Lydia Tillman is forever linked to Kenia Monge. The women who never knew each other shared the same nightmare on different nights when they were raped by and strangled by Travis Forbes in Colorado in 2011.
Forbes killed Monge in April that year and thought he had killed Tillman only three months later when he left her for dead in a burning apartment. Tillman survived by jumping out of her second-story window, but it was a long road to recovery.
According to ABCNews, Forbes “sexually assaulted and strangled Tillman, beat her head, shattered her jaw, and left her for dead in her apartment. To cover his crime, police say the man then poured bleach on her body and throughout her apartment, then started a fire.”
At that time Forbes had been a suspect in the Monge case, but no charges had been filed, and Monge’s body had not been found. She was a missing person.
According to Investigation Discovery, Monge had been out drinking with friends in downtown Denver and left the club without her phone or purse. She was never seen alive again.
The family got her phone back and Monge’s father found a text in her phone from Forbes that said, “Hey this is Travis, the guy in the creepy white van. Did you find your car okay?”
After police investigated Forbes, they discovered that his van smelled like bleach and had new carpeting installed. While Travis was a suspect in Monge’s disappearance, there wasn’t enough evidence to make an arrest.
That is — until Forbes’ DNA was found under Tillman’s fingernails.
Forbes Confessed to Raping Monge While She Was Passed Out in His Van, Strangling Her to Death & Riding Around With Her Body for a Day in a Cooler Before Putting it in a Freezer at His Granola Company
Forbes eventually confessed to raping and killing Monge and to attacking Tillman after his DNA was found under Tillman’s fingernails.
Oxygen reported that Forbes told investigators, “I wanna confess. I wanna confess so bad.” But said he had one condition, which was not to be labeled a sex offender saying, “Because if I go to prison as a sex offender, I’m f**ked,” he said.
According to Forbes confession, he met Monge, 19, in downtown Denver on April 1. He said she was drunk and upset and he offered her a ride, which she accepted.
Oxygen reported that Forbes said, “I definitely took advantage of her being drunk,” saying he had sex with her while she was passed out in his van.
“She kinda came to and she realized that we had had sex,” Forbes said. “And she started hitting me, and I started hitting her back … And then she started to scream. And I strangled her. I strangled her. I strangled her. I killed her.”
Forbes said he put Monge’s body in a cooler and rode around with it for a day before storing the body in a freezer where he made granola bars for his business. He said he burned all Monge’s clothes and anything that she touched.
He later buried Monge’s remains in a shallow grave in the Keensburg area about 36 miles northeast of Denver. Forbes took Investigators to the site in September, five months after he killed her.
Forbes’ Second Known Victim, Tillman, Had a Stroke After Her Attack and Was in a Coma for 5 Weeks But Fought Hard for Recovery
Three months after Forbes raped and murdered Monge, he followed Tillman home on the Fourth of July after the fireworks in Ft. Collins, a college town about an hour north of Denver.
Tillman said she noticed a stranger following her and when she got to her house he pushed her inside. Tillman said she doesn’t remember anything about the attack due to a stroke she suffered following the attack which left her in a coma for five weeks.
Tillman was still in a coma when Forbes was arrested, ABC reported, but only two days after she awoke she started writing her statement to submit to the court on Forbes’ sentencing date.
By the time Sept. 27 came around, Tillman was able to read the statement herself at court.
She said, “Travis Forbes, you caused me no harm. My spirit, my soul and my mind remain untouched. May you find peace in this life.”
According to ABC, it took Tillman over an hour to write those three sentences.
Forbes agreed to plead guilty as long as the death penalty was off the table. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for Monge’s murder. For the brutal attack and attempted murder of Tillman, Forbes was sentenced to 48 years.
Tillman still lives in Ft. Collins and is a yoga instructor and barista, according to her Facebook page.
When Tillman shared her story in 2015, she said, “It comes down to a choice. Do you want to live in love or in fear? I choose love, continuously.”