Girl gives gripping details of chef’s murder, sex work

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A 17-year-old girl whose adult boyfriend allegedly used her as a Backpage call girl testified Friday in graphic and horrific detail about the chain of events leading up to the murder of a local popular chef.

The girl took the witness stand in the second floor courtroom of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and accused her 27-year-old boyfriend of killing Douglas “Chef Doug” Calhoun during the early morning of June 1.

Travun Baskerville was ordered to stand trial for first-degree murder and multiple other charges in Calhoun’s death after a preliminary hearing before Judge Lydia Nance Adams in 36th District Court.

The girl said the slaying occurred at her and Baskerville’s home in the 14600 block of Burgess after she and Calhoun got into an argument over his alleged request not to wear a condom during a $50 sex act for which Calhoun paid her.

After she told Calhoun, 39, that he would have to wear a condom, the man allegedly asked for his money back and the two argued, prompting Baskerville to come out of a bedroom and shoot Calhoun multiple times.

Calhoun was last seen May 31. His family and friends posted his photos and other information on social media in hopes of finding him. His partial skeletal remains were found in a barrel in a garage at an abandoned home on the city’s west side. The cause of death, according to the medical examiner’s report, was multiple gunshot wounds.

Besides the murder count, Baskerville also was ordered to stand trial on charges of human trafficking of a minor for commercial sexual activity, child sexually abusive activity, human trafficking enterprise involving death, possession of child sexually abusive material and possession of a firearm by a felon and felony firearm.

The girl said she helped Baskerville carry Calhoun’s body out of the Burgess Street home to a Dumpster at the back of the residence. Calhoun’s body was later moved around the corner, allegedly by Baskerville, to a garage at an abandoned home on Greydale Street.

The couple went out to eat at a local grocery store after Calhoun’s murder, the girl testified.

Calhoun’s family members said he was a retired Marine who owned and operated a catering business. Relatives and friends packed the courtroom to hear the case.

When asked by Baskerville’s defense attorney Joel Dorf why she didn’t go to police about the murder, the girl said: “I was afraid of him.”

Prosecutors later played two audiotapes from July of a man they identified as Baskerville calling from jail and asking the girl not to cooperate with authorities or give them information about the shooting.

“I didn’t say anything,” the man in the recording said. “I’ll take all the (expletive) charges before I let anything happen to you. Don’t say nothing. I’ll do life before I let you get anywhere near this .... place. You just gotta be quiet.”

At one point the girl was asked by the jailhouse caller, “Did you say anything? yes or no” before time ran out on the phone call.

The girl said she gave all of the money that she made performing sex acts to Baskerville. and when she asked him about getting a job, he told her he didn’t want to work for “the white man.”

She said she doesn’t remember how many individuals Baskerville allegedly had her provide sex to, but that it was more than one person per day and that he forced her to perform sex acts for customers even when she didn’t feel up to it.

“He would get mad at me,” said the girl. “He would get physical. He would put his hands on me.”

The girl was given immunity from prosecution in exchange for information about the murder. Dorf said the girl’s credibility is in question because she didn’t call police about Calhoun’s killing and lied to investigators, such as telling them Baskerville used a hammer on Calhoun.

Baskerville is scheduled for an arraignment on information Sept. 29.