Renter was not told house was spot of truly heinous crimes

I have to sympathize with this woman. She was in for a big surprise that was rather unfair.

Woman sees home on TV, learns deadly secret | St. Louis.

Catrina McGhaw signed the lease without worry. Her section 8 voucher covered 810 dollars in rent.

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

McGhaw is living in the same Ferguson, Missouri house serial killer Maury Travis used as a torture chamber. The landlord even gave her the dining room table; the same one from the crime scene photos.

The landlord is the mother of the killer Travis and refused to allow her out of the lease. The law does not require in this case that such former activities are disclosed to renters. But I do wonder about laws that require “stigmatized” properties to be disclosed to potential buyers. Anyway, she has been able to get help through the government agency. But here is another curious thing…an incident in the basement.

McGhaw says she will be moving at the end of July, which can’t come soon enough.
She says things keep getting weirder, and can’t stop thinking about an incident with a two year old relative that 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.

Well, a two-year old in a basement is bound to be scared. It’s not clear if the woman knew about the connection at the time of this event. But to connect it to ghosts (which the story doesn’t actually do) is a stretch. There is no doubt the house is stigmatized and will likely evolve many haunting stories as time passes.

What do you think? Should she have been able to get out of the lease easily? Honestly, I would have done the same thing. That’s a bit too much stigma. Sometimes people have to destroy the bad thing to recover from the memories and move on even if it only makes psychological sense, not logical sense.

  11 comments for “Renter was not told house was spot of truly heinous crimes

  1. Rich
    July 8, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    You’re right, logically it makes no difference what happened in the house. I think if you buy a house in Britain that’s over 70 years old there’s a good chance at least one person died in it.

    I don’t think I’d be sternly logical enough to happily ignore living where such horrible things happened, though, and it seems entirely reasonable that she should have been informed, and that she should be allowed release from the agreement to rent. I think there’s a huge difference psychologically between this and, say, the Amityville house, or any ‘haunted’ house that comes on the market. As you say, the symbolic act of wiping away the place can’t be underestimated:

  2. Gary
    July 8, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Imagine if she had bought the house. She wouldn’t have been able to sell it for anywhere near the purchase price. I wonder how many states’ laws require the disclosure of such information

  3. Peebs
    July 8, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    My first house was built in 1901 and, always curious, discovered it was first owned (or lived in) by an elderly woman who had died probably in the room I used as a bedroom.

    To me it was a mildly interesting story. However, had it been 10, Rillington Place or where Fred West lived I would never have bought the place (okay, both have been demolished, but I think my point remains extant).

    Intense media coverage must surely count as a reason to disclose.

  4. Bill T.
    July 8, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    California requires disclosure, I can’t speak for others.

  5. Tabor
    July 8, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    I suppose it depends on the notoriety associated with the history. I don’t believe in ghosts and have even lived in a house where the previous occupant had committed suicide with little trepidation, but if I had to deal with curiosity seekers coming around to see the scene of the crime I would be upset that it hadn’t been disclosed to me.

  6. July 8, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    My house was the scene of some truly terrible happenings. The wallpaper, for example…

  7. Harrow
    July 8, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    I charge people $35 to tour my house in Boston. Nothing interesting whatsoever has ever occurred there, but every year there are a few new tourists who don’t know that.

  8. William Crane
    July 8, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    I’d be more worried about the kooks that will be invading the property in some sick, homage to a murderer.

  9. July 9, 2014 at 3:49 AM

    I wouldn’t be thrilled at realizing the house I live in was being featured on true crime documentaries, and could feasibly become a target for death junkies and ghost hunters. I value my privacy too much.

  10. smh
    July 18, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Makes me wonder what’s wrong with the serial killer’s mom and maybe it’s not just a coincidence her kid became a serial killer. I would want to be out ASAP, too, and I feel really confident there is no such thing as ghosts.

  11. smh
    July 18, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Wow. I googled this case and it is just… massively depraved.
    If that was your son, would you keep his house and rent it out? Wouldn’t you desperately want to distance yourself from this, to put it all behind you and try to forgot as much as possible?

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