Travis Santay Lewis, 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.
Lewis, 39, had been out on parole since 2018 after serving out 20 years on a 28½ year sentence for killing his latest victim’s mother and another male relative.
Martha McKay’s body was found inside her home, according to officials. She was in her mid-60s.
16-year-old Travis Lewis fatally shot McKay’s mother, Sally Snowden McKay, 75, and the mother’s nephew, 52-year-old Lee Baker, 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.”
75-year-old Sally Snowden McKay, in 1996 was shot dead by Travis Santay Lewis. 24 years later, Lewis returned to her home to kill her daughter, Martha McKay, [photo], on Wednesday
Martha Snowden was killed in the historic Snowden House at Horseshoe Lake in Arkansas on Wednesday, by the man who murdered her mother, more than two decades ago
On Wednesday, police responded to an alarm at the mansion. Responding officers found the home’s 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 Sheriff 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.”
Wednesday’s events will open wounds that may still feel fresh to local residents who remember the 1996 murders, which resonated around the world because of the cult fame of Baker.
Lewis [left], who lived at Horseshoe Lake and whose parents lived on Snowden-owned property, Lewis had been paroled in 2018. He had been charged as an adult in connection with the 1996 murders.
He was 17 when he pled guilty to the two murders on April 7, 1998, the day his Circuit Court trial was about to begin in Marion, Arkansas. He was sentenced to 28 1/2 years. “The families felt it would be traumatic to go through a trial,” the deputy prosecutor told The Commercial Appeal at the time.