Tenant Sees Home on TV, Learns Serial Murderer Killed Women There

FERGUSON, Missouri — It sounds like a made-for-TV movie, but instead it’s a real life nightmare for one St. Louis woman.

It’s a typical North County ranch house on a tree-lined street.

Catrina McGhaw signed the lease without worry. Her Section 8 voucher covered $810 in rent. Until a family member told McGhaw to check out a cold case documentary about serial killers airing on the A&E network.

McGhaw is living in the same Ferguson, Missouri house serial killer Maury Travis used as a torture chamber. The landlord even gave her the dining room table; the same one from the crime scene photos.

“When she showed us the house, she said you can have this table if you want,” McGhaw said.

But it’s what happened downstairs that freaks her out the most. That’s where Travis recorded some of his crimes; at one point he sent the St. Louis Post Dispatch a map to identify victim #17. Some of the victims were tied to a pole in the basement.

“This whole basement was his torture chamber and it’s not okay,” she said.

McGhaw called her landlord, begging to get out of the lease, but the landlord wasn’t sympathetic.

Turns out the landlord is the killer’s mom.

“She said ‘no you signed a lease you need to stay there until the lease is up.”’

News 4 called Travis’ mother; she claims she told McGhaw about the home’s dark past. McGhaw says that’s not true, she would have remembered the people murdered in the basement part.

A local agent said murders, suicides and violent crimes don’t require disclosure – only material defects need to be noted.

Although News 4 couldn’t get Travis’ mom to budge, the St. Louis Housing Authority did.  McGhaw says she will be moving at the end of July, which can’t come soon enough.

She says things keep getting weirder, and can’t stop thinking about an incident with a two year old relative that was playing in the basement near the pole where Travis tied up his victims.

“She looked over and she was like she’s scared like she saw somebody scared and crying and nobody was there, nobody there,” McGhaw recalled.

It’s not clear how many woman Maury Travis murdered. He killed himself in the St. Louis County Jail in 2002.

15 comments

  • Justice

    I think you should have to disclose things like this to either a tenant or a buyer. There should be better laws to protect people from this.

    • A Sickened Citizen

      It really sickens me how people try and be rude when its not needed. The world always brings out the negatives of peoples life without knowing their situation. A family member told her to check it out doesn’t necessarily mean she watched it on her TV. She could have watched it somewhere else. (WE DON’T KNOW). Also I work with low income people needing houses. One program is where we focus on the individual going to school but the rent is paid for 1 year (They pay utilities and we provide cable/internet). In the long run this helps if the individuals follow the program right. Lets say she did pay for cable though and is on section 8. Oh well! Cable cost what 80 dollars a month? You don’t know her situation so stop downing people. Hopefully she will get on her feet, out that house, and off section 8. Oh and for the person that wrote the article they honestly didn’t even have to put that in. Its irrelevant to the story. Just trying to make another African American individual look bad.

    • Kyra

      I want to say “I know, right?” but I HATE when people say that. However, I’ll say it anyway.

    • Robin A. Hull

      Actually, she didn’t, Mr. Law. According to the article, a family member told her about it.

    • A Sickened Citizen

      It really sickens me how people try and be rude when its not needed. The world always brings out the negatives of peoples life without knowing their situation. A family member told her to check it out doesn’t necessarily mean she watched it on her TV. She could have watched it somewhere else. (WE DON’T KNOW). Also I work with low income people needing houses. One program is where we focus on the individual going to school but the rent is paid for 1 year (They pay utilities and we provide cable/internet). In the long run this helps if the individuals follow the program right. Lets say she did pay for cable though and is on section 8. Oh well! Cable cost what 80 dollars a month? You don’t know her situation so stop downing people. Hopefully she will get on her feet, out that house, and off section 8. Oh and for the person that wrote the article they honestly didn’t even have to put that in. Its irrelevant to the story. Just trying to make another African American individual look bad.

  • Hard Working Single Mom

    Information like that needs to be said to the person wanting to buy or rent a home. No one shouldn’t find out by watching tv. Some of the comments I’ve seen. Seriously, people grow up. You act like you are high school or in preschool. Don’t judge the landlord. She have been the killer’s mom but that doesn’t make a bad person. She may have hurt, pain, and guilt for what her son did to these women. Her son may have been a bad person but doesn’t make her a bad person. Awesome parents do have kids that turned out to be bad people and it’s not always the parents fault. Don’t judge the tenant for having section 8. She may be a hard working single mom and getting help from her kids dad and she maybe she can afford and fit it into her budget for cable. Some cheap basic cable do offer certain channels. There are people who do work hard and try and do need some assistance from the government. Then there are people who don’t work hard and don’t try and they abuse and use the system. I see both of these people. I rather my taxes go to people who try as they use their own money they make from working to pay what they have.

    • ALSO a Hard Working Mom

      I agree to an extent with what you are saying, Mom. I realize that good people end up in bad situations. But, I know that I work full time to support my kids. I haven’t had cable in over 15 years as it is an expense I simply can’t afford. I don’t have an iphone either. My kids don’t have smart phones or ipods. Seems like other people live better off of my earnings then I do.

  • Jim

    section 8 rent, but can’t do with over the air TV?

    sounds like they didn’t gibs her what she deserves

  • Debra Lowe

    That house should be torn down. People that pass that place most likely have horrible memories of it. Just tear it down.

  • Kent Arnold

    The landlord was certainly NOT “innocent” as some of you clame. Offering to GIVE her a table used in severe crimes? That’s just SICK and DEMENTED. I don’t care how nice a table or desk is, if there was human blood shed on it(barring cutting yourself by accident or while tending a wound), the only thing I’d do is break it apart and take it to the dumpster. It’s just sick expecting someone to use something like that. So … that makes the Landlord a rather sick person to begin with. Then she tried to hide behind the law when the FACTS about the house were revealed and tried to lie when outsiders were brought into the situation. While they are not required to be disclosed they should be as there ARE people who are highly religious who would feel their beliefs had just been insulted(big no no). There are cultures that would consider it shameful to live in such a place, the Native Americans tend to have very strong feelings about places where people die(again, big no no, especially Native Americans).

    In the end however, it seems the law supported the tenant’s request. How the woman spent her money is of no importance here, what IS important is the landlord was quite twisted(“have this table, ignore the deep stains, they’re nothing important.” ie deep blood stains.) and then tried to cover up the facts when they were brought to light. She KNEW renting the place out would be very hard because of its reputation and she found a way to sell it by only disclosing what she was “legally required to do”.

    Shame on the landlord.

  • Val

    I just don’t understand when people freak out about finding out people have died in the home they own/rent, that they freak out and want to immediately move.
    Grow up, be an adult about it, and just live there like you were doing before.

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