tv Dateline Extra MSNBC December 30, 2018 5:00pm-7:00pm PST
frontier, i think, as well as elih, you mentioned the findings of the mueller investigation. thank you-all so much for being here. that will do it for us this year on "kasie d.c." we'll be back next week but for now, good night from washington. now, good night from washington. a gorgeous evening. girls' night out. >> she loved to have fun. >> yeah, she loved to have fun. >> kenia was bright, pretty, adored by everyone. >> i felt like she was like my twin. >> partying with friends. somehow she disappeared. >> she's like are you with kenia? and i said no, i thought she was with you. >> reporter: where was she?
confounding clues on a surveillance tape. and strange stories from a witness. >> not one word of what he told me made any sense to me. >> and then another beauty. this one left for dead. >> she was unrecognizable. >> was evil stalking young women? >> both dark-haired, both pretty girls. chillingly similar. >> a case that led to unheard of places. >> in the history of my department that's never happened. >> and then finally, far from the city, the truth, revealed on a quiet country road. >> he got out of the car and let out this scream. >> and an act of courage from a woman who refused to be a victim. >> and i won. >> and now, go inside a "deadly connection." hello, welcome to "date line extra." i'm craig melvin. they knew each other and their
lives would be connected by a smooth talking stranger with a soul as dark as they come. and even he would be left speechless by the final twist in this case. here is keith morrison. >> reporter: the woman in the icu was barely alive. her jaw shattered in a dozen pieces. a once beautiful face unrecognizable after the brutal beating, the rape, the fire, the fall, the massive nearly fatal stroke. someone thought she'd be dead now. someone who fled into the night. someone killing women. and this one deep in a coma at the threshold of death is their only chance to catch him before he does it again. what happened here was spawned in a very dark corner of the human condition.
but a terrifying flaw that forces us to admit yes, virginia, there really is a bogey man. and against him were the only weapons they had. the power of one family. a determined cop. and one remarkable gift in the face of evil. here's where it began, three months before that scene in the icu. this is the nightclub district, denver, colorado. people here call this part of town lodo. short for lower downtown. very trendy. it was the night before april fool's day 2011. a warm spring evening in denver. girls' night out. an attractive 19-year-old named kenia monge was on her way to lodo to party with some girlfriends. >> she was very kind, friendly,
outgoing. just a happy person. >> reporter: among the partiers, janet gomez, one of kenia's closest friends. she loved to have fun. >> yeah, she loved to have fun. >> reporter: underage fun. no trouble sneaking in. they charmed the bouncers, flashed fake i.d.s. kenia and her crew had a kind of unwritten safety rule. go together and leave together. look out for each other. but on this particular night things didn't go as planned. >> we had planned to meet at lavish. we went in there, and she wasn't in there. >> reporter: kenia had gotten a ride downtown with two other girls she didn't know very well. her plan was to meet janet and some other friends at lavish, but she didn't show up. >> i started texting her, and no response. and i called her three times.
nothing. >> reporter: what janet didn't know is that kenia and the two other girls couldn't get into the club. the bouncers weren't buying their fake i.d. cards. so they went to another club nearby, even took a few pictures. but they didn't tell anyone they were there. >> and i sent her the last message about 11:30, and nothing. >> reporter: so when the clubs closed, janet headed home without kenia, who she assumed was with some other friends. >> i thought okay, they're probably just having fun, she'll call tomorrow. she would always call me in the morning. >> she wouldn't take chances. >> no. >> let me see how i look. >> reporter: no because though she loved to party, kenia was known as the responsible one. reliable, ambitious, hard-working, not flaky at all.
she had recently graduated from one of colorado's top high schools, was now considering careers in tv production or criminology. here she is directing a student film. all the more remarkable because just seven years earlier kenia didn't know more than a word or two of english. >> [ speaking spanish ]. >> reporter: and not a single person in denver. apart, that is, from her mother, maria, who had migrated from honduras a few years before. and when she and kenia were finally reunited -- >> it was the happy day in my life. when i held her, hold her, telling her how much i miss her. and she said me too, mom, and now we are together, nothing going to separate us. >> reporter: by the time kenia came to colorado maria was married to tony lee and together they had two children. now kenia made three. >> i remember meeting her for
the first time. the first words that she said to me were "thank you, daddy." i'll never forget that. and she hugged me. >> reporter: so connecting with the family took no time at all. >> i always thought about the song from the brady family, how we all came together and became a -- became a family. it was pretty much that was kind of how it worked out. and it clicked from day one. >> and there's all the girls there, all the wonderful women in my life. >> thank you, daddy. >> reporter: and for kenia's little sister, kimberly, it felt like the best thing that ever happened. >> tomorrow kenia makes one whole year in america. >> i thought she was going to be like the big sister everybody dreams of. it was even better than i imagined. >> better? >> mm-hmm. she was very loving and caring. i felt like she was my twin. we'd text each other every day. every morning, every night, throughout school. she would call me sometimes. she'd just want to say i love you.
>> reporter: but she was independent, too, was kenia. after high school she moved out to make it on her own. >> she always wanted to be something big. she always wanted to be a ceo of something. that was her goal in life, was to be somebody. >> ah! >> she came from having nothing to being somebody, and on one of her calendars it says like study, study, study, and then it says party on the last day. she was balancing her job, and she was balancing school, and she was balancing like her party life. >> reporter: but on the morning of april fool's day 2011 nothing was balanced. something was wrong. her friend janet gomez desperate to hear from kenia dove for her phone the moment it rang. but it wasn't from kenia. it was another girlfriend. >> she's like are you with kenia? and i say no. i thought she was with you.
and that's when it all started. >> reporter: started? oh, it had more than started for kenia monge. swallowed up by, well, whatever it was. some dark presence haunting the happy dipsy streets of lodo. >> coming up, kenia's family starts to worry. and that dark presence, whatever it might be, had it come for their own daughter? >> something is wrong. something is wrong. >> that's when i went into high alert. >> when "chilling connections" continues. n "chilling connectio" continues. shield℠ annuities from brighthouse financial
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concerned. they were about to get a clue. her cell phone turned up and on it her father would discover a mysterious text from a stranger. who was he and could he lead them to kenya? again is keith morrison. april 1st, 2011. dawn in denver, colorado. calm, spring-like. and for the friends of kenia monge, terrifying. >> i just kept calling her and calling her. we were all worried and scared. >> reporter: where was she? kenia was supposed to have met her friends at a downtown bar the night before. didn't show. and now she didn't answer her phone. not like kenia. not at all. >> we didn't know what happened. nobody knew nothing. >> reporter: kenia's friends, truly frightened now, kept texting, calling. but not a single lead turned up.
no tips, no clues, and no kenia. >> we were just trying to be strong because we don't want to think negative or anything. we had a lot of thoughts. i don't know. maybe we should have done that. >> done what? >> going out to -- you know, we were just 19. we were not 21. >> yeah. and you should have looked after her. >> yeah. she wasn't with me. because i know if she would have been with me she would have been safe. >> reporter: even her sister kim, with whom kenia texted constantly, hadn't heard a word. but she did get a call from kenia's boyfriend, who'd been talking to kenia's worried friends. >> he was like have you seen your sister? and i was like, no. he was like, have you talked to her? i was like, no. he was like, well, she's missing. i was like, shut up. like this isn't funny. tell me the truth. like where is she? and he was like, i'm being serious, you need to call your parents and tell them to call the police and file a missing persons report. and then i called my mom. >> i started calling my sisters and my -- all the family.
i said maybe it's a joke. and my sister got very worried. she said i don't think so it's a joke. >> when i got back home from my daughter kim and she said that she had not heard anything from her that day, that's when i went into high alert. >> reporter: but when tony called kenia's friends, they weren't exactly straight with him about their underage bar hopping the night before in those lodo nightclubs. >> it was very, very, very confusing because these girls were -- they were not telling me the truth about what they were doing and where they were at because they were covering their asses. >> reporter: so tony turned amateur detective and was finally able to confirm that kenia had spent the evening not with her close friends but with two other girls she barely knew. and -- >> she had left her purse, a phone and her i.d. and all that stuff in the bar. >> reporter: her stuff. kenia never went anywhere without it.
especially her cell phone. and she certainly wouldn't just leave it with two people she hardly knew. >> something is really wrong. something is wrong. >> reporter: the night after kenia was last seen here in lodo one of the girls she was drinking with showed up at the lees' house to drop off her belongings. kenia was happily dancing till about 1:00 in the morning she said with some guy and then she disappeared. they looked for her but couldn't find her, she said. and when the bar closed, they took her purse and cell phone and just kind of assumed that kenia would get home on her own somehow. >> reporter: i was looking through her text messages from the day before and these conversations she was having with her friends, hey, this is where we're going to hook up at. >> reporter: the phone showed that kenia suddenly stopped sending texts right after 11:00 p.m. but of course her phone kept receiving texts, practically all night. >> her boyfriend started texting her asking her, hey, where you at?
you being good? hey, you're not contacting me. >> reporter: the next morning the texts continued from kenia's friends, all asking where was she. >> and then there was a dead area, and then the next text that came in was about 7:00 p.m. that night. >> reporter: but this one? this one jumped off the screen, was just plain weird. >> and the message said, "hey, this is travis, the guy in the creepy white van, smiley face. did you get home okay?" >> reporter: travis? who was travis? nobody in kenia's circle of friends and family had ever heard of anybody named travis. >> i kept calling him. i kept leaving these messages. >> reporter: no answer. no calls back. at this point the mysterious travis in the creepy white van was the only possible lead in their daughter's disappearance. they filed a missing persons report. but it was too soon, the police told them, to start an investigation. and so alone, they panicked.
>> we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off and we didn't know what to do first. so we were just trying to figure out what have we got to do. >> reporter: and then, one terrifying day later, the mysterious travis finally returned tony's calls. and travis had some rather stunning news about kenia's whereabouts and just who she might be with. coming up, tony on a mission that would leave his wife paralyzed with fear. >> i was so afraid. >> grabbed the 9-millimeter pistol, and i packed it in my waist, and i told her, i'm on my way to meet this guy. >> when "dateline" continues.
kenia was missing. her father was searching her phone for clues and noticed a text from someone named travis, a name unknown to friends and family and tony was about to set up a meeting with the mystery man. did travis know what happened to kenia. continuing with the story here is keith morrison. ah, that's what you got? >> reporter: kenia and kimberly. as close as two sisters could be. always together, always talking and texting, facebooking.
at first when the messages suddenly stopped -- >> i didn't really take it seriously, like i didn't think she was going to be gone that long. >> reporter: but after 48 long hours -- >> what's that like? that feeling. >> it's a feeling of being like desperate to know where your sister is. because that was not only my best friend, like that was my sister. that was my other half. that was everything to me. >> reporter: and then that second night after kenia vanished there was this call from a total stranger named travis. >> travis? >> travis called me back about 8:00 p.m. >> reporter: the guy who left that rather odd text message on kenia's phone to see if she'd gotten home safely from the nightclub. >> and he told me the story. yeah, you know, i seen her out there. asked her if she needed any help because she seemed like she was really drunk and she was really out of it, you know. so i said, well, i'd better help her. so she got in my van. >> reporter: travis told kenia's dad that as he was driving her
moment she asked to stop at a gas station for cigarettes. but there something strange happened. she met another guy, who said he'd take her home. and so, said travis, he left them there. >> and that's the last he saw of her? >> that's what he said. that's the last he saw of her. and i got off the phone, and i thought to myself, that is the most fantastic story i've ever heard. not one word of what he told me made any sense to me. >> reporter: tony called the denver police to report all that but was told, remember, that the cops couldn't open an investigation because kenia hadn't been missing long enough. >> i'm pissed. i'm sitting there, i'm like i can't believe this. so i took matters into my own hands. i called travis back. and i said, travis, i've got some questions i want to ask you. tell me again where you last saw her at. and he says, well, i was at this conoco station. tell you what, why don't you meet me there? i told him i'm on my way. >> i was so afraid.
i said oh, my god. >> i grabbed the 9-millimeter pistol. i packed it in my waist. and i told her, i'm on my way to meet this guy. maria was down on her hands and knees literally begging me tony, don't do this, don't go down there, this is dangerous, this don't sound right. i told her i've got to go, they're not going to do anything, i've got to go. >> and i grabbed the phone and i called 911. >> reporter: tony roared over to that conoco station nerves on edge, gun close to hand, expecting what? a violent confrontation? a dangerous standoff? a weirdo? but it was none of those things. travis forbes was there, all right. patiently waiting. and he looked just fine. not scary at all. >> he was very thin. blond hair, blue eyes, good-looking guy. my first impression of him was, you know, looks decent enough guy, if you're going to have somebody pick up your kid, you know, and help them out, you know. >> seemed like a nice guy. >> yeah.
>> reporter: and because maria called 911, the denver police were at the gas station, too. so the cops, not tony, did most of the talking with travis. >> he told them that same story that he told me on the phone, and it was very consistent. the story that he told them matched exactly. i told the officers, i said man, everything he's told me just don't sound right. it just don't sound right. >> reporter: it didn't sound right to the cops either. but they had nothing to hold travis on. he'd been cooperative, forthcoming, concerned for kenia. so they let him go. as the meeting wrapped up, travis sidled up to tony and started talking. >> he was crying me. he was telling me i promised i'd take care of her, i wish i could have followed through on what i'd done, i feel responsible for, this i wish i could have done more. >> reporter: travis certainly seemed sincere. his story, though strange, was consistent. maybe he was telling the truth and that man kenia met at the gas station had abducted her.
>> i stuck my hand out, said appreciate it. and we shook hands. and when i shook his hand, it was as if an earthquake was going on under his feet and it was only in my hand i could feel it. his arm wasn't shaking, his body wasn't shaking, there was no quivering, but i felt that shake. and i looked at it. and i knew i'd shaken the hand of the last person that had seen kenia alive. there was no doubt in my mind. i knew in that instant. >> and you believed as of that moment that she was dead? >> yes. >> coming up -- was he right? detectives were about to come across a disturbing clue inside that so-called creepy white van they turned up something very strange indeed. coming up. >> he was determined to erase something. >> everything. everything. so we're going through his van. we're taking off doors. we're crawling under feet it. >> when "chilling connections" continues. when "chilling conne" continues. man: tom's my best friend,
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hi, richard lui. the republicans may be willing to compromise. president trump is open minded but not committed about a deal with the democrats that would benefit dreamers in exchange for funding for a border wall. in north carolina a worker is killed by a lion that escaped from the zoo enclosure. alexandria black had only been working there for several weeks as an intern. the lion was later shot and killed. for now, back to "dateline." welcome back to "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. he was on a mission to find his daughter kenia missing for 48 hours. he just met with travis forbes, a mysterious stranger that claimed he had given kenia a ride the night they disappeared. they stopped at a gas station where he said she walked off
with another man but was travis telling the truth or was he the last person to see kenia alive? again is keith morrison. ♪ kenia monge was at a downtown denver nightclub with her friends one week ago. >> reporter: kenia monge's disappearance was big news in denver. >> she was last seen wearing a black skirt, black jacket, and red high-heeled shoes. >> reporter: kenia's family was frantic, desperately hoping she was still alive. >> i couldn't sleep. i'd pray. i'd get on my knees every day, god, please, bring kenia home. please. >> reporter: janet gomez and kenia's other close friends kept looking, hoping someone would come forward with a clue. >> we kept just putting flyers everywhere. we had to do it. you know, she was our friend. >> and got nowhere.
>> you just have to be strong and just pray for the best. >> reporter: and now family and friends were not alone in the search for kenia. a veteran denver police detective named nash gurule started looking too. to say detective gurule is imposing is perhaps an understatement. looks more like a character from "the sopranos." but hates when children go missing. >> i wanted to find her. i wanted to give her family closure. i wanted to give the city of denver closure. i was determined to bring her home. i was determined to bring her home. >> reporter: also assigned to the case was deputy d.a. kerri lombardi. >> we had to do something. and time was of the essence because she they were still hoping she was alive. >> reporter: they focused first of course on the good samaritan, the guy who'd given kenia a ride, travis forbes. he was 31, they discovered, had a rap sheet for theft and drugs.
but now he owned a small business in denver, baking and delivering gluten-free granola bars. he was renting a space at a local bakery, owned by monica poole. >> travis was energetic. he seemed friendly. wanted to have a business. he launched into granola bars, which i thought was a great idea. they didn't exist in the marketplace. not the way he was making them. >> reporter: travis could bake. but he wasn't the best businessman. he was often in debt, sometimes missed deliveries and deadlines. and one day he came to work, seemed a little frazzled, and told monica about his odd encounter the night before. >> he said i gave some girl a ride home and she's missing and she's gone. and i thought, wow, that's kind of strange. whatever. >> reporter: then a few days later monica's bakery was crawling with cops. >> when the police showed up, i
thought, wow, that must be that missing girl. >> reporter: detectives looked around, even shot this video of the place. but they didn't find much. travis was there. so they took him downtown for questioning. >> travis, this is detective gurule. >> how's it going? travis. >> he's a talker. very, very charming. very manipulative. >> i never met her before then -- >> reporter: and talk travis did. reciting the very same story he told tony lee, about picking up a lost and distressed kenia downtown. then stopping for cigarettes at that gas station. where she met another man, who said he'd take her home. >> she put her arm through his arm. like while they were -- while they were sitting there smoking. and they walked off. and that was it. that was the last -- that was it. then i went home. >> and that's the last you see her? >> yes. >> reporter: travis was cool, calm, even contrite about
leaving kenia with that strange fellow at the gas station. >> if she had made the choice to -- to go back home or to get right in, i would have taken her home. i would not -- i mean, and if i had felt any sort of -- any sort of weirdness about her walk over with that guy, i would have done something. >> he was really worried about this whole, very about this missing girl. but we believe you. he didn't do anything. >> reporter: in fact there, was no evidence travis did anything wrong. he certainly wasn't a suspect. barely a person of interest. he even had an alibi for his whereabouts after he dropped off kenia. >> he said he'd gone to his girlfriend's house. at the time that we knew that she had disappeared. and then his girlfriend came in. but she supported his statement. >> yeah. >> reporter: of course they let him go. had to. but what about that mysterious man travis said he left kenia with at the gas station? >> we couldn't find him. he was gone. >> wow. >> we send out bulletins. we put it on the news. and we didn't get anybody to
come forward and say, yeah, i know this guy. >> reporter: but d.a. lombardi did get a search warrant for travis's white cargo van, to see if it held any clues. and inside it reeked of bleach. >> to the point where when you spray something like on a ceiling, a roof, and you spray it so much it drips down, that's how much bleach he'd sprayed on this van. >> he was determined to erase something. >> everything. everything. so we're going through his van, we're taking off doors, we're vacuuming, we're crawling underneath it. >> reporter: the van for the most part was spotless. except for something odd that caught the cop's attention. >> we found some weeds underneath. we found some dirt. some dust. different things. >> hmm. what'd that tell you? >> he's been on a dirt road. at least that van has.
>> reporter: so gurule and lombardi pored through travis's cell phone records to see where he was at the time of kenia's disappearance. and they noticed he made and received several calls from a rural area near a little place called keenesburg, about 40 miles northeast of denver. not exactly one of the stops along travis' granola bar delivery route. >> we sent probably 25 detectives up there, looking at fields, running the gulches, checking the ponds, talking to neighbors, see if they saw a white van. we were checking everything. >> but there was no sign. >> nothing. >> reporter: but back at the bakery, another clue surfaced. on surveillance video it showed travis forbes doing a lot more than baking granola bars. >> coming up -- just what was he doing? >> that just seemed really strange. >> and then another piece of videotape. >> we were all watching. and we lost it.
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recorded in the days just after kenia went missing, police wondered had the camera captured the young man covering up a crime? again is keith morrison. the trouble started before kenia monge went missing. trouble at this denver bakery, that is. the one where travis forbes rented space to bake his granola bars. somebody was pilfering money from the bakery cash register. owner monica poole was at first puzzled by the discrepancy, then gradually became sure there was a thief in the shop. fortunately, monica had allowed for the possibility of that sort of thing when she had surveillance cameras installed around the shop. so by now, a couple of days after kenia disappeared, she went to check the tape. to see if that would tell her who took the cash. but for some strange reason the recorder was unplugged. >> i plugged it back in, and i wound it back to the place to see who had unplugged it. >> reporter: it was travis forbes.
turning off the system. so monica rewound the tape a little farther. but if she expected to see travis stealing, she got a surprise. it looked like he had been scrubbing. >> so as he's coming into the office with these gloves on his hand, they're not just like little gloves like you wear when you're handling food. they're cleaning gloves. rubber, latex, you know, the kind that -- yellow. go all the way up to your elbows. i thought what in the world's he wearing those for? >> reporter: monica stopped the tape and called the cops. who took a good look at the whole security system and found this intriguing scene of travis, this time with his granola bar cooler. >> he actually unloads the cooler, puts it on a little cart, and it's taped shut with black duct tape. and puts it into the freezer in the bakery. and there's employees walking around. >> reporter: detective gurule consulted monica. >> the police asked me did he store the cooler in the freezer? and i said no.
he never puts it in the freezer. it has granola bars in it. they don't need to be frozen. so that just seemed really strange. >> reporter: all that. the cleaning, the cooler moving, happened two nights after kenia went missing. so detective gurule checked with several of the bakery's employees to see what else travis was up to that evening. >> he burns some stuff in a barrel. we found that barrel down the alley at the other end of the parking lot. and monica poole told one of the detectives, hey, that's my grease barrel. what's it doing down there? >> reporter: travis claimed he was using it to burn some moldy marijuana. the barrel was sent to the crime lab. >> we ran that for dna. we ran that for fingerprints. >> reporter: but nothing turned up. if there were any clues in that barrel, they had been burned.
travis forbes, despite all his suspicious behavior and his strange story, was still just a person of interest. >> people do weird things in their normal life. how do we know that he's just weirgu >> reporter: and then a few days later gurule's investigation turned up more surveillance video, which seemed to tell a whole new story because there was kenia with another man entirely. this caught the two of them in the lobby of an apartment building near the club where kenia had been drinking. was she going up to his place? well, if she was, she didn't stay long because a few minutes later kenia showed up in yet another surveillance video, weaving somewhat unsteadily across the lobby of a nearby hotel. and the way kenia was acting caught the attention of d.a. kerri lombardi. >> i think that from all the surveillance she was very obviously intoxicated. it was scary. she was someone that you would look at and think this is a victim waiting to happen.
epte this according to family and good friends was not like kenia. she didn't drink to excess. she would never run off with a strange guy and leave her purse and phone and keys behind. in fact, when tony saw this video, he was convinced. kenia wasn't drunk. something was done to her. >> i absolutely believe 100% that she was slipped a date rape drug because everything that she did in that club that night was against anything that she's ever done before. >> reporter: gurule tracked down the young man from the apartment lobby, and he admitted dancing with kenia at the club and showing her his loft. but she left right away, he said. the video confirmed it. he was cleared. so that left only two possible suspects -- the mysterious man at the gas station and travis forbes. >> i did not. >> reporter: and apparently, travis was feeling the heat. >> i've -- man. >> reporter: so out of the blue
he decided to go public. >> you know, the truth is all we have. >> reporter: he went on camera with a denver tv station. >> i mean, it's been two weeks. nobody's heard from her. there's been no trace of her. like it's -- it's surreal. i don't even know what to think of it. >> since you're a person of interest, let me ask you this. did you do something with her? >> no. >> did you kidnap her? >> no. >> did you sexually assault her? >> i did not. >> did you murder her? >> i did not. no. no. and you know, having that on you, you know, having that energy on you is very stressful. >> reporter: detective gurule was watching this, of course. but he focused as much on travis's actions as his answers. >> he lied. it was in his demeanor. it was in his body language. it was -- it was all there.
>> man. i'm sorry that i -- that i was indifferent. that i didn't think anything. i didn't think anything. i didn't think she was going to disappear. >> when the reporter asked him -- >> did you murder her? >> i did not. no. >> he says "no." >> reporter: then as the interview was wrapping up, travis, who seemed to remember every little detail that night, had trouble recalling one small but rather critical fact. >> um. what's her name? >> kenia. >> kenia. yeah. >> and we were all watching. and we lost it. that was the only name in town. and i wanted to go talk to him about that interview. that was another time when she got down on her hands and knees and begged me not to go. and this time i didn't go. >> reporter: so tony and his family waited.
let the investigation run its course, hoping, praying that kenia would walk in the front door safe and sound. and travis forbes remained free. not even aware, quite possibly, of what the detective and the d.a. were up to. >> we had a lot of conversations, and we did a lot of warrants. you know, we were poring through phone records and you know, they continued to interview people constantly. we just were waiting for the one thing, something we could arrest him with. >> reporter: but even if they could arrest travis, first they had to find him. because not long after that tv interview travis forbes disappeared. >> coming up -- travis gone. >> i put out a teletype saying you find any bodies, give me a call. >> and then -- another surprise. >> my lieutenant said, grab your search warrant for his dna. so i hop a plane that night.
welcome back. travis forbes was the main person of interest in the disappearance of kenyan moan head. during a bizarre tv interview he proclaimed his innocence, but investigators felt his body language told a different story. as they were closing in, travis vanished. now, detectives were determined to find him. but where to even start looking? here again is keith morrison. >> he was the boogeyman and that's what we called him. everybody looking over their shoulders, who's behind them? they were afraid of him as long as he was on the street. >> boogeyman was travis forbes.
the last person known to have seen kenya monhay alive before she disappeared. the man whose strange behavior had ramped up detective's suspicions even though the evidence did not warrant an arrest. weeks after kenya vanished, the detective had two two problems, kenya wasn't the only one missing, so was travis. >> he was gone, i couldn't find him anywhere. i was scrambling to find him. i was checking news, i would put out a teletype online with law enforcement, saying you know, you find any bodies, give me a call. >> this guy was that dangerous in your mind? >> i was calling everybody. i wanted to find out where he was. >> days passed. then a week, no sign of travis, detective guerlet was working the case almost 24/7. even his wife was involved. >> there was nights where i
would jump out of bed. it would scare her. i would jump out of bed, grab the phone. she said did you hear the phone? and i said i'm leaving a message. kenya's name or travis' name. you're dreaming about this. >> you're obsessed. >> tenacious. >> kenya's family wasn't sleeping much, either. >> i thought she might have been kidnapped and put in the basement and they weren't letting her get any contact with anyone. i had dreams and things i still felt like i had that sister connection that she was just still here somewhere, needing me to come help her. to just save her and bring her back home. >> were you thinking about it all the time? >> yeah, it's hard going from talking to someone every day and not being able to talk to them any more. and like it breaks your heart. >> kenya's father, tony, made
himself a public fixture on local media. but privately, he conducted his own very lonely investigation. >> i went dumpster diving. i was looking in trash cans for her body. up and down the alleys all over. >> and yet, you couldn't tell maria. >> i couldn't tell her, i could not share what i was feeling. because that early in, would have removed the only thing that right now everybody had. and that one thing that everybody had was hope. >> i was hoping that she would pop up and say, here i am. but as time went by, and she wasn't contacting anybody, and i knew it was bad. >> he also knew that the key to finding kenya was finding travis forbes. the denver police had no idea where travis was.
whether he was in hiding here in town or had left the city. left the state. left the country. he was just gone. it wasn't much they could do. he was a person of interest. but not officially a suspect. and then two weeks later, out of the blue, detectives got a call from austin, texas. >> and my lieutenant walked into the office and said, okay, i said what, she said, austin pd just called our fugitive unit we might have him in austin, texas. i'm like, what? >> travis had turned out had borrowed a car from an old girlfriend in colorado. when he didn't return it, she went to the police and filed a report. which more often than not would have led nowhere at all, except a policeman in austin with a little time on his hands decided to check up on an out of state license plate he just happened to notice. and discovered first the report for the missing car and then
travis forbes. >> so my lieutenant said, grab your search warrant for his dna. and head to texas. so i hopped a plane that night. >> a few hours later -- guerlet was face to face with travis forbes again. >> you know what, they send me to texas because they think you're running to mexico. >> i don't give a about mexico. >> he would call me nash, i would call him travis. it was similar to you and i just talking. i wasn't confrontational with him. if he asked me a question, i gave hin an honest answer. >> you didn't just fly out here to ask me questions. >> did you do anything to her? >> no. >> did you hert her? >> no. we never touched. >> at all? >> not even a hug. and i usually hug people. >> guerle questioned him for
more than three hours, but travis stuck to his original story. >> i think -- >> did she have sex with you? >> nash i think at this point i -- my lawyer should be present. >> so travis refused to talk any more. but he didn't have a choice about providing his dna. thanks to that warrant detective guerle brought from colorado. and though a stolen car charge seemed hardly enough to warrant extradition, it was in the end, just enough. and a few weeks later travis was back in a colorado jail. >> i don't want him in texas. i wanted him here. i wanted to have access to him. >> where can you continue the conversation. >> absolutely. >> but detective guerle was in for a big surprise. slippery guy, that travis forbes. coming up -- the story moves on to another chapter, a
paid off. and he was able to get him extradited back to a colorado jail, but the smooth talker wouldn't stay there long. here again is keith morrison. >> reporter: travis forbes was right where they wanted him, behind bars. they were holding him on suspicion of stealing a friend's car, not for kenia monge's disappearance. but at least he was here, back in colorado. >> getting him back, how important was that to you? >> very important. i wanted to know where he was. >> and you wanted him in your town. >> yes. >> reporter: detective nash gurule was hoping to coax travis to tell the real story of what happened to 19-year-old kenia monge. by this time kenia had been missing for several weeks. >> he was the person. we had eliminated pretty much everybody else. >> reporter: but just as detective gurule was closing in on travis, as he geared up to pry out a confession, or at least evidence sufficient to lay a charge, he got a nasty little
surprise. >> his friend dropped the charges on the stolen car. she was very adamant that he didn't do anything wrong. >> why did that happen? >> i would talk to her sometimes daily, and she was his biggest supporter. >> she wouldn't believe that he was a dangerous guy. >> absolutely not. not the travis forbes she knows. there is no way that he did anything to kenia. >> but here was the problem. without the stolen car charge there was no way to keep travis in jail. they had to let him go. deputy d.a. kerri lombardi was -- >> nervous. i mean, i was really worried about what he would do. it was very stressful because i really wanted to be able to find her and we really wanted to get some evidence that we could hold him on. >> reporter: at least, vowed detective gurule, they would not lose him. not again. >> we put surveillance on him for a couple days. and he went up to that area in
keenesburg. >> reporter: keenesburg. that little farm town an hour east of denver. >> he used his credit card. and i had his bank records. so i saw that he swiped it at this gas station. so we went up there and got the surveillance tape, and that's him trying to get gas. >> reporter: this was not travis's first trip to keenesburg. remember, he was tracked here soon after kenia disappeared. so what was he doing here? had he brought kenia out here? was there a body hidden somewhere on the high plains? detectives scoured the fields again and found nothing. and then gurule discovered travis was on the move again. this time he headed north, 60 miles up the highway to his home town. a team of undercover cops on his tail. >> we found out he was going to go to fort collins and stay with his dad. fort collins is a college town, and it has a lot of young women there, and they like to party. yeah, i was worried.
>> reporter: it was now july 1st, exactly three months since kenia disappeared, and gurule had good reason to worry. >> our detectives are watching. he goes out to the bar district in fort collins, and he's acting like a fool. jumping on people's cars, you know, raising -- just trying to get a lot of attention. >> reporter: so fort collins police, unaware that travis was the subject of a denver investigation, pulled him aside there in the bar district, had a little talk with him, nothing serious, no charges, just conversation. >> after they finished the contact with him, our detectives go up and say hey, we're watching him, he's a person of interest on our case, you might have heard of the case, explained the case to them. they're like, okay, okay, i'll let everybody know. >> reporter: denver police kept an eye on travis, hoping he might lead them to kenia's body. but he stayed in fort collins, crashed at his grandparents'
place, and so from an already overstretched police department a decision. >> he was pretty much keeping a low profile. so we pull our surveillance. >> reporter: they couldn't know, of course. couldn't know what was coming. 4th of july. fireworks lit up the fort collins sky. and then early the next morning at an apartment complex a fire of a different sort altogether. >> we've kicked -- we just kicked the door in, we're screaming for somebody. the upstairs is -- we're just calling for somebody to see if there's somebody in the apartment. >> reporter: oh, yes. there was someone in that building. and this much we can tell you. that someone is not travis forbes. "chilling connections" returns after the break.
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predawn, july 5th, 2011. the fire in the apartment building was visible blocks away. >> it was a really hot fire. and all of the handles and the closet doors were basically melted because the fire was so hot. >> reporter: fort collins, colorado police detective jaclyn shaklee drove over to investigate. >> when i got there, there was a burned building and several fire trucks and a lot of people working. lydia was actually gone from the scene. >> reporter: lydia was lydia
tillman, 30 years old, a well-traveled wine company representative. the lone occupant of the burned apartment. and now barely alive. >> she had been beaten severely and had jumped out the second-story window to escape the fire. the crew got there, they found her in the back yard, and she stood up and ran straight to the ambulance and got in the back. >> looking awful. >> looking awful. she had been beaten severely, and she didn't have any clothes on. >> reporter: lydia, as paramedics discovered, had also been raped. but that wasn't all that happened. glenn once she got to the hospital, she suffered a massive stroke. it was because of her injuries that she suffered the stroke. she was severely beaten. she was stomped. some of her injuries were indicative of like a high-speed car crash. >> reporter: lydia was airlifted to an intensive care hospital in denver. her sister esther got the news and rushed to the hospital. >> she was unrecognizable when i saw her. i couldn't believe it was her. i would look at her, and nothing looked like her. she has a tattoo on her calf. i knew it was her.
>> reporter: lydia's condition was critical. quite possibly, even probably terminal. the doctors induced a coma, an attempt to keep her alive, stabilize her, treat her horrendous injuries. >> her jaw was crushed, and her eye sockets. and her wrist was broken, shattered. and then she had broken ribs. probably more than we even know. >> what's the emotion that comes with that? >> i didn't want to lose my sister. i wanted her in my life. what did we need to do to help her, to get her back to us? >> reporter: lydia was single, attractive, very popular. but now here she was raped and beaten. nearly burned to death in her own home. >> when somebody is beaten that severely it just sounds very personal. so we thought for sure it was somebody in her inner circle that was close, it had to be somebody she knew. >> reporter: the next two days
detective shaklee combed fort collins checking with anybody who knew lydia. >> we had talked to ex-boy friends. we had talked to who she had dated, we had talked to who she worked with, her families, and crickets were chirping. >> crickets were chirping? >> crickets were chirping. it was a whodunit. everyone loved her and said there's nobody that would do this to her, we can't imagine this would happen. >> reporter: the crime scene offered very few clues. >> it was so destroyed from the fire, especially where the actual assault and sexual assault took place in her bedroom. it was so burned. you could basically make out where the bed was. >> reporter: fingerprints, footprints, any forensic evidence, all up in smoke. or destroyed by something else discovered in the apartment. >> he did a really good job of cleaning up. and he did quite the job with the bleach. >> reporter: bleach. the apartment still smelled of it despite all the smoke. but in spite of all that bleach, they did find microscopic evidence that the attacker left behind. his dna.
>> and the majority of that dna was under lydia's fingernails. so no doubt she put up a fight. >> she was trying to defend herself. >> yeah. >> reporter: now lydia was continuing that fight. odds not good. >> she was not out of the woods is what the doctor kept telling us. every day i would ask him, are we out of the woods yet? no, we're not out of the woods yet. and out of the woods is life or death. the hardest thing is not knowing whether she was going to live or die and if she was going to live what kind of life was she going to have. >> reporter: and then three days after the attack, still no suspect, no leads, detective shaklee heard about the man police talked to just a few days before lydia's attack. the one who was acting up in the fort collins bar district. and wasn't that the man that denver police had under surveillance? >> this possibly could be related. he's wanted for murder and he's in fort collins. i don't know, it could be a long shot, but they may want to know
about it. >> what did you think when you heard that? >> i thought thank goodness, we have something that we can maybe look into. >> reporter: so long shot, she figured, but detective shaklee called detective gurule in denver. >> so i laid out what had happened, some of the evidence that we had found. >> he set the place on fire and he used bleach on her, around the house. >> and he was silent on the other end of the phone. and then finally he said, oh, my god. >> and she said, what do you think? i said i think it's him. >> i get chills now talking about it because it was quite the moment. >> who was travis forbes? a serial offender hunting women? was he hunting another even now? the two detectives were convinced of it. but as badly as they wanted to lock him away, they just did not have sufficient evidence. so travis was a free man, roaming fort collins at will, and at night. "chilling connections" returns after the break.
detectives assumed that the fire was set to obliterate key evidence. but detectives that discovered that the flames did not destroy everything. here again is keith morrison. on the fourth floor of the denver critical care hospital lydia tillman was still alive, if barely. still in a medically induced coma. still suffering god knew what damage from her massive stroke. but all the while her family sat by her side and talked to her. >> we'd say, lydia, you're doing great, you're healing, you just rest and heal, that's all you have to do. we'd play classical music for her. we'd talk over her so she knew we were there. we just wanted that ever presence for her. >> do you think she was aware of any of that? >> i think deep inside she knew that her family was fighting for her. >> reporter: as if worrying about lydia's fragile condition wasn't enough, her family also feared the attack wasn't over. >> it was really scary. since we didn't know who had done this, i kept looking out of the hospital room and seeing if
someone would come to finish the job. and so we had to keep her completely anonymous in the hospital. we had a code that we had to say to go see her. only family members and only ones that were listed. >> you were always kind of looking over your shoulder. >> definitely. >> reporter: lydia's family was quite unaware that police did have a prime suspect, travis forbes, who was also a suspect in the disappearance of a girl lydia's family had never heard of, kenia monge. >> the similarities were definitely the bleach. i don't know what it is about forbes, but he has an obsession with bleach, and we'd actually heard that from his past girlfriends as well, that he would obsessively clean his house with bleach. and there was bleach used in kenia's case as well. the fact they were both dark-haired, both pretty girls, around the same age, it was chillingly similar. >> reporter: but the truly frightening fact was that their suspect was still out there somewhere on the street at large, potentially targeting his next victim, and it would stay that way unless detectives could
prove that the attacks were both the work of travis forbes. there was one possibility and really only one. sitting at the denver police crime lab were several swabs of travis's dna, which detective nash gurule had obtained when the two talked in texas. >> we needed that obviously quickly to compare it to what had been collected from lydia tillman when she was transported to the hospital. >> but she'd been sprayed with bleach and every -- and she'd been burned. i mean, was there actually any dna left? >> there actually was. it was pretty amazing. it's amazing how resilient dna is. >> reporter: so on a friday evening just four days after lydia's attack the dna found under her fingernail and the sample taken from forbes were taken to the colorado bureau of investigation for processing to see if they matched. >> i didn't sleep. i couldn't sleep. there was no way. it didn't really matter. i didn't care. and it was amazing because we had technicians at colorado
bureau of investigation who had no necessary buy-in into this was but they were working around the clock as well because they knew what a big deal this was. >> reporter: 60 miles away in denver detective nash gurule was also awaiting those dna results, anxiously. but he was also angry. >> at myself. >> at yourself? why? >> thinking to myself, what else could i have done to prevent this? >> what other evidence could i have gathered that would have got him arrested? >> did i miss something that could have kept him there? i could have had something concrete to arrest him on. what did i miss? and i threw that around in my head. >> you take this stuff personally. >> this one i did. and i'm thinking to myself, is he that smart? is he that smart? >> reporter: and now forbes was out here, somewhere. friday night, dark now. it was warm in fort collins. a college town, remember. in the old town bar district
young people gathered around favorite watering holes. plenty of young women, carefree, drinking, celebrating a weekend, unaware. and worried. but this time the police were watching because they were very worried. >> we had the surveillance set up on him over the weekend. we were not going to let him out of our sights. so we had teams that were rotating while we were waiting so we could actually make an arrest. >> reporter: all weekend surveillance teams followed forbes as he cruised the nightclub district. >> he had a bottle of whiskey he'd been carrying around with him all night. he didn't go into any of the bars. he basically just walked around and -- >> he was trolling. >> trolling. yeah. that's a good way to put it. >> reporter: late at night the undercover cops spotted travis following a young woman walking home alone. so without revealing the surveillance team one of the cops approached him, and travis gave him a fake name, called him travis kennedy. the officer let him go. but travis did not go home. and before very long began following a second woman. she appeared to be drunk.
travis closed in. >> they're like, this guy's too much of a danger, we've got to figure out a way to get him off the street. so they ended up arresting him for false reporting, for giving a false name. >> reporter: in fact detective shaklee's husband was part of that surveillance team and actually put the cuffs on travis. >> what was it like when you two kind of got together to compare notes? >> it was pretty emotional. and it was actually an emotional phone call. he called me to let me know that -- i'm going to get emotional now. that he had taken him into custody and that he was off the streets. just some closure to five days of really scary, really scary for our community and our home. >> reporter: but there was a catch. when the cops arrested forbes for giving a false name, it was only a misdemeanor. without some new charge he'd be out on bail in no time.
i'm richard lui with your hour's top stories. president trump is quote open-minded about combining funding for a border wall with other things like helping daca recipients or other immigrants in order to end a partial government shutdown ongoing according to republican senator lindsey graham who had lunch with the president this afternoon. a worker at a wildlife conservatory in north carolina has been killed by a lion that got loose from a locked space. the lion was shot and killed. for now, back to "dateline." welcome back to "dateline"-extra. i'm craig melvin. it was a race against the clock. detectives held travis forbes in jail on a misdemeanor charge while they awaited results from a dna test. believed the findings would link him to the brutal rape and assault of lydia tillman.
but travis was about to be released, and there was still no word from the lab. would the suspect be free to roam the streets yet again? with more of our story, here's keith morrison. brown brick building on the outskirts of denver is normally quiet at night and on weekends. but in mid july 2011 the colorado bureau of investigation crime lab was a beehive of activity. a team of technicians were working round the clock, comparing a dna sample of lydia tillman's attacker to that of travis forbes to see if they matched. 60 miles away in fort collins detective jaclyn shaklee couldn't sit still. >> i was high on adrenaline. it was a waiting game. i mean, i kept looking at my phone, hoping for the technician from cbi to call me. >> reporter: especially because travis forbes, who was being held in the fort collins jail, was due to be released soon. very soon. >> he was given a bond and was about to bond out like 10:30 on
monday night. >> reporter: the weekend was over. monday ticked by. >> it's a long process. it's not like a tv show where you can -- they do it in 40 minutes and you have a hit. so i knew it was going to take a while. i just kept praying that it would happen earlier. >> reporter: and then, just minutes before travis's release, a call from the cbi. >> we had a hit. >> wow. >> yes. >> reporter: the man who attacked lydia tillman was, the dna confirmed, travis forbes. >> it was the biggest adrenaline dump ever. and of course i called detective gurule in tears. we did it. he's charged. he's in jail. he's not getting out. >> i was relieved that now he's going to be in jail and he won't be able to hurt nobody. now we know where he's at, so i don't have to be searching for him. >> reporter: word of travis's arrest also traveled quickly to kenia monge's family. >> i was shocked.
i knew that he would eventually hang himself. but i didn't think he'd go out and try to murder again this soon. and i was shocked. we were shocked. >> yeah. >> reporter: but they still didn't know what happened to kenia. quickly, the lee family called a news conference and delivered a message to travis forbes. >> anybody's going to relay any messages to him, tell him, or if you guys talk to him, tell him we've got just one question. where is kenia? that's it. >> reporter: but travis wasn't talking anymore. so lee offered a radical idea. >> i called assistant d.a. lombardi, and i said make a deal. >> you wanted a deal? >> yeah. i don't care what it is. i said i don't care. you could take it down to manslaughter. i didn't care. just make a deal. let's just -- we just want kenia. >> we really couldn't -- i mean, we were getting there.
we were still investigating. what i really wanted was for -- tell us where she was. so we could give closure to this family. >> reporter: but travis was now facing an attempted murder charge for the assault on lydia. and as his case started working its way toward trial, he sat silently, mute in his cell. especially when detective shaklee paid him a visit. >> he was looking at me like a caged animal. his eyes were huge. he -- it was really creepy. obviously, i wanted to talk to him. i wanted to get an interview with him and see if he would tell me something. and he immediately said, i'm not talking to you, get -- get out of here. >> reporter: but across town someone was communicating. after spending five weeks in icu lydia tillman was transferred to a local rehab hospital. a long, slow recovery began. >> hi, lydia. >> i showed her a video of my kids saying hello to her because they missed their aunt lydia. >> i want you to get better soon.
>> and she got to the part where my 4-year-old started to talk. and she laughed and said hi, lydia. >> hi, lydia. >> it was the first time i got to see her laugh, and i went, she's got memory, she can laugh. >> reporter: but detective gurule's murder case against travis forbes and his search for kenia monge had both stalled, nearly five months after kenia vanished and still no sign of her. but one day he got a call from the crime lab, requesting another dna sample of travis for the fbi. >> i drove up there to get his dna. i walked in, laid down my recorder. he didn't want to talk to any of the detectives, in fort collins, anywhere. but he always talked to me. >> what's up, nash? why are you here? >> i am here because i have a warrant for you. >> reporter: for the next two hours, like a couple of old college chums, the two shot the
breeze about philosophy and books and religion and of course kenia's case, about which travis remained evasive. >> i said, i've been here a long time, travis, i'm done. i'm done playing chess with you. you move one way, i move another way. i said i'm coming for you. i'm telling you that. i said the next time you see me i'll be charging you for murder. i said what do you want out of this? what exactly do you want out of this? >> i want to go to prison without being labeled as a sex offender. >> okay. what else? >> that's it. that's it. >> you'll confess to everything if you go to prison without being labeled a sex offender? is that what you're saying? you're man enough to say that? >> yes. yes. yes. that's what i'm saying. >> reporter: detective gurule was stunned. travis wanted to cut a deal? gurule used a little reverse psychology to make sure he meant it.
>> i told him i think you're full of it, i don't think you're going to do this. i think you're going to back out. and i think you're spineless. and i think it's all about you, it's a game. i said i think you're going to pull out. he says, no, i won't. i said, travis, you do what you say you're going to do, i'll be the first one to shake your hand. >> reporter: nobody knew that fort collins authorities would buy in. so all he needed now were the crossed ts and dotted is. the legal formalities. >> i left the jail, went out to my car, and thought to myself, did i just hear this right or am i dreaming? i even played the recording back to myself. and i thought, wow. >> people just don't do that sort of thing. >> right. he's confessing to a murder
without a body and without seeing the case. i've talked to my commanders, and they said never in the history of this police department has that ever happened. ever. >> reporter: finally, after frustrating months of knuckle-biting tension, disappearances, dead-end games of cat and mouse, detective gurule was about to get the answers he'd been searching for. and he was exhausted. to celebrate and rest up gurule decided to take a few days off with his wife. >> so we're driving out of town. i get a call and they say he pulled out. "chilling connections" returns after the break.
i hung up the phone. my wife looked at me. and she says, you okay? and i looked at her, and i'm crying. i said, there's nothing more i could do. i got him there. i led him there. i led him to the trough. >> reporter: gurule and his wife went on their trip anyway, and for three long days he was left twisting in the wind once again by travis forbes. kenia's family knew nothing of this, still holding out hope that she was somehow alive. >> every time i was driving down the street and i seen a skinny little black-haired girl, i can't tell you how many accidents i've almost had trying to get around the corner to see who this little skinny black-haired girl is. there was still reports coming in of sightings of her. and you've got to turn in all these sightings because you don't know. >> reporter: but then something
happened to travis forbes that weekend. he apparently had second thoughts about his own second thoughts. >> and when i got back on monday, i got a call and they said the deal's back on, it's being finalized, we should be able to be going next week. >> sometimes taking a weekend away is quite profitable. >> yes. the weight of the world just got lifted from me. >> the deal with travis was quite straightforward. no death penalty, no sex crimes charges. and no exchange he would give them a complete confession. what he did to kenia and lydia. and one more thing. he would show them exactly where kenia was. and so on a humid morning in september 2011 forbes found himself in a procession of police cars on a country road northeast of denver. investigators had been here many times before, searching the fields near the farm town of keenesburg looking for kenia. but this day travis had solemnly
promised he was going to show them. trailing a car behind travis was d.a. kerri lombardi, nervous, anxious, and pessimistic. >> i was worried he wouldn't follow through. because i felt like he sort of liked this game, i thought. >> so on the way what were you thinking? >> will he do this? will he not? will something spook him? will he change his mind? is this a big farce? you know, i didn't know if, you know, there was even -- if we were even going to the right place. >> reporter: travis was in the lead car, which included detectives nash gurule and jaclyn shaklee. >> it was really quiet for the first five or ten minutes. he was sitting right next to me. i had an air cast on my foot because i had a running injury. he looked down and said what did you do to your foot? i said it's a stress fracture from running. >> reporter: and that got travis talking. about running marathons, movies, food. all sorts of things. >> and obviously we were talking about whatever he wanted to talk about to keep his cooperation. i have to remember that i have a
monster sitting next to me and just playing it up. we had to get to that body. we wanted to know where she was and bring her home to her family. >> then we start getting closer, he starts getting a little more quiet. we drive out to the site. next to a little grove of trees. >> reporter: and then quite suddenly, no warning, something came over the cool and breezy travis forbes. >> he got out of the car, and his whole demeanor changed, and he let out this scream. just this blood curdling -- it made me jump. i wasn't expecting it at all. >> reporter: but just as quickly, travis pulled himself together and pointed. >> he says, she's over there. so we walk over there. and he's standing up on top of the hill, there's like a little ravine. he says, you're standing right on top of her.
>> reporter: soon the digging began. >> and it was a very, very slow process. there was an anthropologist there. and so then they finally got the dirt off of her. and there she was. and it was pretty awful. i stood there, and of course had i seen these beautiful pictures of her. there's this smiling image in your head of her having a good time and smiling. and then to see that. it was very difficult. >> reporter: there was something else perhaps even more difficult that kerri lombardi had to do. >> i called tony lee and said, you know, that they had found a body where he had told us she was, we had found something. >> and i needed to let my family know before any of this hit the news. you can't prepare yourself or practice yourself for write down a speech for that day. and i had to tell her. >> what was that like?
>> that was the hardest thing i've ever done. then i -- >> she had been hanging on to hope. >> she had been hanging on to hope. >> you had to finally -- >> i had to snatch that rug out from under her. and she lost it. and there was nothing i could do for her because i had already lost it myself. >> reporter: then tony had to tell his children. kenia's little sister and brother. >> and the first question out of both of their mouths at the different times, is she alive? and i had to tell them no. i couldn't do nothing for them. >> i just don't feel like it's fair that people get to grow up with their sisters but she was only there for a little bit of my life. like she won't be able to see like me grow up and get married or have kids, and i won't be able to see her grow up and get married and have kids. like we'll just never get to have that bond.
>> reporter: but this most horrendous of days wasn't quite over. police still needed a complete confession from forbes on tape. >> we're driving back. i look back at him. he goes, hey, nash, i told you i'd tell you where she was. he goes, are you happy you found her? he goes, are you happy? and i said there's some questions that need to be answered. and i said once those questions are -- once those questions are answered, then i'll be happy. "all right, nash. i told you i'd do it. i told you i would do it." and i said, yes, you did. >> reporter: detective gurule sat down with travis for one last interview. after five long months out came the words he needed to hear. >> i killed her. i did not mean to kill her. i didn't pull over to kill her. i didn't pull over to rape her. none of that was in my head. none of it was premeditated. >> reporter: but then it all came out.
travis told them how he spotted kenia on the street. how he raped her, how he strangled her, how he stuffed her in his cooler, drove around with the body in his white van for a whole day, then stored it in the bakery's freezer while he cleaned out his van with bleach and burned her clothes. and then early the next morning he buried her body near a clump of cottonwood trees. >> after we were done with our interview i walked up to him and stuck out my hand. i go, thanks. and he stood up, shook my hand, and he said, "i told you i would do it." i said, you did. he says, "you just wouldn't give up." and i looked at him, and i said, you're right. >> reporter: later that day travis also confessed to the attempted murder of lydia tillman. soon he would be sentenced separately for both crimes.
but there was one last surprise coming. something no one saw coming. least of all travis forbes. coming up -- a courtroom stunned. as travis awaits sentencing the courageous young woman who had beaten the odds makes a stunning move in the courtroom. coming up -- >> to do what she did and to endure what she went through, she's a superhero in my eyes. when "chilling connections" continues. -♪ he's got legs of lumber and arms of steel ♪
♪ he eats a bowl of hammers at every meal ♪ ♪ he holds your house in the palm of his hand ♪ ♪ he's your home and auto man ♪ big jim, he's got you covered ♪ ♪ great big jim, there ain't no other ♪ -so, this is covered, right? -yes, ma'am. take care of it for you right now. giddyup! hi! this is jamie. we need some help.
jtsds taking sex crime charges and the death penalty off the table, he led authorities to the ravine where he buried kenia monge's body. he later confessed to kenia's murder and to the attempted murder of lydia tillman. all that was left was the sentencing. but unbenounsed to travis, there was one more surprise in store. here with the conclusion of the story. is keith morrisson. >> reporter: she was home now. after five long horrible months. kenia monge fg given a proper burial. >> we needed her home. we needed to know a place to where we at least could go and
be with her. every day. that was either home or in a grave some place. >> thank god we have answers. now that answers exactly we want. but we do have answers now. and still hurts. >> reporter: but as one family mourned. another had something remarkable to celebrate. lydia tillman. was coming home. because of the stroke, speech was still practically impossible. but the fact she was walking at all truly amazing. some kind of miracle. said a doctor. >> i believe that lydia shouldn't have survived that day. she went through so much. and she probably shouldn't have made it. she did. it was because of her determination. and joy. >> reporter: soon after that a travis forbes sentencing
hearing. lydia met kenia's family. >> i wished it was kenia. i hate to say that. i'm glad she was able to escape the monster. overwhelming to see the amount of her strength and her will to live. and what she did during her court proceedings on the day that he was sentenced for what he did to her. >> reporter: what she did that day? a simply amazing. hard to believe. sitting just feet away from the man who raped her. smashed her face and body. doused her with bleach. set her on fire. lydia tillman struck a blow against evil. she gave travis a gift. she forgave him. since she was unable to speak her father read her statement. to forgive is easier than holding anger. >> there wasn't a dry eye in the
courtroom including the judge. it's freeing for her. i understand that. i did the same. we're not going to live in that hatred. in that state of mind that doesn't allow you to recover and heal. >> she's amazing. to do what she did and to endure what she went through. i couldn't imagine. i couldn't imagine. she is she's a super-hero in my eyes. >> reporter: there was one more surprise. not travis's sentence. life in prison. that was merely a formality. it was another gift. this time from kenia. to lydia. >> we started crying. i felt very strong inside of me. kenia was telling me mom, give her the ring. i was wearing the ring.
give it to her. >> it was kenia's favorite ring. >> i gave it to her. she was so happy. she said thank you and she was holding me. and that moment i was holding her, it's like i was holding kenia. >> we are related in tragedy. we have a connection with each other unfortunately for the rest of our lives. and because of travis. >> reporter: the family build a memorial here on the high plains where kenia was found. she continues to live in their hearts, her loss has taken a toll. in 2018 tony and maria divorced. he still spreads awareness and warnings and help. >> the story of kenia is what has created the kenia monge foundation. we go to the families of the missing. and reach out. and they are grateful.
>> lydia tillman, we saved the surprise for last. she worked very hard to recover. >> try this one. >> reporter: and. to speak. >> stimuli. >> stim -- stimuli. >> try yesterday. >> lydia rocked my world. >> reporter: dr. jill armor. >> i think lydia has the ability to make a full recovery. and i think she's tenacious. and perseveres enough that she may just well do that. >> reporter: so, a proper introduction. just ten months after the attack that nearly took her life. lydia tillman spoke in her own words. >> people were amazed you survived at all. >> yeah. i am amazed too.
>> what has been in the long recovery process, the most difficult thing to do? >> relearning how to speak. was still difficult. >> yes. >> i'm trying to find a balance between my ambitions and my still healing body and brain. >> yeah. so where were you in the process of getting better, when travis went to court? to plead guilty and be sentenced? >> i am -- was just out of
>> may i open it? >> it's acronym for my name. it says live your days inspired a new. >> reporter: which of course spells lydia. great sadness surrounding the story of travis forbes. an ending sadness for kenia's family. for the unknown other families who as many now suspect may have been victimized by his past behavior. and then, from that darkest place came the lydia. who forgave, who won. who told us live your days inspired anew.
that's all for this edition of date line extra. thank you for watching. there weren't just two women so many young women missing. only one detective to find them. >> there was always a story. >> a story to her too. she's a young woman. lucky to be alive. for a lot of people. that would be the end of police work. and families hurt. >> she says i have some bad news for you.