Maury Troy Travis (October 25, 1965 – June 10, 2002) was an American serial killer who killed himself in a St. Louis county jail, after being arrested for murder. Travis was named in a Federal criminal complaint for the murders of two women. At the time of the murders, Travis was a waiter and on parole for a robbery in 1989. While in his letter Travis claimed to have murdered 17 women, some authorities were doubtful; others thought he may have murdered up to 20 women.
At least one videotape of Travis murdering and/or persecuting some of his victims was found in the search of his home. He is believed to have killed two women, Alysia Greenwade, whose body was discovered 1 April 2001 in Illinois (after having been last seen in Missouri), and Betty James, whose body was discovered about two months later in Missouri (after having been last seen in Illinois). Although Travis appears to acknowledge at least 17 murders, the police believe his victim count could be as high as 20.
From May to October 2001 four other women were tortured and strangled: Teresa Wilson, Verona Thompson, Yvonne Crues and Brenda Beasley. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a profile piece on Wilson, and Travis responded to it anonymously with a letter and a map. The letter had a return address of I THRALLDOM, a web bondage site, but no other identification.However, the map was recognized to have come from Expedia.com, and further investigation traced it back to Travis, who was arrested.
In the letter he said, “I’ll tell you where many others are.” And then: “To prove I’m real, here’s directions to number seventeen.” Travis was arrested on a federal criminal complaint and, while in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, was housed at a St. Louis County jail facility in Clayton, Missouri. Investigators discovered a torture chamber at Travis’ residence, instruments of torture, a stun gun, newspaper clippings of some of his crimes, and videotapes of Travis committing some of his crimes.
Before he could be put on trial or sentenced for the crimes, Travis hanged himself on June 10, 2002, in his jail cell in St. Louis County Jail after jailers trained in suicide watch failed to show up.
In the media
Forensic Files covered the story of his crime spree. The episode was titled “X Marks the Spot”. Cold Case Files also covered the story, in an episode entitled “A Map to Murder”. “Evil” also covered this story in an episode entitled “Hell’s Basement”.
After watching the Cold Case documentary on the A&E network, the current tenant of Travis’ house found out about the house’s history. It was revealed that her landlord, who would not return the money or break the lease when confronted, was Travis’ mother. Upon being approached by the local housing authority the landlord subsequently agreed to rescind the lease.