Travis McGraw

Vanessa Mintz-McGraw owned a lodge in Hendersonville North Carolina called Saluda Mountain Lodge.  It was family ran.  Vanessa and her husband Travis McGraw were to have worked the night shift on February 18, 2011 together. The following morning Vanessa's daughter, Jessica Freeman went in to relieve them. No one was apparently at the desk so she entered the living quarters.  She saw her mother in the bed, under the covers but the sound of her voice was not waking her.  Jessica went to shake her mother awake but realized by the temperature of her body something was not right and called 9-1-1.  Jessica would call 9-1-1 again when she would realize that her mother had been shot.

Investigators would arrive and so would Travis after Jessica had gotten a hold of him.  He had been out to breakfast with his two teenage children.  The room in which Vanessa was found in was completely clean of any ransacking or sign of a struggle.  The only area in which blood appeared was near the bed where her body lay.  Officers would find that the cash drawer in the lobby had been cleared of money but they kept that to themselves for just a bit.

Of course, as it is with all murder scenes, the investigation started with those closest to the victim.  Quickly eyes were on Travis.  He gave officers permission to search his truck and inside they found some unfired 12 gauge shotgun shells. They apparently could easily tell that they matched ones found in the room. Travis would tell them that he had them in his pocket and they could have fallen out when he was getting dressed that morning.  Officers were not buying it.

Within just four days Travis would be arrested for the murder of his wife.  He would go on trial in May of 2014.  Prosecutors would show evidence that Travis had a mistress and that mistress, Mary Beth Fisher had given Travis an ultimatum just two days before his wife was murdered.  They would not just hear that from Mary Beth herself, they would find text messages to confirm her story.  According to Mary Beth she had met Travis just two months before the murder and that as the relationship progressed she was unaware that he was married.  She had discovered this and on February 18, 2011 she told him he had a choice to make, either leave his wife, or lose her, and that he had two days to decide.  Regarding text messages between the two investigators found one that Travis had sent Mary Beth just soon after they had notified him of Vanessa's murder telling her but also mentioning the money missing from the register, something the police had purposely not informed him of.  

They had more too.  Of course there were the shotgun shells that would later be positively matched as being the ones used in Vanessa's murder.  Then there was the testimony of a couple who had registered at the lodge.  Travis would claim to have not left the lodge until around nine that morning.  Jessica had found her mother about 9:30.  But, according to the couple, the man, William Garity had gone to the lobby about 7 that morning and saw the office door open.  He had hollered to get someone's attention but no one came.  About an hour later his wife, Beverly had done the same and also was unable to speak with anyone. An insurance agent would testify that just hours after Vanessa was reported murdered he had received an email from Travis McGraw inquiring about a life insurance policy on Vanessa in the amount of $100,000.

It does not seem like the defense did a super lot to deflect or have much of a position other than he was not responsible.  The defense attempted not just at trial but also in later appeals to prevent a ballistic expert from testifying although I did not understand completely the reasons.  

On June 4, 2014 after about a day of deliberation a jury found Travis McGraw guilty in the murder of his wife.  He was sentenced by mandatory guidelines to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 


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