David Maust was charged last week with the murder of a teenage boy in Hammond, Ind. Two other youths were found buried under the basement of the home where Maust had rented a room. Maust, 49, a twice-convicted murderer, has spent most of his life in a catch-and-release game with officials, says Indianapolis Star columnist Ruth Holladay. As she recounts his record: He was in a mental institution at age 9 after trying to drown his brother. At 13, he was in a children’s home, then in a psychiatric hospital until age 17 in 1972. He killed a 13-year-old boy and served three years in a federal prison for manslaughter. He was jailed in Texas for five years for assaulting a boy before being extradited to Illinois for a murder there. In 1994, he was convicted in Illinois for the 1981 beating and drowning of an Elgin teen. Before being turned over to the Illinois Department of Corrections in 1994, he was housed in a psychiatric hospital and the Cook County Jail.
Yet Illinois released him in 1996 after serving 17 years of a 35-year sentence. He moved to Hammond in 2002. A year later, the bodies were found. Holladay asks, “How could so many systems let him slither through the cracks? … [Victims’ relatives] and even Maust’s mother and brother, demand to know how the system failed.”
Holladay suggests creating a registry for convicted murderers, similar to the sex offender registries. Indiana Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne, chairman of the committee on criminal, civil and public policy, suggests it could work. He also likes the idea of permanent probation for certain violent murderers. States, he says, would be obligated to talk to one another and keep tabs on these offenders when they are freed.