Arkansas Woman Killed by Same Man Convicted of Mother's Murder 23 Years Earlier, Sheriff Says

A man convicted of a pair of infamous Arkansas murders in 1996 is suspected of returning to the home of the crimes and killing the daughter of one of his original victims, officials said. 

Martha McKay was found dead at the historic Snowden home in Horseshoe Lake after deputies responded to an alarm there, according to Crittenden County Sheriff Mike Allen.

As they initially searched the house, deputies saw the suspect, Travis Lewis, jump from an upstairs window, run to a vehicle and drive it across the yard, where it got stuck.

"The suspect then jumped from the car and ran and jumped into the lake," Allen said in a statement. "He was observed going under the water and never came back up." Lewis's body was then recovered from the water by a search and rescue team. The apparent drowning has yet to be confirmed by the state medical examiner, who is expected to determine his official cause of death later this week, authorities said. 

In 1996, Lewis pleaded guilty to the murders of Martha's mother, Sally Snowden McKay and Martha's first cousin, Lee Baker, who was a popular local musician. 

Lewis killed Sally and Lee after being surprised by them while he attempted to steal from the Snowden home, officials said. 

Lewis, 16 at the time, was charged as an adult, Allen said. But some of the victims' family opposed a capital sentence for Lewis's original conviction. Among them was Martha, who befriended Lewis while he was in prison, Dottie Jones, Martha's first cousin, told the Memphis Flyer. He was paroled in 2018.  

The Snowden family, along with their massive lakeside property, is well-known in the region. 

Martha McKay was one of ten grandchildren of the home's original owners, Bob and Grace Snowden, according to the Snowden House website. She returned to Horseshoe Lake in 2004 to buy it from the rest of her family and fully renovate it. The property has recently served as a wedding venue.

Neighbors reportedly said that McKay had been stabbed. Her official cause and manner of death will be determined by the state medical examiner, Allen said.

Authorities are still investigating.


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