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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

June 11, 2002
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Internet Used to Find Man Who is Charged in 2 of 10 Killings

New York Times

ST. LOUIS - Investigators looking into the killings of 10 women in the St. Louis area have accused a paroled robber in two of the killings after tracking him using the Internet.

The man, Maury Troy Travis, 36, was arrested on Friday. A federal complaint unsealed today said investigators traced him through a letter and map sent last month to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that led the authorities to a woman's body in a remote area of suburban St. Charles County.

The complaint, filed on Friday in Federal District Court in East St. Louis, Ill., accused Mr. Travis, of Ferguson, Mo., of kidnapping, torturing and killing two prostitutes, Alysia Greenwade and Betty James.

Ms. Greenwade's body was found on April 1, 2001; Ms. James's was found in St. Louis two months later.

A search of Mr. Travis's home found restraints and belts splattered with what appeared to be blood, the federal complaint says.

A team of detectives has been investigating the deaths of 10 women in the St. Louis area since April 2001. Six of those women were prostitutes with drug habits; the other four have not yet been identified.

The federal complaint says that on May 24, five days after the Post-Dispatch profiled another of the 10 victims, Teresa Wilson, the newspaper received a letter that said "nice sob story," with a computer-generated map showing an intersection in West Alton in St. Charles County, along with a handwritten X.

After the Post-Dispatch notified the authorities, searchers found human skeletal remains within 50 yards of the location shown by the map's X, about 300 yards from where the decomposed bodies of Ms. Wilson and another victim, Verona Thompson, had been found.

Four days later, investigators determined that the return address on the letter, "I THRALLDOM," was a Web site featuring bondage and sexual torture. Thralldom is defined as the condition of a servant or someone in moral or mental servitude.

A search by Illinois State Police of Internet mapping companies led to an exact match between features on a map sent to the Post-Dispatch and one found on Expedia.com.

On June 3, the Microsoft Corporation, which tracks access to that Web site, showed the F.B.I. that only someone with the Internet Provider address 65.227.106.78 visited the Expedia.com site and searched the West Alton area within days of the map's mailing to the Post-Dispatch. The user name of that IP address was "MSN/maurytravis."

The police have said they believe an 11th woman, who survived an attack and was found near death in April 2001 in East St. Louis, was one of the killer's intended victims. That woman, 44, suffered brain damage, is in a nursing home and has been unable to help investigators.

In 1989, Mr. Travis was sentenced to a 15-year prison term for armed robbery. He was paroled in June 1994, a State Department of Corrections spokesman, Tim Kniest, said. In January 1998 he pleaded guilty in St. Louis to possession of drugs and was sentenced to two years of probation. He later spent nearly a year in a state drug treatment program.

Last November, Mr. Travis was returned to the treatment program after being arrested for misdemeanor assault, Mr. Kniest said.

Mr. Travis was released in March and remains under parole supervision, Mr. Kniest said.






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