The St. Louis Serial Killer Who Taunted The Police

Serial Killer Maury Travis Posing In A Police Photo
youtube | Forensic Files

News & Politics
Heather L Lawton

Walking into the fields where hunters, cyclists, collectors of all kinds, and past-timers stumble across the dead can be a cruel task for investigators. With a tough exterior and a heavy heart, detectives soldier through, not knowing what awaits them in the field of horrors. Humiliation seemed to be what fueled Maury Troy Travis when St. Louis police officers found the posed calling cards of the elusive killer. After he murdered each of his victims, Travis strategically placed the lifeless women out in the open. Most of them were nude, and many of them were sex workers.

Black Victims, Black Perpetrator

Woman with hands on her forehead and mouth
Shutterstock | 223741451

Profilers state rapists, murderers, and serial murderers rarely step out of their racial bounds to commit these crimes, partly because crime is tribal. Therefore, criminals violate people who look like them or are from their communities. Travis tortured, raped, and murdered Black women. Perhaps he believed remaining with a darker race of women would encourage the police to turn a blind eye. According to Fox 32, Black women and girls make up more than a third of the missing cases in the United States, and found that National statistics show Black women and girls are at a greater risk of interpersonal violence and human trafficking.

The Life Of A Sex Worker

A Bus With A Sign Reading 'Sex Workers Rights Are Human Rights
Wikimedia | Bojan Cvetanović

The title of women who sell their bodies in exchange for money has evolved -- soiled doves, sportin' women, women of the night, wh*res, hookers, prostitutes, and now sex workers. The way police departments investigate the murders of sex workers has also changed. In the 1970s, a murdered prostitute found by the police would have been labeled "No Humans Involved (NHI)." Due to the nature of the woman's work, authorities accepted she either "got what she deserved" or defined the slain worker as the "gutter of society." But, the St. Louis PD combed over every clue in the Travis serial murder case. In April 2001, the body of sex worker Alysa Greenwade would be the first one discovered by the police in a grassy area.

Taunting The Police Leads To Capture

Tire tracks
Wikimedia | Johann Jaritz

Over the next five months, three more bodies lay dead before authorities concluded the same killer was responsible. The secondary location for the victims and the positioning of the bodies were Travis' MO. After murdering these women, the police photographing sets of tire tracks at his crime scenes wasn't exciting enough to the killer, so he wrote letters and printed out road maps on the internet to taunt the police in their investigation, which may have led to his capture.

A Narcissistic Monster

Stairway to a creepy basement
Shutterstock | 173136224

Police reported the internet copywriting on the map Travis mailed to them was the key to his arrest. His narcissism, driving him to tease the police, believing he was the more astute, experienced being paved a trail straight to his door. Travis was so egotistical that the victims' torture chamber was in the basement of his mother's house. At the murder site, damning evidence included video footage of some of the killings, women's underwear, and what the police call a "working bag" -- straps, duct tape, ligatures, and pantyhose he used as gloves.

The Decider Of His Fate

Illustration Of A Man Hanging From A Jail Cell
Wikimedia | Maltaper

A disappointed and infuriating law enforcement raced to the jailhouse after being told Travis committed suicide by hanging. Officers skipped monitoring the inmate for unknown reasons. These sex workers were human beings to these officers, and they wanted justice for them all. Detectives found ten bodies, but Travis had admitted to 17. Seven women will probably be in an open yet lonely grave, waiting to be deemed worthy like the others. "I'm not going back to prison, and you're not giving me no needle," was the last thing Travis had with the St. Louis officer who arrested him. Oddly, serial killers are afraid of death. Are they scared of meeting a higher power or fearful of crossing their victims?

Read on for more true crime stories.