Woman shocked to learn her house was once serial killer’s torture chamber

ST. LOUIS — It sounds like a made-for-TV movie, but instead it was a real life nightmare for one St. Louis woman.

When Catrina McGhaw signed the lease  on her typical North County ranch house, she had few worries. Her Section 8 voucher covered the $810 rent.

But soon a family member told McGhaw to check out a cold case documentary about serial killers airing on A&E.

McGhaw then discovered the house she rented was once the home serial killer Maury Travis used as a torture chamber. The landlord even gave McGhaw the same dining room table seen in 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 freaked 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 said her landlord was not 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.”’

Travis’ mother later told news reporters she told McGhaw about the home’s dark past. McGhaw said that was 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.

The St. Louis Housing Authority intervened on McGhaw’s behalf. McGhaw said she will be allowed to break her lease at the end of July.

She said she can’t stop thinking about an incident with a two-year-old relative who 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.

Source: KMOV

Trademark and Copyright 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Filed in: News


  • manalishi

    ” Her Section 8 voucher covered the $810 rent.” Sooo,,, Complaining about a freebie? Exactly what would more would she prefer on the taxpayers dime? Mcmansion? Penthouse at Trump Towers? Perhaps a waterfront condo would suffice for her majesty.

    • Filbert

      I think this is an appropriate point for Lebowski to point out that you’re not wrong, but you do happen to be an a-hole.

    • MEGAN

      How do you know she gets section 8? trust and believe there are plenty of white people getting section 8. Another reason they have big homes are because they continue to file bankruptcy and start all over again. I’m sure that’s what you do, being that you’re always on here posting negativity. You can’t work, so you’re most likely collecting from the government as you claim every other race does ecept your own. You’re on here constantly so when do you spend time working and with family or friends. I get it!!!!! YOU HAVE NONE OF THE ABOVE, AND I CAN SEE WHY……..IDIOT!!!!!!!

      • manalishi

        #1, I tend to use quotation marks when quoting (as was taught in elementary school). Guess you missed it.
        #2 I did’t (and usually don’t) mention race. That’s how I watch primitive minds assume and wander.
        #3 I have never filed bankruptcy and have no debt.
        #4 I tend to post on negative things in a negative way because it is negative. Think about it.
        #5 I work full time. (and scan several news sources throughout the day)
        #6 I do not collect from the government. (although every paycheck get raped by them)
        #7 I have never disclosed my race. (So simple minds can publicly assume)
        #8 I have some family. (mostly elsewhere)
        #9 I have many friends as well as business associates.
        #10 No, you don’t “get it”.
        Since reality of your statements have been wrong 10 out of 10 times, I can therefore place my bets that based on statistics, ratio’s & 5th grade math with accuracy. Your a stereotypical democrat.

    • Victoria

      She could have used her section 8 voucher to search for s different location. You are assuming that she doesn’t have a job and doesn’t pay taxes. I work for a realestate broker. Most of these people have jobs. Also, even though a property owner accepts section 8, that does not mean that the property is for section 8 holders only, and anyone can move in. The owner should have disclosed the information.

    • paula

      Manalishi it. don’t. matter how she pay for her house she should have been told the truth about the house. Would you live in a house like that. You probably would because you have no heart. The mother should be made to live. in the house since dhe lie.

      • RIF

        Ummm, I think it does matter that taxpayers are paying for her house. If one is getting a free place to live it shouldn’t matter what happened in the house how many years ago. As long as the house is currently in good condition and habitable, it should be accepted without complaint. I would be grateful to have a place to live if I could not afford it any other way. Once I got on my feet and had enough money to pay for my own place, then maybe I would look for one that didn’t have the negative history to it. If I understood other reports correctly, there is no legal requirement for disclosure of such events, so apparently that doesn’t matter according to the law.

  • Gail

    Typical..complain about a FREE place to live!!! As far as I’m concerned, she has no reason to complain about something she’s getting for free. If she doesn’t like what the money I work for is buying her then she should get a job & pay for what she wants just like the rest of us who work for a living!

      • manalishi

        Typical of the entitlement mindset would seem like a logical answer to a s**tty question like that.

    • pat

      What make you so sure that she is not working, she still could be working but not making enough to pay for the amount of the rent or all of the rent. There are a lot of single parents who are trying to work and take care of their children and she does have one child so she does have child care to worry about to . People is always putting down others people instead of encouraging them and giving them a help hand. But she should have been told about the house before she moved in and then it would have been her choice to move in or not. Some people would not been bother by it and others would be. I know as for me I probably would .

      • manalishi

        Yes, she could be working. But surely has a problem with freebies not being good enough, “People is always putting down others people instead of encouraging them and giving them a help hand.” $810 and utility subsidy,,,,Now I want to know how long we have been giving her the “help hand”. I hadn’t even considered it until you said we should be giving “them a help hand”. Now it’s become insulting.

    • David

      I pay a few times the average amount in annual taxes. I would hate that the money I pay in taxes for section 8 was misused because a few halfwits (manaishi, Gail, etc) insist that recipients should be grateful regardless if the property is worth the cost or not, and much less so if the property has such a gruesome history. I suspect that manalishi and Gail have the sophistication of animals and they could never understand. manalishi shouldn’t brag about his elementary school education, I bet it was free.

  • Maul Miles

    “Typical…complain about a Free place to live!!!” ….. Are you serious? Maybe you didn’t read the part about the serial killer murdering his victims in the home? I don’t think anybody could down that, free home or not.

  • Christina

    Most of y’all’s comments make no sense what so ever. First things first this is sick, the fact that the mother of the man who murdered 12-17 or more women in this home is renting this place out is sick. She should be ashamed about alot but mainly for raising an animal. But y’all are focusing on the section 8 and a free place to live bc tax payers are paying. So freaking what? Everyone pays taxes including people that get help from the state. But the matter here is sure she has a free place to live bc of section 8 but she also has a right to be uncomfortable in that environment esp since the wicked mother is the one renting it out to her. Focus on the actual problem here, the actual news story was not about her section 8 you low lifer.

    • Sir Frederick Johann Mercado

      @CHRISTINA, her mother does not need to be ashamed. What YOU do is up to you. You raise a child or children and try to teach them respect, love, honesty, and integrity. If they go to jail, its their fault, and their consequences. We hope they learn, but we live in a society where people KNOW they can break the rules and sometimes get away with it. Too much is hidden. Regardless, you sound like a illogical, frustrated, and dramatic teen.

    • athynz

      Why should this woman be ashamed to rent the house? Granted she should have disclosed the history – not doing so makes me question what else she didn’t disclose – but what else is she supposed to do with the house? As for her “raising an animal” there is more than enough proof that upbringing alone does not cause one to be violent.

      • Troll

        athynz will tell you that pit bulls are vicious by training, but people do not become monsters from by virtue of their upbringing or lack thereof. It must be nice to have expertise in so many arenas. One wonders how many areas of advanced studies athynz has completed.

      • athynz

        It’s called common sense David – something you lack. Along with common courtesy and intelligence. So why do you beat your dog?

      • manalishi

        Troll/David gets another court appointed attorney? i thought this was a no parole state. Schitzo.

  • BO

    I’d live in a serial killer’s house provided I get a steep discount and they cleaned it up well.Ghosts do not come back and kill if they even exist.This whole someone died there is just as irrational as a fear of guns.

  • Sir Frederick Johann Mercado

    I agree with Bo. As long as they cleaned it up and it met section 8 standards so what? There is nothing to fear, or be grossed out with. Think about all the apartments that someone died, old or not, murder or suicide, and burned, etc. She is living for free, and as long as the state approves her housing, she needs to live there. IF it was on her own dime, break the lease and move out with penalty.

  • Sir Frederick Johann Mercado

    @CHRISTINA, her mother does not need to be ashamed. What YOU do is up to you. You raise a child or children and try to teach them respect, love, honesty, and integrity. If they go to jail, its their fault, and their consequences. We hope they learn, but we live in a society where people KNOW they can break the rules and sometimes get away with it. Too much is hidden. Regardless, you sound like a illogical, frustrated, and dramatic teen.

    • Lee

      Then your crazy a** live there. I don’t care how much they clean it free or not, she don’t have to stay there if she don’t want to.

      • manalishi

        “she don’t have to stay there if she don’t want to.” Your right! She should trade places with a homeless combat veteran!

      • Troll

        manalishi what in the world are you doing referring to combat vets? You are a piece of work. More like POS.

      • manalishi

        Emphasis on homeless Troll. Them words get hard for you to put together sometimes. eave the weed alone.

  • Amy

    No one knows every little detail about her or her home. . only what they decided to release to the news. Her having a job or section 8 is not the concern. The concern became when she went in the basement and heard exactly what it was that she heard that made her feel uncomfortable. my opinion is the mother should have disclosed it to her and let her decide if that is still where she would like to stay. The section 8 voucher is able to go any where so it is not like because it is free rent that it was her only choice.

  • joy

    It doesn’t matter if she is covered by section 8 or she pays for it out if pocket. At the end of the day she should have been notified when the house was shown to her. Going through section 8 and going through a Realtor is the same process just different outcomes. So let us not forget that, before you turn your arrogant and unsympathetic noses up at someone else’s situation, if the shoe was in the other foot you would have the same reaction. Also, just because she gets section 8 does not make her any different from you nor does it mean that she doesn’t have a job. It simply means she needs help. Now you remember that when it hard times and you stick your hand out for some help!

    • manalishi

      Yes, it matters. This needy tramp needs to forfeit her voucher to someone who NEEDS a home It’s not that she gets sec 8,,,,The problem is this freebie is not good enough for her.

      • athynz

        I’m with Joy on this one – even if I used a section 8 voucher, was on public assistance I would still want to know if the home I was going to be living in has a history like this and as a taxpayer I would want someone who is on these programs to know the history of the home. If the landlord is withholding information like that I’d wonder what else she is holding back about the house.

      • athynz

        Manalishi – I’m wondering if this house was suggested to her by someone who works with section 8 people, if there is a group within section 8 that deals with finding homes, or if this is one she found herself. I wonder too how much the rent was vs. similar properties without the history – if it was a “too good to be true” price or within a range for that size home in that area. Personally if I was in the same boat as her I’d stay especially if there were no other issues.

      • Carolyn B

        Why does she have to be a tramp Manalishi? She is just a woman needing help. There is no need to call her names.

      • manalishi

        Sure Brenda and Carolyn, I am judgemental jerk when i see people un-appreciative of how my tax $ are squandered. “She is just a woman needing help”. B.S. 5 1/2 years of hope and change and all you can show me is welfare expansion? Fact, i will gladly take the 77% odds that the “family” is born out of wedlock and the 74% odds that no child support is paid.

      • Troll

        manalishi, it is obvious that you post comments to the internet all day whilst you should be working. Do you have a government job? Does your employer know how you spend time at work? You are a wage thief and yet complain about people on assistance. Hypocrite. You complain about each robbery committed by blacks in the local news, yet you steal wages. Hypocrite.

      • Troll

        athynz and manalishi should set up house in this sociopath’s den. You’d be right at home. Maybe you will murder one another. The IQ of the US population would thereby increase significantly.

      • manalishi

        The resident stalker calls anyone a sociopath? Hypocrite? Don’t think too deep,,,oh, I forgot. You can’t

      • athynz

        Come join us Troll/David – then you can tell us to our faces what you oh-so-bravely type behind your keyboard in the security and privacy of your mom’s basement.


    she gets her section 8 voucher $810 + her kid ( $600 / month per kid until age of 18) = $1410 FREE!!

    • Carolyn B

      Assumption !!!!! Wow, this story is not about the finance of this mother. It’s about what she and her family have to endure. Have some compassion.

      • BO

        She did’nt endure anything except an entitled state of mind believing she should be able to move because of the past history .try breaking a lease or agreement and see how easy it is.

      • manalishi

        ,,”Assumption !!!!! Wow, this story is not about the finance of this mother.” Only if you don’t pay taxes! There is no finance problem with this mother,,,because taxpayers are financing her majesty and her less than suitable palace. I cannot imagine how hard it is to “endure” the perils of free rent and subsidized utilities!

  • Heather

    This is assinine.

    If she is on Sec 8 than she might pay some of that rent. It’s based on income, assuming she has a job. She pays 35% of the total rent based on her earnings, any income is included.

    I don’t get how she gets a $810 a month residence for her and one child. In Illinois, it’s based on house size. I have 4 boys and only got approved for a 3 bdrm house and no more rent than $610 a month! I have been in my house for over 3 years now and pay a portion of my rent (over half actually) every month but I’d be a tad upset if something like that wasn’t disclosed to me BUT I wouldn’t want out of my lease! It’s a place for my children to call home and provide stability for them which is ultimately what matters.

    Odds are the child doesn’t know about the history of the house and everything was fine til the mom found out.

    I don’t think we are getting the full story though. Why did the reporter have to include the amt of rent or the fact that she is on Sec 8? How is that relevant, lol.

  • billy kasey

    hello to ms,mcghaw pack up an move south to the carolinas i have a nice home an you can share until you get to the point you want to live on your no dramma here,billy

  • Jessica

    You know it’s really quite sad all of the judgement in these comments. I am a full time working mother but my job does not always help make ends meet. While I dont get assistance with my rent I do get some help, and if I did get assistance with it I would still have the right, just as everyone else to know thd history of the house I am renting. People with jobs still get assistance, so before you people pass judgement on a mother who happens to need help think about the fact that she could have a job, maybe be a single mother who just needed some help, and regardless the point of this story is the creepy house.

  • shez

    manalishi u really sound like a racist…. doesnt mean that if u dont have were u stay /money u have to take what ever they give u cos u cant afford .lets c if u can go and stay @ that house mxm.

Comments are closed.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,917 other followers