Black Killer of White Woman Paroled; Returns to Scene and Kills First Victim’s Daughter
ONE OF Arkansas’ most notorious murderers returned to the scene of his crime 24 years later to kill his victim’s daughter — and then drowned as he tried to flee cops, according to officials.
Travis Santay Lewis — who had been out on parole since 2018 — was last seen alive diving into Horseshoe Lake, a half-hour southwest of Memphis, on Wednesday. Officials recovered the 39-year-old killer’s body using sonar equipment.
He’d just murdered heiress Martha McKay inside her opulent, century-old lakefront mansion, Snowden House, which was being run as a bed and breakfast, officials told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
McKay’s body was found inside; it was not immediately clear if she’d been stabbed or bludgeoned to death. She was in her 60s, according to officials.
Lewis had been just 16 when he fatally shot McKay’s mother, Sally Snowden McKay, 75, and the mother’s nephew, Lee Baker, 52, a few houses down from the mansion in 1996.
Lewis, whose parents had lived on Snowden family-owned property, was sentenced to 28 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty,
The murders became infamous in local lore because the Snowdens were an influential family and because Baker was a famed Memphis guitarist who had played for Big Star and frontman Alex Chilton, according to the Appeal. The historic Snowden House was used in the 1994 John Grisham movie The Client.
On Wednesday, police responded to an alarm at the mansion. Arriving cops found the house back door open.
Lewis “jumped from an upstairs window and ran to a vehicle that he drove across the yard and got stuck in the yard,” Crittenden County Sheriff Mike Allen told the Appeal.
“The suspect then jumped from the car and ran and jumped into the lake,” Allen continued. “He was observed going under the water and never came back up.”
McKay’s remains were only found after deputies went back to the house following the chase, according to Allen.
Some neighbors told the paper that McKay had been stabbed, while others say she was bludgeoned with a hammer.
“I felt like I was royalty, with the big house and servants,” McKay had said in a 2015 interview, in which the Appeal called her “The Lady of the Lake.”
“Everything was fresh from the garden, fresh eggs and all, and we even had a peach orchard,” she’d said. “We got to swim every day, and it was just ideal.”
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Source: New York Post