If John Robinson is the first serial killer to lure victims via the internet, then Maury Travis has the dubious distinction to be called the first serial killer apprehended because of the internet.
Things were going well for Travis. He was successfully slaying drug addicts and prostitutes in St. Louis, Missourri, and neighboring East St. Louis, Illinois. Police were reluctant to admit that a serial killer was responsible for the rash of killings. His activities had caused barely a ripple even in the cities he prowled.
Perhaps because of this apparent lack of attention, he decided it was a good idea to point authorities to the decomposing remains of an undiscovered victim near West Alton, Missourri, by sending directions to a local newspaper. The woman's body (she is still unidentified) was found sure enough just across a road from where two of Travis' earlier victims were discovered. Unfortunately for Travis he had enclosed an internet-generated map with his typed letter. Police soon traced the map back to the only IP address to download it recently. The user was MSN/maurytravis.
On June 7, 2002, police arrested Travis and began an extensive search of his Ferguson, Missourri, home. Their suspect told investigators he knew why they had come to get him but would make no direct confessiuons under initial interrogation. And he never would. Travis managed to hang himself in his cell three days later despite being under a suicide watch. Investigators are now left to forge ahead knowing they will get no help from the one man who knew precisely what happened to the numerous women he killed and dumped like trash. They also must deal with the prospect that they are collecting evidence against a man that has already avoided justice.
At least the police search turned up a wealth of evidence against Travis, a 36-year-old waiter and former convict described by neighbors as quiet but smart and friendly. Blood splatters were found throughout Travis' home and belts and ligatures discovered were also smeared with blood. The most damning evidence, however, was videotapes that searchers found secreted inside a wall. The tapes documented Travis engaged in bondage and rough, sadistic sex with women and what appear to be at least two killings. Only one woman on the tapes, Betty James, has been identified. She has been found murdered though her killing is not shown on the tapes. Travis' basement had been modified into a kind of sadistic torture chamber and likely was where several women breathed their last breath.
At this early date it appears that Travis is responsible for at least seven slayings though the letter that led to his downfall claimed a total of seventeen. Three more murders fit his pattern and police in Atlanta, Georgia, are interested in Travis' possible involvement in the unsolved killings of six prostitutes that coincide with a period in 1994 when Travis was living in that city.
10/23/2002-Police have turned again to the gruesome videotapes of bondage and torture found during the search after Travis' arrest in the hopes of identifying at least four unidentified victims. One tape found hidden in a wall features many women, all of those presumed to be dead, some of which were forced to state their names on camera. Two of those remain unidentified possibly because they gave street alias' instead of stating their real names. It is now reported that police believe Travis' total victims number between twelve and twenty.