Woman Sees Her House on TV, Discovers It Was Suspected Serial Killer's Torture Den


The north St. Louis County house where Maury Travis, then Catrina McGhaw, lived. - YOUTUBE
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  • The north St. Louis County house where Maury Travis, then Catrina McGhaw, lived.

Catrina McGhaw was watching an episode of A&E's Cold Case Files on suspected St. Louis serial killer Maury Travis when something struck her as strangely familiar.

The house where Travis is suspected of tying up, torturing and killing at least two -- and possibly as many as ten -- women is the same house McGhaw rents now, she tells KMOV (Channel 4).

"This whole basement was his torture chamber, and it's not OK," McGhaw says on KMOV.

Here's the A&E special on Travis:

McGhaw had no idea she was moving into a home with such a sinister history, so she called her landlord to get out of the lease. Turns out, the landlord knew exactly what happened in that house; she's Travis' mother. And she had no interest in helping McGhaw leave.

"She said, 'No, you signed the lease, and you need to stay there until the lease is up,'" McGhaw tells KMOV. The landlord eventually agreed to let McGhaw leave the house at the end of the month.

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Once the house's true background was exposed, McGhaw says a few previously minor details suddenly became downright creepy: Travis' mother gave her a dining-room table for free, which seemed fortuitous until McGhaw saw it in the crime-scene photos. And in the basement -- which was covered in blood splotches when police investigated in 2002 -- the pole where Travis allegedly tied up the women he tortured still stands.

McGhaw says she can't stop thinking about that basement pole, especially the time a two-year-old relative playing near the pole claimed to see an apparition.

"She looked over and she was like, 'She's scared, she's scared,' like she saw somebody who was scared and crying," McGhaw tells Channel 4.

"And there was nobody there?" reporter Chris Nagus asks.

"Nobody was there," she answers.

Travis, a 36-year-old hotel waiter and paroled robber, killed himself in his jail cell in 2002 after being arrested for two, and suspected of eight more, serial murders. His suspected victims were mostly prostitutes with drug habits.

He was arrested after investigators traced a letter and map he sent to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that led authorities to a woman's body in remote St. Charles County.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.