In April 2011, 19-year-old Kenia Monge disappeared in downtown Denver, Colorado. Her gruesome fate was not known until months later when Travis Forbes was arrested for the brutal assault of another woman, Lydia Tillman. Ahead of the Dateline: NBC episode about Forbes’ case, titled “Deadly Connection,” here’s what you need to know about Forbes’ crimes and where he is today.
Forbes Is Serving a Life Sentence
In September 2011, Forbes agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Kenia Monge and attempted first-degree murder in the attack on Lydia Tillman in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty.
He received a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Monge’s death and a 48-year sentence for Tillman’s attack.
“We wanted 48 more years on top of that to make sure that there’s no chance that for the rest of his life he’d ever get out,” Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson told Denver’s CBS affiliate at the time.
“Why did I do this? I have been searching for that also in my heart and soul. I think we commit violent acts because deep down we find hatred of ourselves. I am so thankful that Lydia Tillman survived because if I hadn’t been caught, I probably would have done this again because deep down I’m f**ked up. I’m evil,” Forbes said in court.
It was Tillman’s Attack That Led to Solving Monge’s Case
Tillman met Forbes at the 2011 Fort Collins, Colorado, 4th of July celebration. They went back to her apartment where Forbes sexually assaulted her and beat her so badly that it shattered her jaw. He then doused her with bleach and set the apartment on fire. Tillman survived by jumping out the second-story window. EMTs had just arrived on the scene and were able to help her when she then suffered a stroke at the scene that left her in a coma for five weeks.
Authorities credited Tillman’s escape with preserving the DNA evidence that came back as a match for Forbes, according to ABC News. Police arrested Forbes on July 10 of that year and he immediately confessed to both Tillman’s assault and the murder of Kenia Monge.
According to an Oxygen profile of the case, Forbes requested that authorities not seek the death penalty nor let him go to prison labeled as a sex offender.
He then confessed to Monge’s murder, telling the police that he found Monge walking around intoxicated in downtown Denver and got her to get into his van. After she passed out, he sexually assaulted her and when she regained consciousness and realized what he had done, she began hitting him, so he hit her back and then strangled her until she was dead.
Forbes told police he drove around with her body for an entire day before stashing her in the freezer of the bakery where he worked, then cleaned out his van with bleach. He later buried Monge’s body in a small grove of trees about 40 miles outside of Denver. Crime scene analysts found her remains after Forbes confessed.
Police had previously questioned Forbes in Monge’s disappearance because Monge’s stepfather found a text message from Forbes on Monge’s cell phone. Forbes initially said he was giving Monge a ride home when she asked to stop at a Conoco gas station to get cigarettes. There he said she wandered off with a fellow smoker and he never saw her again. With no physical evidence tying him to Monge’s disappearance, police had no grounds to arrest Forbes, but the police just knew somehow Forbes was involved, especially because his van smelled overwhelmingly of bleach and had brand-new carpet inside.
“It didn’t sit right with the officers … Everybody’s thinking, ‘Something’s up with this guy,’” Detective Nash Gurule told Oxygen.
Tillman Has Managed to Forgive Forbes For His Crime
When Forbes was sentenced for his crimes, a statement from Tillman was read in court that said, “You have taken nothing from me. My spirit, my soul and my mind remain untouched. May you find peace in this life.”
And in a written statement to ABC News, Tillman said, “It was my intention to find the strength in my heart to forgive Travis Forbes. I did. I felt extreme anger toward him, then I felt sad for him. He must be in so much extreme pain to so brutally hurt another human.”
She also told the news site that she is able to run several miles a day and participate in yoga with the hope that one day she will be able to climb Longs Peak, a 14,000-foot mountain outside of Estes Park, Colorado.
Dateline: NBC airs Fridays and Saturdays on NBC.