Maust was deeply troubled as a child and was confined
in a mental institution at the age of nine.
He has been suspected or charged for five murders,
including: one in Germany while he was in the United States Army; one in
the early 1980s; and three in Hammond, Indiana, where he was caught
after the remains of the three victims' bodies were found under concrete
in a residential basement. He had been considered mentally unfit to
stand trial on multiple occasions.
An official biography about his life and crimes,
Blood Stained: When No One Comes Looking, written by Dory Maust was
released January 6, 2009.
Maust died at St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown
Point, Indiana, 27 hours after a suicide attempt.
A man sentenced to life in prison
for murdering three teens and burying their bodies in a basement died
Friday, a day after he was found hanging from a twisted bed sheet in his
jail cell, a hospital spokesman said.
Jail guards had found David Maust, 51, hanging in his
cell early Thursday, about 10 minutes after they told him that he was
going to be transferred to a state prison later that day, sheriff's Cpl.
Mike Higgins said.
Higgins said Maust used a bed sheet braided into a
rope to hang himself.
He was taken to a hospital, where he died Friday
morning, said St. Anthony Hospital spokesman Joe Dejanovic.
In a note found by the guards, Maust admitted to five
"Maybe with my death the families and the people can
go on with their lives and not waste energy wondering why I was still
alive," he wrote in the seven-page note, released by the county
Maust pleaded guilty last fall to killing Michael
Dennis, 13, James Raganyi, 16, and Nicholas James, 19, whose bodies were
found buried in his basement, and was sentenced to three consecutive
life terms without the chance for parole in exchange for the state
withdrawing all death penalty requests.
He had also served time in an Illinois prison for the
1981 murder of a 15-year-old boy before being released in 1999, and he
was convicted of manslaughter while serving in the Army for the killing
of a teenager in Germany.
November 01, 2005
CROWN POINT — David Maust will die in prison.
But it won’t be the state of Indiana that
In a deal announced Monday, the serial killer
will be spared the death penalty, while prosecutors will ensure
he finally gets his wish: never to walk free again.
On the day his death-penalty trial was set to
begin at a Lake County Government Center courtroom, Maust, 51,
pleaded guilty to the murder of three teenage boys, Nicholas
James, 19; James Raganyi, 16, and Michael Dennis Jr., 13.
Their bodies were discovered entombed in
Maust’s Hammond basement in December 2003.
The plea agreement calls for Maust to serve
three consecutive life terms in isolation without the
possibility of parole.
Don Smith, Raganyi’s step-father, found
satisfaction with the plea agreement.
“He’s a predator on society,” he said. “He’ll
be in jail for the rest of his life. Somebody is going to kill
him, and I’m happy. I’m looking forward to the day he dies.”
Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter blamed
the Illinois justice system for freeing Maust in 1999, despite
his plea to be kept in custody for the murder of 15-year-old
“Had it not been what Illinois did then, we
would not be facing these cases now,” Carter said.
Maust served 17 years in an Illinois prison
for stabbing and drowning Jones in 1981.
Maust, who was eligible as a sexually violent
offender to remain in custody of the Illinois Department of
Human Services and wanted to live at the Sheridan Correctional
Center, didn’t get his wish despite his own acknowledgement he
should not walk free.
“I believe in these laws and I believe that
any person who harms or murders another person should never be
free to live in society again,” he wrote to the Illinois
Department of Correction. “I used up all my chances to be free
and I would like to parole to the Sheridan program and live the
rest of my life there.”
No one responded to his letter.
Maust was released from prison June 25, 1999,
and was placed on a bus to Midway Airport.
Less than four years later, Nicholas James,
16, was murdered on May 2, 2003. His body and those of Raganyi
and Dennis were found in December 2003 buried in fresh concrete
in Maust’s Ash Avenue rental home.
Monday, uttering one or two word responses,
Maust told Lake Superior Court Judge Clarence Murray he
understood the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty to the
crimes. Murray scheduled a sentencing hearing for Dec. 16.
Outside the courtroom, Hammond police
Detective Lt. Ron Johnson said Maust detailed the three
homicides and two others for which he was convicted during a
51Ú2-hour interview at the Lake County Jail on Saturday.
Johnson declined to disclose details of
Defense attorney Thomas Vanes said plea
negotiations began in January.
“This is where we were trying to get to from
day one,” Vanes said. “This isn’t one (a case) we wanted to take
to trial,” Vanes said.
Legal officials said the case had too many
ends to unravel in a jury trial.
An ugly past
A portrait of a troubled child who was
rejected by family, emotionally deprived and physically abused
emerged from a sentencing memorandum submitted to the court by
Maust’s defense team of Thomas Vanes, Marce Gonzalez and Adam
Mark Cunningham, a board-certified forensic
psychologist, spent more than 18 hours interviewing Maust. He
also reviewed court and mental health records, military records,
school records, and interviewed family members and a social
The second of four children born to George
and Eva Maust, David Maust was sent by his mother to live with
his father when he was 8. The next day, his father sent him back
to his mother, who had him institutionalized at Chicago State
Hospital starting at age 9. His parents, who divorced in 1963
when Maust was 8, were the products of an abusive, dysfunctional
upbringing. Counselors at the Chicago State Hospital, a now-defunct
public mental health institution where Maust lived until he was
13, said his mother didn’t want him at home.
“He would stand at the window during visiting
hours, waiting for visits from his mother which grew
increasingly infrequent over time. The staff noted: 'It is
pitiful to see the ways in which he is always trying to reassure
himself, excusing mother to staff and explaining, ’She is ill;’
'Her back is bothering her,’ etc.,” the report states.
In 1967, despite his mother’s promise that he
could live at home with the family, including his stepfather,
Maust went to live at the Uhlich Children’s Home. He was
transferred back to Chicago State Hospital in 1970 but ran away
and never returned to the facility. His mother shipped him off
to live with an uncle in Georgia.
In 1971, Maust returned to live with his
mother in Chicago. At her suggestion, Maust enlisted in the U.S.
Army and was transferred to Germany in 1972.
Seven years later, following his conviction
during an Army court-martial of involuntary manslaughter in the
death of James McClister in Germany, Maust refused parole
Afraid of freedom
In 1983, Maust wrote that he was happy to be
held in the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth.
“The people there thought I was crazy because
I wanted to stay, but I did not think I was crazy, I was happy
there, and I was not hurting anyone, I was scared to go back
there in the real (world), I cried so much that all I wanted was
to stay there,” Maust wrote.
On May 10, 1977, the Army released Maust and
put him on a plane to O’Hare International Airport.
Maust lived in Chicago until 1981, when he
relocated to Texas.
He was arrested Dec. 10, 1981, in Galveston
for aggravated assault. Maust pleaded guilty in 1983 and was
given a five-year prison term. He later was extradited to
Chicago to face a murder charge in the death of Donald Jones.
Maust spent more than 10 years in the Cook
County (Ill.) criminal justice system awaiting disposition of
the murder charge. For much of that time Maust was confined in
Illinois mental health facilities as a result of findings by
mental health professionals that he was unfit to stand trial.
In May 1994, Maust pleaded guilty to the
murder of Donald Jones and was sentenced to 35 years in the
Illinois Department of Correction.
Maust was released in June 1999 with no place
to live. He was denied placement at a halfway house.
After living in homeless shelters and a cheap
motel, Maust moved to Oak Park, Ill., in 2000, and to Hammond in
He was arrested Dec. 9, 2003, and charged
with the murders of James, Raganyi and Dennis.
Defense attorney Marce Gonzalez said the plea
agreement was one that everyone, including Maust, could live
with. Maust will serve three consecutive life terms in
segregation for the crimes.
“He is unique in that he’s remorseful for it,”
Gonzalez said. “We know our client is in agreement and wants to
be isolated for the rest of his life. He believes he has
sacrificed his ability to interact with other members of society.”
Maust's troubled childhood led to murders,
By Ruthann Robinson - NWI.com
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
David Edward Maust walked into a Lake County
courtroom Monday and sat with his back to a gallery full of
relatives of the teen boys he admitted murdering.
The families of Michael Dennis, 13, James
Raganyi, 16, and Nicholas James, 19, sobbed quietly as Judge
Clarence Murray made sure Maust knew what he was doing by
pleading guilty to three counts of murder and agreeing to be
sentenced to three consecutive terms of life without parole.
Prosecutors agreed to withdraw the death
Maust, 51, asked to be isolated from other
prisoners for the rest of his life. A fitting ending, defense
lawyers said, for a man who was abandoned by his mother and
father and spent his childhood in a mental institution where he
was sexually molested.
Jeffrey Maust said the sentence is no
punishment for his older brother, who tried twice to kill him.
"There ain't no justice being served," said
Jeffrey Maust in a phone call Monday afternoon. "He's used to
being confined so this is not punishment for him. How many of us
can say we have a free meal and a free bed? That brings him
comfort. It doesn't bring them (the victims' families) comfort."
But Michael Dennis' family felt otherwise.
"I feel so much better now that it's finally
done," said Holly Gilkison, Dennis' mother.
His cousin, Cynthia Cruz, 23, referred to the
past two years as an "ongoing nightmare."
"I've been living with the problem of looking
at a picture of someone I'll never see again," she said.
The judge asked Maust how he pleaded to the
murder of James Raganyi.
"Yes," Maust replied.
He recovered and said, "guilty" as Murray
listed each victim whose body was unearthed from a shallow,
concrete grave in the basement of Maust's rented home at 4933
Ash Ave. in Hammond.
Dennis, Raganyi and James were all listed as
missing by their families months before authorities arrested
Maust on Dec. 10, 2003, and began digging in the basement.
Monday's court proceeding yielded little
drama, save a 66-page report filed by Maust's defense team of
Thomas Vanes, Marce Gonzalez and Adam Tavitas.
Titled "Defendant's Sentencing Memorandum,"
the document includes Maust's family history, reports from
social workers assigned to his case at Chicago State Hospital, a
1999 letter from Maust to Illinois prison officials in which he
asks to be kept behind bars, and a 2004 capital sentencing
report by a psychologist.
In that report, Mark Cunningham, a clinical
and forensic psychologist, stated: "In fact, one would be hard-pressed
to design a developmental sequence more likely to produce a
profoundly disturbed, relationship-ambivalent, and aggression-vulnerable
individual than the childhood experienced by David Maust."
His mother, Eva Maust, was described by a
social worker as "disturbed," "psychotic," "functioning
marginally," "needy," and "narcissistic." She had a nervous
breakdown after Jeffrey Maust was born and spent a month in a
mental hospital in Pennsylvania.
His father, George Maust, was apparently
raised in foster homes because his parents died before he was
12, the report states.
"Family members suggest he was raised in an
environment of sexual abuse and incest," the report states about
At his mother's request, David Maust was
committed to Chicago State Hospital when he was 9 -- a mental
hospital that had a reputation as a "snake pit," filled with
children who were there more often than not because family
members were mentally ill and couldn't, or wouldn't, take care
"All suggest Eva Maust 'dumped' her son in a
mental hospital," the report states.
In a report 20 years later, a mental health
professional who evaluated David Maust as he awaited trial for
the 1981 murder of Donald Jones, of Chicago, said: "He is where
he is because the system locked him up when he was nine years
old for no better reason than he was unwanted."
According to the report, staff members at
Chicago State Hospital reported the following:
-- David Maust had no incidents of serious
misbehavior during his years at the hospital, and the staff
there did not observe the lying, stealing and out-of-control
behavior his mother reported as the basis for committing her
son. He is generally described in the reports as an appealing,
sensitive and reliable child, but deeply disturbed by his
parents' rejection and preoccupied with the threat of
-- When his mother was asked to be specific
about the trouble she claimed David Maust caused during his
occasional home visits, she became evasive and stated that "she
just doesn't want him at home."
-- David Maust stood at the window during
visiting hours waiting for his mother, whose visits became
increasingly infrequent over time. The staff noted: "It is
pitiful to see the ways in which he is always trying to reassure
himself, excusing his mother to staff and explaining, 'She is
ill,' 'Her back is bothering her;' etc."
Diary uncovers life of rage, guilt
Yates and Carlos Sadovi - Chicago Tribune
December 14, 2003
Even his mother says
David Edward Maust seemed to be born
with a need to hurt people.
When he was 9,
he set fire to his
brother's bed.Later that year, David Maust
tried to drown his brother in the
Humboldt Park lagoon, pinning him underwater,
his mother said.
His brother remembers
watching Maust, then just a boy, use a
baseball bat to beat the life out of a squirrel for fun.
Now 49, David Maust
is charged with killing one teenage boy in Hammond and is
suspected in the slayings of two others less than four years
after he walked out of prison for
killing yet another teen.
None of it surprises those who have known him,
even his closest relatives.
More than a dozen times
David Maust found himself with either a knife or a rope
in his hand, ready to kill a teenage boy
he had lured with alcohol or drugs,
according to his diary.
In his diary, Maust
spells out in chilling detail how he
gained the friendship of boys, but often gave in to an
uncontrollable urge to cut or strangle them.In graphic passages
he describes methodically stabbing
teenage boys as they slept, killing a 13-year-old named Jimmy by
beating him with a 5-foot-long board and drowning Donald, 15, in
an Elgin quarry while the teen pleaded for his
Maust was so sorry
for what he had done that
he tried repeatedly to commit suicide
and once cut his face "so everyone could
see that bad mark, so they could see my shame,"
"What I done in my life is bad things to good
people," Maust wrote in 1983."I cannot
remember the good things I did in my life, but I can remember
the bad things ... because when you do one bad thing, it takes
away the good."
Charged with murder
Maust is now in a Hammond
jail, charged with killing James Raganyi, 16, whose body was
found entombed in concrete in
Police also suspect
Maust in the killings of Michael Dennis, 13, and Nick
James, 19. Their bodies also were found in concrete in
Mausts' mother, who now lives
out of state, learned her son was in trouble Thursday night when
she saw a story about him on the news.
"It was rather shocking but I
should have realized that that was the way it was going to be
with David, because he's killed before," Reyes said.
He was a beautiful baby, but
even in his youngest years he was trouble. At age 2, he would
throw heavy objects at his 1-year-old sister's head.
"He was always that way, from
the time he could walk," Reyes said. "Every time I tried to do
anything with David, like trying to teach him right from wrong,
everybody would just pet him and buy him stuff. It just made it
The second oldest of four
grew up in an apartment in the 1000 block of North Mozart Street.
His father, George, left the family and obtained a divorce when
Maust was about
7. Within two years, Eva Reyes said her son was too much to
going with his brother to the park one day to play. His brother,
who was carrying a baseball bat, saw a squirrel scampering away.
"He just took the baseball
bat and smashed the squirrel to death," said Jeffrey
Maust. "He's got
Maust said he
believes his brother was sexually molested by a relative at a
young age, and that might have triggered his destructive
Reyes said she thinks her son
was simply born that way.
By 1963, Reyes said she could
no longer control her son and keep him from danger.
David Maust, then
9, was placed in a state mental home.
"I did love him. I put up
with him for a long time," Reyes said. "I didn't ask for them to
take him. I would have kept him at home and tried to treat him
like all the rest."
The move would have a
profound impact on Maust's
life. In his diary, he wrote repeatedly of how he cried when he
was separated from people he loved, particularly his mother.
"I remember when I stood
before the judge when I was 9 year's old, for the things I did
bad, and the judge gave me 4 years,"
"I never understood why I was
put in there until now, but back then I thought it was for
running away from home, or for taking something from a store, or
for just being a bad kid," he wrote in a later passage that,
like many others, contained misspellings and grammatical errors.
"And I no I was not retarded ... but when I left there in 1967
to go to the Children Home, I think my mind was a little off."
Encounter with a boy
At 13, he arrived at the
children's home, at 3737 N. Mozart St., where he was approached
by another boy who wanted to have sex with him, he wrote. He
said he did not want to do it, but the boy threatened to tell
others that he had been in a state mental hospital.
Maust said all he did was
kiss the boy but it left him feeling ashamed, a feeling that
would haunt him for years to come.
Maust attacked a
boy, he wrote in the diary. In a scenario that would be replayed
throughout his life, he choked a boy named Eddie while they were
"For no reason at all I
started to choke him ... I told him I was sorry and he said it
was OK," Maust
wrote. "Eddie was the first person I hurt."
There would be others. At 15,
Maust choked a
boy named Daniel with a rope while the two watched television,
"I could not stop, and I had
no reason to be doing this to him, I told myself this is enough
and I quit and then I let go of the rope, and Daniel fell to the
floor," he wrote. "It was like I was traped inside of me, and
someone eles was trying to kill Daniel, and I could not stop."
At one point growing up,
from a psychiatric hospital.
He went first to a Cubs game,
where he said Chicago beat Houston 12-8--many of his memories,
even the most violent ones, are bracketed by detailed accounts
of sporting events.
He then returned to the home
of his mother, who had remarried. Reyes, however, did not want
him home, he wrote.
"She got a knife, and was
coming at me with the knife telling me to get out of her house
right now, or she was going to stab me with the knife,"
She later apologized. "My
mother told me David I'm sorry I just don't want you in my house."
Seeking to get her 17-year-old
son away from home in the summer of 1971, with the Vietnam War
raging, Reyes took Maust
to a local U.S. Army recruiter.
It was while stationed in
Germany that Maust
said he committed his first killing.
Maust wrote that he awoke in
his room to find a boy he had befriended named Jimmy sleeping
naked on top of him.
Maust said he, too, was undressed. The episode upset him,
and a month later he and the boy went for a moped ride in a
Brandishing a knife,
Maust led the boy
deeper into the woods. There, he tied the boy to a tree and beat
him with his fists, then a board.
"I never told anybody the
truth about that night, because it was a sad bad thing ... he
was a very good boy, and he did not deserve what happen to him
on that sad night in May,"
Angry with himself
"I was angry with my self,
because I did not no what to do for the boy now, so I picked
Jimmy up, so I could take him deep into the woods to hide him,
and after about ten feet, Jimmy died in my arms ... I put leaves
over him to hide him and then I left the woods," he wrote.
He had promised himself
nearly seven months earlier that he would kill Jimmy when the
boy had grown out his hair.
"I thought to myself at that
moment, that when Jimmy get's long hair, I am going to kill him
... When I killed Jimmy on that day, Jimmy had long hair,"
About a month later, the body
of the boy was found in a bomb crater, said Ronald Zeek, who was
a friend of Maust's
and a sergeant assigned to the same base. In an interview, Zeek
defense lawyer argued that the boy died after he crashed the
moped because some teens threw a screwdriver into the spokes of
convicted of manslaughter because prosecutors could not find any
witnesses in the case. He was sentenced to more than 3 years in
After he was released from
behavior got worse.
Reyes, who had since moved,
said her son visited her there after he got out in 1977.
"He came down to our place
with a friend," Reyes said. "Before two or three weeks were up,
he had stabbed that guy in the stomach and pulled the knife all
the way up."
In his diary,
Maust wrote that
such violence haunted him, but when he hurt his friends, he
could not control himself. In 1980, he went on trial again, this
time for attempted murder; he had allegedly stabbed a friend in
his Chicago apartment.
Maust said he lied on the witness stand and said he
didn't do it and was found not guilty.
By then, he was beginning to
think he was not fit for the outside world. One morning, he
wrote, he drove past the state mental hospital.
"I thought to myself that it
would not be so bad being in there the rest of my life, because
I would not be able to hurt someone anymore, and then maybe I
could get some help," he wrote.
But that help never came. In
August 1981, he went looking for a teenage boy he had had sex
with several years before.
Maust wrote that
he thought that homosexual act was the cause of his bad behavior,
and he wanted to kill the teen.
Maust got to the
boy's Chicago home, he was told the teen was in jail.
Maust said he saw
another boy, Donald Jones, walking by, and lured him into his
He took Jones to a quarry in
Elgin and stabbed him in the stomach.
"I can still hear Donald
Jones saying to me, `I'm only 15 years old, please don't kill
me,'" Maust wrote.
He then took Jones to the water and drowned him.
He fled to Texas, where he
stabbed another teenager in a hotel room, for which he spent
time in a Texas jail.
his killings and stabbings in the diary, which he turned over to
investigators in 1983.
"I have ben thinking about
Donald Jones a lot, and what I did to him on that Sunday, in
August, and I have ben thinking about the bad thing I did in my
life, and now I would like to have the death sentence, I would
like to die," Maust
Served prison sentence
Maust was extradited to
Illinois from Texas and convicted of Jones' murder. He served 17
years of a 35-year prison sentence, partly in psychiatric units.
He was released in 1999 and moved to Oak Park and moved to
Hammond more than a year ago.
Investigators found the
bodies of three teenage boys at his Hammond home last week.
Police said he has admitted
killing one of the boys. In court Friday, an Indiana judge
entered a not guilty plea for
Maust, who said
that he wanted to represent himself at his trial.
In his 1983 diary,
Maust said he
wanted to come clean, that he was sick of telling so many lies.
"I just hope nobody will make
fun of me because of what I said in this statement, because it
is not funny," Maust
finished the diary with "I wish I did not have to tell anybody
"And I only blame myself."
Hammond man out to defend self
suspect asks to be attorney
Deering - Chicago Tribune
A man accused of luring teenagers into his
home with offers of alcohol and drugs told a judge Friday that
he would like to be his own defense attorney against charges he
strangled one of the teens and buried the body beneath his
A judge entered a plea of not
guilty on behalf of David
Maust during a brief arraignment hearing and set the next
hearing for Friday.
Asked during his arraignment
in a Crown Point, Ind., courtroom if he had any questions,
Maust said, "Yeah.
I'd like to represent myself."
Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan
ordered the 49-year-old Hammond man held without bond.
"Nothing ever surprises us,"
Diane Poulton, spokeswoman for the Lake County, Ind.,
prosecutor's office, said after the hearing.
Maust spent time in prison
for the 1981 slaying of a teen boy near Elgin. He also was
convicted of killing a boy in Germany in 1974 while in the Army
and served more than three years at the federal prison in Ft.
Poulton said public defenders
would be available to advise
Maust until a
final decision is made about his legal counsel. She added that
she had never before seen a Lake County, Ind., judge allow a
murder defendant to represent himself.
dismissed him to the prisoners holding room. He had a smirk on
his face as he turned to leave.
Maust also is a suspect in
the deaths of two other teens whose bodies were found this week
under freshly poured concrete in the basement of his home.
Prosecutors have not decided whether to seek the death penalty
if Maust is
charged in connection with the two other deaths.
Oak Park police said Friday
that Maust lived
in an apartment in the 400 block of South Kenilworth Avenue
between May 2000 and December 2002, even though Hammond
authorities said Maust
moved to the northwest Indiana town in June 2002. A search of
Maust's former Oak
Park apartment building, both inside and outside and including
his apartment, did not yield new evidence or indicate foul play,
Maust told the judge he had
worked at a trophy shop in Dolton for three years before his
arrest, making $323 a week. He said he had $2 in his checking
account, did not own a car and lived alone.
Maust told them
he strangled 16-year-old James Raganyi with a rope at 11:45 p.m.
Sept. 10. Authorities said
the neighborhood boy and two other Hammond teens, Michael Dennis,
13, and Nick James, 19, by giving them money, alcohol and
marijuana over the summer. All three of the teens' bodies were
recovered this week at
Maust's home, police said.