Arkansas Mom and Daughter Are Murdered by Same Man 23 Years Apart, then Killer Drowns Himself
Tragedy struck the same Arkansas family twice — both times at the hands of the same man.
On Wednesday, an ex-convict returned to the upscale lakeside Arkansas neighborhood where he’d fatally shot a 75-year-old woman and her 52-year-old nephew 23 years earlier, say authorities. Once there, he murdered the woman’s daughter and then drowned himself after fleeing from police.
Martha McKay, 63, was found dead inside her home at the historic Snowden House in Horseshoe Lake, Arkansas, just southwest of Memphis, Tennessee.
On Wednesday, Crittenden County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an alarm at the home, Sheriff Mike Allen said in a statement.
A popular wedding venue and vacation spot, the stately lakeside home the McKay family has owned since 1919 was the setting for the 1994 movie adaptation of John Grisham’s bestselling legal thriller, The Client, the Commercial Appeal reports.
Upon arriving at the home, deputies found the back door open.
Inside they found a man, later identified as Travis Lewis, 39, who jumped out of an upstairs window, ran to his vehicle and drove across the property, Allen says in the statement.
When the vehicle got stuck in the yard, the suspect “jumped from the car and ran and jumped into the lake,” Allen says.
“He was observed going under the water and never came back up,” Allen says.
Using sonar equipment, members of the Crittenden County Search and Rescue team were able to locate and recover Lewis’s body.
Meanwhile, deputies searched the house and found McKay’s body, Allen says.
She had been stabbed, neighbors told the Commercial Appeal.
The bodies were sent to the state medical examiner’s office to determine cause and manner of death.
Authorities are investigating why Lewis killed McKay after murdering McKay’s mother, Sally Snowden McKay, 75, and her nephew, Lee Baker, 52, a well-known blues rock guitarist, on Sept. 10, 1996, when he was just 16.
It’s unclear whether Sally McKay and Baker were killed at the Snowden House, as Fox 13 reports, or if they were killed in a different home down the street, as the Commercial Appeal reports.
The history between Lewis and McKay, and her mother and cousin — members of the powerful Snowden family which owned much of the property in the area, including The Peabody, a historic hotel in Memphis — is unclear.
His parents had once lived on property on Horseshoe Lake owned by the Snowden family, the Commercial Appeal has reported.
Charged as an adult in the notorious Horseshoe Lake murders, Lewis pleaded guilty to the murders and was sentenced to 28.5 years in prison.
He was paroled in 2018 after serving 23 years of his sentence.
Residents are shocked that yet another murder has taken place in their usually tranquil neighborhood.
“We locked our doors and remained inside and prayed for the best,” one neighbor who saw police patrolling the lake told Fox 13.
“It’s just a scary thing that’s happened,” the neighbor said. “We are praying for the family.”
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