The Evil That Men Do: A missing child; one tenuous clue; a massive police investigation. Their inquiries will lead them into the very heart of darkness.
Murder at Kinky Cottage: The cottage had a notorious reputation as a venue for sex orgies. It was all fun and games until someone got killed.
True Lies: Everyone knew that Paul had only a tenuous relationship with the truth. So why would they believe him when he started boasting about murder?
Hell on Wheels: Ted was a talented wheelchair athlete destined for the 2000 Paralympic Games. He was also a prolific burglar…and a killer.
Shooter’s Ghost: A staid college professor gets involved in an affair with a promiscuous young woman. Neither of them will make it out alive.
A Chronicle of Heartlessness: A mentally-challenged young woman befriends a gang of ne’er-do-goods. That’s all good and well…until she outlives her usefulness.
Hell is for Children: The harrowing, heart-breaking story of a little girl subjected to unspeakably cruelty by the people who should have been caring for her – her own family.
Murder Most Vile Volume 36
But the next day would bring no answers to the mystery, only deepening concerns. When one of Kenia’s friends went to drop off the purse and cellphone at her parents’ house, she received the alarming news that Kenia had not come home. Kenia’s parents were also shocked. They had assumed that she’d stayed over with a friend. Only now would they hear the story of her mysterious disappearance. They went immediately to the police and reported their daughter missing.
The first clue in the case was not long in coming. On Kenia’s cellphone, police found a text message from a man named Travis Forbes. Forbes was not exactly a stranger to law enforcement. The 31-year-old had a long rap sheet, with most of the offenses relating to violence against women. He was currently on probation for just such an attack. If he had been in touch with Kenia on the night she disappeared, then investigators were seriously concerned for her safety.
And so, Forbes was brought in for questioning, with detectives fully expecting him to deny knowing Kenia. If he did so, they’d have him, since the cellphone record would prove that he was lying. To their surprise, though, Forbes readily admitted that he’d been with Kenia the previous evening. According to him, he’d been driving his van around downtown when he’d spotted an extremely inebriated young woman. Fearing that something might happen to her out on the streets, he’d stopped and offered assistance. Kenia had then told him that she’d been separated from her friends and was trying to find them. They’d been together at a bar, but she couldn’t remember what it was called or where it was. Forbes had then offered to drive her home, which Kenia had accepted. Somewhere along the way, she’d said that she wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes and Forbes had pulled in at a Conoco gas station. While they were there, Kenia had struck up a conversation with another man and had left with him, Forbes said. That was the last he’d seen of her.
Police detectives hear more lies than just about anyone else on the planet. They have a finely tuned radar for untruths and this story fit just about every criterion. It just didn’t ring true. Kenia’s friends and family didn’t believe it either. She had definitely not been as drunk as Forbes had described and was not the kind of person to go off with a stranger. As investigators started looking into Forbes’ story, more red flags began to be raised. For starters, the gas station he claimed to have stopped at had already been closed at that hour. There was also Forbes’ van. When officers searched it, they noticed the distinct odor of bleach. The vehicle had recently been cleaned and was also missing a section of carpet, which appeared to have been cut out.
And then there was the surveillance footage. Forbes made his living selling gluten-free granola bars and hired space at a local bakery for this purpose. The premises were monitored by CCTV cameras but on the night that Kenia disappeared, Forbes could be seen on camera going into the manager’s office to disconnect the system. The cameras were back on by the following morning, though, and now Forbes could be seen wheeling a large cooler box and storing it in a freezer. The same camera later recorded him cleaning the van and ripping out the missing piece of carpet. It was beginning to look very suspicious indeed.
But suspecting someone of wrongdoing, and proving it, are different things entirely. Denver PD may have believed that Travis Forbes was involved in Kenia’s disappearance, but they were all too aware that their case was circumstantial and that it would never stand up in a court of law. Forbes appeared to know this too. He continued to deny any wrongdoing, almost challenging the police to prove otherwise. Since they were unable to do so, Travis Forbes was free to go.
Lydia Tillman was far more worldly-wise than Kenia Monge. The 30-year-old had traveled the globe in her career as a certified sommelier. She was not someone who was easily fooled. And yet, she too fell for the charms of a handsome, smooth-talking stranger. Lydia struck up a conversation with the man at a 4th of July fireworks display in downtown Fort Collins, Colorado, some 60 miles north of Denver. The pair ended up back at her apartment and it was there that Lydia’s nightmare began. The man suddenly turned on her, launching a ferocious attack, dislocating her jaw, throttling her until she blacked out, and then savagely raping her. Then, apparently believing that she was dead, he doused her body with bleach and set the apartment on fire. Lydia woke to the shrill whine of the smoke alarm. Confused, disorientated, and in severe pain, she nonetheless knew that she had to get out. Since the hallway was shrouded in choking fumes, she made her way onto the balcony and dropped from there, two floors to the ground. She then hobbled towards the ambulance that had just pulled up outside.
Lydia was alive but only just. While paramedics were attending to her, she suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma. She would remain in that condition, clinging precariously to life, for the next five weeks.
But while Lydia could not tell investigators about the attack that had almost taken her life, she could, via the wonders of DNA, point a finger at her assailant. Crime scene technicians were able to retrieve skin cells from under her fingernails and when these were run against the state database, they returned a match. The man who had attacked Lydia Tillman was Travis Forbes.
A warrant was immediately issued for Forbes, and he was taken into custody on July 10, 2011. At the time of his arrest, he was walking with another young woman near the Colorado State University campus. She had no idea of the kind of danger she had been in. Since there was no point in denying the attack on Lydia Tillman, Forbes admitted it. State prosecutors then put a one-time offer on the table. They informed Forbes that they would not seek the death penalty against him if he confessed to the murder of Kenia Monge. Realizing perhaps that the odds were stacked against him, Forbes agreed and admitted that he had killed Kenia.
According to Forbes, he had encountered Kenia walking the streets in an inebriated state. She told him that she’d become separated from her friends, so he offered to help her find them. However, once Kenia was inside his van, she passed out. That was when he decided to have sex with her. He assaulted her twice but during the second rape, she woke up and started fighting him. During the ensuing struggle, he’d “accidentally” strangled her.
Now Forbes had a problem, a dead body that needed to be disposed of. Needing to buy time, he drove to his workplace and stored the corpse in a freezer. Then he cleaned out the van and removed all trace of Kenia having been there. The interior was washed down with bleach, while a section of carpet was ripped out and later burned, along with the clothes that Forbes had been wearing. The following day, he crammed his victim’s body into a cooler box and drove to an area off Interstate 76, where he buried her in a shallow grave. He would later lead police to the site, from which they retrieved the young woman’s remains. Five months after her disappearance, Kenia Monge’s family could finally lay her to rest.
But was the story that Travis Forbes told the police an accurate description of Kenia Monge’s final hours? It seems highly unlikely. Like all sociopaths, Forbes was a consummate liar. He got a kick out of misleading people and his confession was no different. Are we really to believe that a predator like Forbes saw a young woman in distress and that his first instinct was to offer assistance? Are we to accept his story that Kenia’s death was an accident? No, that is most certainly a lie. Far more likely is that he spotted Kenia and decided that he wanted her. After that, he either forced or talked her into his van and had his way with her. Then, having sated his depraved lust, he disposed of her, giving it barely a second thought. The murder must have thrilled him, though, because he tried to commit another, just three months later.
On September 27, 2001, Travis Forbes entered guilty pleas to the charges of murder and attempted murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. That is good news for the women of Colorado. There can be little doubt that Forbes would have killed again, more than likely going on the become a serial killer. He was well endowed for that task. He was a handsome man, with the devil’s silver tongue. Women were drawn to him. But for Lydia Tillman’s determination to survive, we would undoubtedly be counting more corpses.
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