CRIME
07/09/2014 11:43 am ET Updated Jul 09, 2014

Woman Learns Her House Was Serial Killer's Torture Chamber

A Missouri woman was shocked to learn that the house she had been renting was once a "torture chamber" where a serial killer murdered his victims.

Serial killer Maury Travis, who hanged himself in jail in 2002, is believed to have slain between 12 and 20 women. Police said several of the murders took place at a house in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis.

Catrina McGhaw signed a lease for that house in March. She told KMOV that her landlady, who is the killer's mother, didn't mention the murders or the bodies that were found on the property more than a decade ago.

“This whole basement was his torture chamber and it’s not okay,” McGhaw told the station.

After the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a profile of the killer, Travis anonymously sent the newspaper a map to the home, where several bodies could be found.

Video tapes in which Travis tortured victims were also uncovered in a police investigation. Some of them feature women tied to a pole in the basement of the house.

McGhaw learned about the slayings from a family, who showed her an A&E documentary featuring the Travis murders. She begged her landlady to let her out of the lease, but she refused and said she was responsible for the whole term. McGhaw, who receives a Section 8 stipend, had to seek outside help to negotiate the lease.

"Initially, the landlord was not willing to let her break her lease but we talked with her and eventually the landlord agreed to rescind the lease," Cheryl Lovell, executive director of the St Louis Housing Authority, told ABC News.

She said that in Missouri, landlords don't have to tell applicants about crimes that have been committed on their property.

"There is no duty to disclose," Lovell said. "Other states there are, but mostly that is for selling houses."

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