committed suicide in prison before his trial in 2002.
Catrina McGhaw did not know about this story when she bought the house, and only learned about its history when a friend told her to watch a documentary about the killer that was being aired on television.
McGhaw saw a great deal of her home’s furniture in the documentary’s footage of the crime scene that was left over from the previous owner, including her dining room table, and the large, wooden beams that were located in McGhaw’s basement, which were used by Travis to tie up his female victims.
McGhaw was probably not informed of the vicious murders that took place in her home a few years prior to her leasing the home because the person who sold her the home was the serial killer’s own mother, Sandra Travis.
After seeing the documentary, McGhaw frantically tried to rescind her lease to the house, but Sandra Travis initially refused. In Missouri, there is no law to disclose information about a home’s history, so Sandra Travis had some success in trying to refuse McGhaw’s attempt to end the lease.
After Cheryl Lovell, the executive director of the St. Louis Housing Authority, entered into the negotiations between McGhaw and Travis, the lease was finally ended and McGhaw was able to move out.
So, when buying or leasing your next home, check to see if there is a duty to disclose information about a home’s history in your state. If there is not, then make sure to do plenty of research about its history, or else you may end up like Catrina McGhaw, watching someone murder people in the basement of your home on television.