Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Screw the lease!

"Initially, the landlord was not willing to let her break the lease but we talked with her and eventually the landlord agreed to rescind the lease." stated Cheryl Lovell, the executive director of the St Louis Housing Authority.

It is a typical ranch home in Ferguson Missouri and Catrina McGhaw signed the lease for it in March 2014 without reservation.  She wasn't worried because her section 8 voucher would cover $810 of the monthly rent for her.  That was until someone called to tell her to watch a cold case program on television that shehe found out that the home on Ford Dr was once the scene of several murders.  That might be something that some people could tolerate but these murders had been committed by Maury Travis, who had been living in the house.  Worse still was the fact that her landlord was Maury's mother, Sandra Travis.

Travis, 36, was not just living in the house when he was committing his multiple murders.......... the basement had been used as a torture chamber for many of the victims.  McGhaw states that his mother, Sandra even gave her the dining room table when she moved in........ the very same table that is seen in crime scene photos taken in June of 2002.

While police believe that he was a serial killer, he was only charged with two counts of kidnapping at the time of his arrest.  He had been caught after sending a letter praising a local reporter for coverage of a woman's death and followed that with a map that was later linked to that had an X on it.  Police found that the X was where a woman's body was found.

Statistically, most serial killers are white and very few of them ever videotape their crimes.  Travis was in a very small minority.  Police confirmed that he had killed at least 12 women in the basement of the home in Ferguson and he claimed that he had killed more than 17.  This would be the same home that Travis's mother Sandra was renting out now.

"He said that I would never understand. He said he was born like this.  He said he'd been like this since he could remember," stated St Louis police officer Tim Sachs.

Travis was born on Oct 25 1965 and moved to Ferguson when he was 10 years old.  He was described as a very quiet kid growing up and graduated from high school in 1985.  After school, he served two years in the Army Reserve, worked as a dental and medical assistant, worked with various trucking companies and volunteered at a local nursing home.  By 1987, when he was 22, he enrolled in Morris Brown College in Atlanta and then began using cocaine.

While he was home on spring break of March 1988, he robbed five shoe stores for the cash he needed to feed his $300 a day habit.  He pleaded guilty to the five robberies in Jan 1989 and asked the judge for leniency since he had completed drug rehab and he had only used a toy gun in the hold-ups.  U S Rep William L Clay had also written to the judge asking for leniency for Travis.  On July 5 1089, the judge sentenced Travis to 15 years in prison and within months, he wrote to the judge to reduce his sentence because of the horrible conditions.  Travis was paroled on June 14 1994 after serving five years, most of which he worked in the food and sanitation section.

For the next few years, Travis went back to prison twice for drug related charges and worked at various restaurant jobs.  During the summers of 2000 and 2001 though, he was a waiter in the restaurant in the Mayfair Hotel.  After police had arrested him for the suspected killings, they found that he showed no remorse or feelings of guilt for what he had done.

On July 31 2000, the body of Mary Shields, 61, was found in East St Louis and is believed to be his first victim.  On April 1 2001, the body of Alysa Greenwade, 34, was found in Washington Park.  On May 15, the body of  Teresa Wilson, 36, was found in West Alton.  On May 25, the body of Betty James, 46, was found in St Louis.  Police were able to match a tire print on her leg to Travis's car and she is visible in a videotape of his.

On June 29 2001, the body of Verona Thompson, 36, was found in West Alton less than 20 feet from where Wilson was found.  On Oct 25 the body of Yvonne Crues, 50 and on Oct 8 the body of  Brenda Beasley, 33, were both found in East St Louis and both linked to Travis through DNA. From Jan 2002 to March 2002, three unidentified women's bodies were found Highland, Mascoutah and Columbia IL which police believe were also Travis's victims.

Travis had tortured his victims in the basement of the home.  He also had numerous video tapes of him and prostitutes that he had picked up along a strip of broad just north of St Louis.  Many of the tapes show him giving the women crack cocaine and then having consensual sex with them.  Some of the women he let go while others he took downstairs, tied with rope and handcuffs and put duct tape over their eyes.  He verbally assaults them on the tapes and one tapes shows him strangling a woman to death.  Police had thought they saw bloodstains on the basement walls and floor in the tapes and they later found that there was blood between the various paint layers there.  He had even built makeshift cells down there as well from plans that police had found in the home

McGhaw called her landlord after finding out about the history of the house and asked to get out of her lease.  The reply she got was no.  Sandra Travis felt that a lease was a lease and there was no reason for getting out of it.  When News 4 called Sandra, she claimed that she had told McGhaw about the basement.  I doubt I would forget if someone mentioned something like that to me and McGhaw states that she was never told.

The housing authority did help McGhaw in getting out of her lease of the "death house" and she can move out by August 1st.  Some states have laws for disclosure but even then, it may only apply to a house that is being purchased.  Missouri has no law to force disclosure in a rental.

Seriously though.......... the fact that your own son happened to torture and murder women in the basement of the house should tell you that it probably isn't worth renting or selling.  I don't really understand why the same kitchen table would still be in the house that many years after the murders, unless she just couldn't bear to be without until now.

Oh and Maury Travis........ he made good on his statement that he would not go back to prison.  He hung himself in prison, days after he had been arrested.  The mom that he cared so much for, Sandra.  She has filed a lawsuit because the jail had failed in preventing her son from killing himself.  Can I just say........ wtf?  Does money mean that much to you?


man its about time!!!!! said...

This is terrible. That house should be torn down.

Val said...

Common sense would state that it should be torn down but unfortunately, there may be little that can be done to force his mother to tear it down, especially if it meets all the zoning and housing codes.

jackie sanders said...

The Mom should live in it.

Sarah Gonzales said...

For all we know, we're living in houses and tenements where ppl have been butchered.

Jennifer Harvey said...

This is such a sad story...