You never know what you're going to find when you move into a new home. The last time I moved, I found asbestos (good thing there are all those lawyer ads on TV), but a Missouri woman found something much more sinister: Her home had been used as a torture chamber. And she didn't learn it from the landlord.
Catrina McGhaw had no idea that the home she had moved into in March had anything to do with a serial killer and her landlord, Sandra Travis, didn't tell her. That's likely because Travis is the mother of Maury Travis, a man who was suspected of killing 12 to 20 women. Maury Travis killed himself while in jail, but police believe that many of the women, who were tortured before being murdered, were killed in the basement of the home McGhaw rented.
McGhaw only learned about the connection to murders when her friend called her and told her to watch a documentary about serial-killers. That must have actually been really terrifying. I can't imagine someone calling me up and saying "there's this doc on murder you need to see before you do anything else" (my friends speak only in Upworthy headlines) and feeling okay about anything. When McGhaw watched the video, she learned that the basement of her home had been used to hold and torture women.
The following video, detailing Travis' crimes is both NSFW and very disturbing:
Maury Travis was never charged for any of the killings that he has been accused of, but police were able to find him after he wrote a letter to a newspaper boasting about killing 17 people. Police were able to trace a map that Travis included with the letter back to his computer because he had used a web application to create it. The map was meant to lead to the body of one of the victims.
When police searched Travis' home, they found holding cells in the basement and videos of Travis torturing the victims. Travis was charged with two counts of kidnapping (which could have led to the death penalty). He hanged himself in his cell before he could be tried.
When McGhaw tried to break her lease, Travis' mother refused, saying that she had told McGhaw what had gone on in the house. That seems a little hard to believe, especially considering how few people (I know there are some) would voluntarily move into a home that had previously been used as a death chamber ("but the original crown moulding will make up for all of that!"). The housing authority agreed with McGhaw and convinced her landlord to break the lease.
It's important to note that, according to housing authorities, Missouri does not have any laws regarding disclosure and that Travis' mother had no legal responsibility to tell McGha about the murders. Still, this story makes me think that there should be public service announcements for such thing. Asking whether someone had been brutally murdered in a home I'm about to rent is basically the first thing I do. (But I am also very neurotic.)
McGhaw will move at the end of July.
Image via KMOV