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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  March 30, 2013 8:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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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. by that terrifying flaw that forces us to admit, yes, virginia, there really is a boogie 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.
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it was the night before april fool's day, 2011, a warm early 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. >> among the partiers, janet gomez, one of kenia's closest friends. she loved to have fun. >> yeah, she loved to have fun. >> underage fun. no trouble sneaking in. they charmed the bouncers, flashed fake i.d.s. kenia and her crew had kind of an 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.
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we went in there and she wasn't in there. >> 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. >> 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. >> 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. you know. and she'll call tomorrow. she would always call me in the morning. >> yeah. she wouldn't take chances?
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>> no. >> this is how i look. >> no, because, show 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. 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 a happy day in my life when i held her, hold her, and tell her how much i miss her. and she said i miss you too, mom, and now we are together. nothing going to separate us.
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>> 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 as she hugged me. >> so, connecting with the family took no time at all. >> i always thought about a song from "the brady bunch," how we all came together and became a family. it was pretty much that was kind of how it worked out. it clicked from day one. and there's all the girls. all the wonderful women in my life. >> thank you, daddy! >> 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 that everybody dreams of. it was even better than what i imagined. >> better? >> mm-hmm. she was very loving and caring.
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i felt like she was my twin. we texted each other every day. every morning, every night, throughout school. she would call me sometimes. she would just want to say i love you. >> 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 or something. that was her goal in life, was to be somebody. >> she came from having nothing to being somebody, and on one of her calendars it said, 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. >> bit on the morning of april fools' 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 kenia.
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it was another girlfriend. >> she was like, are you with kenia? and i said, no, i thought she was with you. and that's when it all started. >> started? oh, it had more than started for kenia monge, swallowed up by well, whatever it was. some dark presence haunting the happy, tipsy streets of lodo. >> coming up, kenia's family starts to worry. had that dark presence, whatever it might be, come for their own daughter? >> that's when i went into high alert. >> when "deadly connection" continues. anyou're too perfect. even the inside of your dishwasher sparkles. okay. so i'm the bad guy for being clean. you said it. ladies, let's not fight dirty. cascade kitchen counselor. see, over time, finish gel can leave hard-water film on your dishes and dishwasher. new cascade platinum's triple-action formula not only cleans your dishes,
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>> april 1st, 2011. dawn in denver, colorado. bright, springlike. and for the friends of 19-year-old kenia monge, terrifying. >> i just kept calling her and calling her. we were all worried and scared. >> 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. >> kenia's friends truly frightened now kept texting and 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
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think negative or anything. we had a lot of thoughts. i don't know, maybe we shouldn't have done that. >> have done what? >> going out to -- you know, we were just 19, we were not 21. >> 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. >> 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 had been talking to kenia's worried friends. >> he was like, have you seen your sister? i was like, no. he said, have you talked to her? i was like, no. he said, well, she's missing. i was like, shut up, like, this isn't funny. tell me the truth, where is she? he was like, i'm being serious. you need to call your parents and tell them to call the police and file a missing person report. and then i called my mom. >> i called my sister and all the family and said maybe it's a
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joke. my sister got very worried and said, i don't think it's a joke. >> when i got my call from my daughter kim and she said she had not heard anything from her that day, that's when i went into high alert. >> 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 or where they were at, because they were covering their asses. >> 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, her phone, her i.d. and all that stuff in the bar. >> -- her stuff. kenia never went anywhere without it, especially her cell phone. and she certainly wouldn't just leave it with two people she
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hardly knew. >> something was very wrong. something was wrong. >> the night after kenia was last seen here in lodo, one of the girls she was drinking with showed up at the lees ahouse to drop off her belongings. kenia was happily dancing until about 1:00 in the morning with some guy, she said, 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. >> i was looking through her text messages from the day before, and these conversations she was having with her friends, about this is where we'll hook up at. >> 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. hey, where you at? you being good?
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hey, you're not contacting me. >> the next morning the texts continued from kenia's friends, all asking where was she. >> then there was a dead area. and the next text that came in was about 7:00 p.m. that night. >> but this one? this one jumped off the screen was just plain weird. >> the message said, hey, this is travis, the guy with the creepy white bear and smiley face. did you get home okay? >> travis? who was travis? nobody in kenia's circle of friends had heard of anybody named travis. >> i kept calling him. i kept leaving these messages. >> 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 like chickens with
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our heads cut off. and we didn't know what to do first. so we're just trying to figure out what do we got to do. >> 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 grabbed a 9 millimeter pistol, i packed it in my waist, and i told her, i'm on my way to meet this guy. >> when "dateline" continues. we never plan on a full house.
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>> ♪ >> kenia and kimberly. as close as two sisters could be. always together, always talking, texting, facebooking. at first when the messages suddenly stopped -- >> i didn't really take it seriously. like i didn't really think she was going to be gone that long. >> but after 48 long hours -- what's that like, that feeling? >> the feeling of being, like, desperate to know where your sister is because that was not only my best friend. that was my sister, that was my other half. like that was everything to me. >> and then that second night after kenia vanished there was this call, from a total stranger, named travis.
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>> hello? travis called me back about 8:00 p.m. >> the guy who left that rather odd text message on kenia's phone to see if she'd gotten home safely from the nightclub. >> he told me the story. yeah, 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, so i said, well, i better help her. so she got in my van. >> travis told kenia's dad that as he was driving her home, she asked to stop at a gas station for cigarettes. but there something strange happened. she met another guy who said he would take her home. and so, said travis, he left them there. >> that's the last he saw her. >> that's what he said, that's the last he saw 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. >> 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
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missing long enough. >> i'm pissed. i'm sitting there saying, i can't believe this. i took matters into my own hands. i called travis back and i said, travis, i got some questions i want to ask you. tell me again where you last saw her at. he said, 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 said oh, my god. >> i grabbed a .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 got to go. they're not going to do anything. i got to go. >> i got the phone and i called 911. >> tony roared over to that conoco station, nerves on edge, gun close to hand expecting, what? a violent confrontation?
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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, he looks like a decent enough guy if you have somebody to pick up your kid and help them out, you know. >> seemed like a nice guy. >> yeah. >> 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 officer, man, everything he told you just don't sound right. it just don't sound right. >> it didn't sound right to the cops, either. but they had nothing to hold travis on. he had been cooperative, forthcoming, concerned for
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kenia, so they let him go. as the meeting wrapped up, travis sidled up to tony and started talking. he was crying. he's telling me, i promised i'd take care of her. i wished i could have followed through on what i done. i feel responsible for this, you know, i wish i could have done more. >> travis seemed sincere. his story, though strange, was consistent. maybe he was telling the truth. and that man kenia met at a gas station had abducted her. >> i stuck out my hand and said, i appreciate it. we shook hands. when i shook his hand it was as if an earthquake was going on in his feet. it was only in my hand that i could feel it. his arm wasn't shaking, his body wasn't shaking, there was no quivering, but i felt that shake. i looked at him and i knew that i was shaking the hand of the last person that seen kenia alive. there was no doubt in my mind. i knew it at that instant. >> and you believed as of that moment that she was dead? >> yes. >> coming up, was he right? they were about to come across a
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disturbing clue. >> he was determined to erase something. >> everything. everything. >> when "deadly connection" continues. we're at walmart with lindsey who checks all the weekly ads to get the best sale prices. let me ask you, do you think you can get the same great prices here with walmart's low price guarantee? let's try! let's go. i've got a full house to impress. well, you better ham it up! look at this price! [ laughs ] that's awesome! what's for easter desert? oh, sugar cookies! my son's helping this year. look at that! hey! there's my brand. that's your ad. walmart will match that price at the register. really? yeah! you don't even have to have the ad with you. what?! i'm serious. nice! that's the walmart low price guarantee backed by ad match! bring your last grocery receipt to walmart, compare the prices. you'll see for yourself! that's the walmart low price guarantee backed by ad match! it's it's a soft kiss,a gloss, it's all in one! l'oreal creates caresse wet shine stain our totally new kind of lipcolor
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kenia monge was in a denver downtown nightclub with her friends one week ago. >> kenia monge's disappearance was big news in denver. >> she was last seen wearing a black skirt, black jacket and red high-heeled shoes. >> kenia's family was frantic, desperately hoping she was still alive. >> i couldn't sleep. i prayed. i get on my knees every day, god, please, bring kenia home, please. >> 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. she was our best friend. >> and got nowhere. >> we had to be strong and just pray for the best. >> but by now, family and
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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. >> also assigned to the case was deputy d.a. kerry lombardi. >> we had to do something. time was sort of of the essence because they were still hoping she was alive. >> they focused first, of course, on the good samaritan, the guy who'd given kenia a raid, travis ford. he was 31, think discovered, had a rap sheet for theft and drugs but now he owned a small
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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. >> travis could bake but he wasn't the best businessman. he often was in debt, sometimes missed deliveries and deadlines. one day he came to work and 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. >> 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. >> detectives looked around, even shot this video of the
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place, but they didn't find much. travis was there, so they took him downtown for questioning. >> travis, this is detective gurule. >> he's a talker. >> very, very charming, very manipulative. >> i never met her before then. >> 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 would take her home. >> she put her arm through his arm like while they were sitting there smoking. and they spoke spanish. and they walked off, and that's it. that was the last -- that was it. then i went home. >> that's the last you see her? >> yes. >> travis was cool, calm, even contrite about leaving kenia with that strange fellow at the gas station.
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>> if she had made the choice to go back home or to get back 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 walking home with that guy, i would -- i would have done something. >> he's really worried about this whole investigation, about this missing girl. but we believe him. he didn't do anything. >> 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 had gone to his girlfriend's house. at the time that we knew she had disappeared. and then his girlfriend came in, but she supported his statement. >> 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 sent out bulletins, we put it on the news, and we didn't get anybody to come forward and say, yeah.
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i know this guy. >> but d.a. lombardi did get a search warrant for travis' 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, the roof, and you spray it so much it drips down, that's how much bleach he 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. >> 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. >> what did that tell you? >> that he had been on a dirt road. at least, that van had.
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>> so gurule and lombardi pored through travis' cell phone records to see where he was around the time of kenia's disappearance. and they noticed he made and received several calls from a rural area near a little place called keanesburg, 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 in 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. >> 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. >> when "dateline" continues.
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the trouble started before kenia monge went missing. trouble at this denver bakery, that is. the one for 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 and then gradually became sure there was a thief in the shop. fortunately, monica had allowed for the possibility of that sort of the 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
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wound it back to the place to see who had unplugged it. >> 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 yellow, go all the way up to your elbows. i thought, what in the world is he wearing those for? >> monica stopped the tape and called the cops who took a good look at the 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,
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and there's employees walking around. >> detective gurule consulted monica. >> the police asked me, did he store the cooler in the freezer? 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. >> 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 burned 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? >> 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. >> but nothing turned up.
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if there were any clues in that barrel, they had been burned. travis forbes, despite all of 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 not just a weird guy? >> 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. the way kenia was acting caught the attention of d.a. kerry lombardi.
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>> i think from all the evidence, she was obviously very intoxicated. it was scary. she was someone you would look at and think, this was a victim waiting to happen. >> 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. >> 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.
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and, apparently, travis was feeling the heat. >> i -- man. >> so out of the blue, he decided to go public. >> you know, the truth is all we have. >> 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? i -- 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 merder her? >> i did not. no. no. and, you know, having that on you, having that energy on you is, is very stressful. >> detective gurule was watching this, of course, but he focused as much on travis' answers as his actions. >> he lied.
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it was in his demeanor, it was in his body language. it was -- it was all there. >> man. i'm sorry that i was indifferent, that i didn't think anything. i didn't think anything. i didn't think she would -- she was going to disappear. >> when the reporter asked him -- >> did you murder her? >> i did not, no. >> he says, no. >> then as the interview was wrapping up, travis seemed to remember every little detail of that night. had trouble recalling one small but rather critical fact. >> what's her name? >> kenia. >> kenia, yeah. >> 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
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this time i didn't go. >> 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, at what the detective and the d.a. were up to. >> we had a lot of conversations and we did a lot of warrants. we were poring through phone records, and they continued to interview people constantly, and we just were waiting for the one thing, something we could arrest him with. >> 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, if you find any bodies, give me a call.
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>> and then another surprise. >> my lieutenant said grab your search warrant for his dna. so i hop a plane that night. >> when "deadly connection" continues. oh ho ! here i am not checking emails ! ahhhhh ! look, i'm not cleaning the grass ! or mowing the gutters ! i'm not... ehhh... taking conference calls ! definitely not making spreadsheets. less couchy, more beachy ! this was me. then i found dr. scholl's pain relief orthotics. they reduce the impact on my lower body. so i feel less pain and more energized. dr. scholl's pain relief orthotics-- pain relief that starts with your feet. i'm a believer. i'm spending the evening with your boss's wife so this is the highlight of my night.
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he was the boogie man, and that's what we called him.
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everybody was looking over their shoulders, looking who's behind them, looking -- they were afraid of him as long as he was on the street. >> the boogie man was travis forbes. the last person known to have seen kenia monge alive before she disappeared. the man whose strange behavior had ramped up detective gurule's suspiciouses, even though it did not warrant an arrest. a week after kenia vanished, detective had two problems. kenia 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 on line for law enforcement saying, you find any bodies, give me a call. >> this guy was that dangerous in your mind? that it could be more -- >> i was calling everybody. i wanted to find out where he was. >> days passed and a week. no sign of travis. detective gurule was now working
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the case almost 24/7. even his wife was involved. >> there were nights where i would jump out of bed and it would scare her because i would jump out of bed and grab the phone and she would say, did you hear the phone ring? and i said, no, i'm leaving myself a message because i need to do this. >> oh, yeah, right. >> she said, you talk in your sleep about it. kenia's name or even travis' name. she said you're dreaming about this. you're obsessed. tense ashs. >> kenia's family wasn't sleeping much, either. >> i thought that she might have been like kidnapped and like put in a basement and like they weren't letting her get any contact with anyone. i had dreams and things. i felt like i still had that sister connection that she was here somewhere needing my like, needing me to come help her and to save her and just bring her back home. >> were you thinking about it all the time? >> yeah. it's hard from going to talking to someone every day and then not being able to talk to them
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anymore. it, like, breaks your heart. >> something is seriously wrong here. >> kenia'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. >> 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 -- i
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knew it was bad. >> he also knew that the key to finding kenia 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. there 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. and i said what? she said, austin pd just called our fugitives unit. we might have him in austin, texas. i'm like, what? >> travis, it turned out, had borrowed a carl from an old girlfriend in colorado. when he didn't return it, she went to police and filed a report. which more often than not would have led nowhere at all, except a policeman in austin with a
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little time on his hands decided to check up on an out-of-state license plate he'd just happened to notice and discovered, first the reports of the missing car, and then, travis forbes. >> so my lieutenant said, grab your search warrant for his dna and head to texas. so i hop a plane that night. >> a few hours later, gurule was face to face with travis forbes again. >> -- in mexico. >> and you -- >> he would call me nash, i would call him trav. it was similar to you and i just talking. i wasn't confrontational with him. if he asked me a question, i gave him an honest answer. >> i didn't fly all the way out here -- >> actually, i did. did you do anything to her? >> no. >> did you hurt her?
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>> no. we never touched. >> at all? >> -- >> gurule questioned him for more than three hours, but travis stuck to his original story. >> so did she have sex with you? >> nash, at this point, i'm -- i -- >> so travis refused to talk anymore, but he didn't have a choice about providing his dna, thanks to that warrant detective gurule 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 didn't want him in texas, i wanted him here. i wanted to have access to him. >> where you can continue the conversation. >> absolutely. >> but detective gurule was in
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for a big surprise. slippery guy, that travis forbes. >> coming up, the story moves on to another chapter, a different city and another young woman. >> fort collins is a college town and it has a lot of young women there, and they like to party. >> when "dateline" continues. ♪ ♪ ♪
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continuing now with our story.
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a pretty young woman has gone missing from a girls' night out in denver. detectives think they know who is responsible, a smooth-talking local named travis forbes. after months of trying, they finally got him in custody and are hoping he'll tell them what really happened. instead, they're about to have reason to worry about the young women of another city. again, keith morrison. >> 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. >> detective nash gurule was hoping to coax travis to tell him the real story of what happened to 19-year-old kenia monge. by this time, kenia had been missing for several weeks.
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>> he was the person. we had eliminated pretty much everybody else. >> 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. kerry lombardi was -- >> nervous. 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
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him on. >> the police vowed to detective gurule that 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. >> 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 it's him trying to get gas. >> this was not travis' 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
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hometown, a team of undercover cops on his tail. >> we found out he was going to go to fort collins to 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. >> 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. >> so fort collins police, unaware that travis was the subject of a denver investigation, pulled him aside there in the bar district and had a little talk with him. nothing serious, no charges. just conversation. >> after they finished 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
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them. they're like, okay, okay. i'll let everybody know. >> denver police kept an eye on travis, hoping he might lead them to kenia's body. but he stayed at 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. >> they couldn't know, of course, couldn't know what was coming. fourth 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 and we're screaming for somebody. the upstairs is -- we're just calling for somebody to see if there's somebody in the apartment. >> oh, yes, there was someone in that building. and this much we can tell you. that someone was not travis forbes.
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>> coming up, who was it? and was there any link to kenia? >> finally he said, oh, my god. i get chills now talking about it because it was quite the moment. >> investigators about to piece together a deadly connection. that bundling thing? let's see what you got. rv -- covered. why would you pay for a hotel? i never do. motorcycles -- check. atv. i ride those. do you? no. boat. house. hello, dear. hello. hello. oh! check it -- [ loud r&b on car radio ] i'm going on break! the more you bundle, the more you save. now, that's progressive. i found our colors. we've made a decision. great, let's go get you set up... you should check out our workshops... push your color boundaries while staying well within your budget walls.
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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 melted because the fire was so hot. >> fort collins, colorado police detective jacqueline shackley 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. >> 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. crew got there. they found her in the backyard. she stood up and ran straight to the ambulance and got in the back. >> looking awful. >> looking awful.
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she had been beaten severely and she didn't have any clothes on. >> lydia, paramedics discovered, had also been raped. but that wasn't all that happened. >> 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. >> 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 first 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. >> lydia's condition was critical, quite possibly, even probably, terminal. the doctors induced a coma and in an attempt to keep her alive, stabilize her, treat her horrendous injuries. >> her jaw was crushed, and her
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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? >> 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 sounded very personal. so we thought for sure it was somebody that was in her inner circle, that was close. it had to be somebody that she knew. >> so for the next two days detective shackly combed fort collins checking with anybody who knew lydia. >> we had talked to ex-boyfriends, we had talked to who she had dated the, we had talked to her family and crickets were chirping. >> crickets were chirping? >> crickets were chirping, and it was a whodunit. everybody said they loved her
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and they couldn't imagine this had happened to her. >> 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. >> fingerprints, footprints, any forensic evidence all up in smoke or destroyed by somebody else discovered in the apartment. >> he did a really good job cleaning up. he did quite the job with the bleach. >> 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 finger nails. so no doubt she put up a fight. >> she was trying to defend herself. >> yeah. >> now lydia was continuing that fight. odds not good. >> she was not out of the woods, is what the doctor kept telling us.
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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? >> then three days after the attack, still no suspects, no leads, detective shackley 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. >> so long shot, she figured. but detective shack li called detective gurule in denver. >> 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. >> he was silent on the other
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end of the phone. then finally he said, oh, my god. >> she said, what do you think? and i said, i think it's him. >> i get chills now talking about it. because it was -- 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. >> coming up, a relentless investigator. more and more worried he's been outwitted. >> i'm thinking to myself, is he that smart? is he that smart? >> when "dateline" continues.
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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 would 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.
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>> do you think she was aware of any of that? >> i think deep inside she knew that her family was fighting for her. >> as if worry about lydia's fragile condition wasn't enough, her family also feared the attack wasn't over. >> it was really scary. and 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. >> 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. we had actually heard that from his past girlfriends, as well,
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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. >> but the truly frightening fact was that the suspect was still out there somewhere, on the street, at large. potentially targeting his next victim. 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' dna which detective nash gurule had attained 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. >> she had 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.
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>> so on a friday evening just four days after lydia's attack, the dna found under her finger nail and the sample taken from forbes were sent 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 matter, i didn't care. it was amazing because we had technicians at the colorado bureau of investigations who had no necessary buy-in into this case but they were working around the clock as well because they knew what a big deal this was. >> 60 miles away in denver, detective nash gurule was also awaiting those dna results. anxiously. but he was 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? i threw that around in my head. >> you take this stuff personally. >> this one i did. and i'm thinking to myself, is
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he that smart? is he that smart? >> 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, unworried. 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 sight. so we had teams that were rotating while we were waiting so that we could actually make an arrest. >> all weekend surveillance teams followed forbes as he cruised the nightclub district. >> he had a bottle of whiskey he had been carrying around with him all night. he didn't go in any of the bars. he basically walked around and -- >> he was trolling. >> trolling. yeah. that's a good way to put it. >> then late at night the
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undercover cops spotted travis following a young woman walking home. alone. so, without revealing the surveillance team, one of the cops approached him, asked a question or two, and travis gave a fake name. called himself travis kennedy. the officer let him go, but travis did not go home. and before very long, he began following a second woman. she appeared to be drunk. travis closed in. >> they're like, this guy is too much of a danger. we 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. >> in fact detective shackley'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.
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just some closure to five days of really scary for our community and our home. >> 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 would be out on bail in no time. >> coming up, a determined detective triggers a stunning break in the case. >> yes. yes. that's what i'm saying. >> when "deadly connection" continues. we replaced jill's smart phone with a smartphone from straight talk wireless. she'll get the same nationwide coverage for half the cost. let's see notices. search flights. faster, faster, faster! i'm thinking she noticed. jill saved $950 a year. enough for a girls weekend to vegas. let your freak flag fly, jill. let it fly. same phones, same networks. half the cost. a top android with unlimited everything just $45 a month.
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>> a 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 was working around 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 jacqueline shackley couldn't sit still. >> i was high on adrenaline. it was a waiting game. i kept looking at my phone, hoping for the technicians from vbi to call me. >> especially because travis forbes, who was being held in the fort collins jail, was due to be released soon. very soon.
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>> he was given a bond and was about to bond out at 10:30 on monday night. >> 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 awhile, i just kept praying that it would happen earlier. >> then just minutes before travis' release, a call from the cbi. >> we have a hit. >> wow. >> yes. >> 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.
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>> word of travis' 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 would go out and try and murder again this soon. and i was shocked. we were shocked. >> yeah. >> 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. >> if anybody is going to relay any messages to him, tell him, or if you guys talk to him, tell him we got just one question. where is kenia? that's it. >> but travis wasn't talng anymore, so lee offered a radical idea. >> i called assistant d.a. lombardi. i said, make a deal. >> you wanted a deal? >> yeah. i don't care what it is. i said, i don't care, you can take it down to manslaughter. i didn't care. just make a deal. we just want kenia. >> we really couldn't.
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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. >> 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 shackley paid him a visit. >> he was looking at me like a caged animal. his eyes were huge. he -- it was -- 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 out of here. >> but across town, someone was communicating. after spending five weeks in icu, lydia tillman was transferred to a local rehab hospital, and 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.
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>> i want you to get better soon. >> she got to the part where my 4-year-old started to talk and she laughed when he said, hi, lydia. the first time i got to see her laugh, and i went, she's got memory. she can laugh. >> 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. >> why are you here? >> i'm here to serve a warrant for you.
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>> after 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. i said, you know, you moved 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 be out without being labeled 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? >> yes. yes. that's what i'm saying. >> detective gurule was stunned. travis wanted to cut a deal?
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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, if you do what you say you're going to do, i'll be the first one to shake your hand. >> gurule knew that fort collins authorities would buy in, so all he needed now were the crossed t's and the dotted i's, 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.
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>> 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. >> 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 says, he pulled out. >> coming up, was it all over or was there yet another surprise in store for investigators? >> he got out of the car and he let out this scream. it was a blood curdling -- it made me jump. >> when "dateline" continues.
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it was a long, torturous weekend in the mountains of krad dpoe for detective nash gurule. finally cut a deal with travis forbes to reveal what happened to kenia monge. but just hours later, gurule got looked at me. and she said, you okay? and i looked at her, and i'm -- 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. >> gurule and his wife went on their trip anyway, and for three hang days he was left twisting in the wind once again by travis forbes. kenia's family knew nothing of this, still holding out hope
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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 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. >> 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, deal's back on. it's being finalized. we should be able to go 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 crime charges. and in exchange, he would give them a complete confession, what he did to kenia and lydia.
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and one more thing. he would show them exactly where kenia was. so on a humid morning of 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. kerry 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. >> along 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, if we were even going to the right place. >> travis was in the lead car which included detectives nash
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gurule and jacqueline shackley. >> he was really quiet for the first like five or ten minutes and he was sitting right next to me, and 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? and i said, it's a stress fracture from running. >> 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, because 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 started getting closer, he starts getting a little more quiet. we drive out to the site next to a little grove of trees. >> then quite suddenly, no warning, something came over the cool and breezy travis forbes. >> he got out of the car and his
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whole demeanor changed and he let out this scream, just this blood-curdling -- it made me jump. i wasn't expecting it at all. >> just as quickly, travis pulled himself together and pointed. >> he said, she's over there. so we walk over there and he's standing up on top of the hill, like in this little ravine, and he says, you're standing right on top of her. >> soon the digging began. >> and it was a very, very slow process. there was an anthropologist there. 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, i had 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. >> there was something else perhaps even more difficult that
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kerry lombardi had to do. >> i called tony lee and said they had found a body where he had told us she was, we had found something. >> i needed to let my family know before any of this hit the news. you can't prepare yourself or practice yourself or write down a speech for that day. i had to tell her. >> what was that like? >> that was the hardest thing i've ever done. >> she had been hanging on to hope. >> she had been hanging on to that 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. >> then tony had to tell his children, kenia's little sister and brother. >> the first question out of both of their mouths at different times, is she alive?
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and i had to tell them no. and i couldn't -- >> 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 just never get to have that bond. >> but this most horrendous of days wasn't quite over. police still needed a complete confession from forbes on tape. >> we're driving back and i looked back at him and he goes, hey, nash. i told you i'd tell you where she was. are you happy you found her? are you happy? and i said, there's some questions that need to be answered, and i said, once those questions are answered, then i'll be happy. all right, nash. i told you i would do it. i told you i would do it. and i said, yes, you did.
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>> 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. >> 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.
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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. >> 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. >> to do what she did and to endure what she went through, i couldn't imagine. she's a superhero in my eyes. >> when "deadly connection" continues. ♪
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she was home now. after five, long, horrible months, kenia monge was given a proper burial. >> we needed her home. we needed to know a place where we could at least go and be with her every day, and that was either home or in a grave someplace. >> thank god we have answers. not the answers we want, but we do have answers now. and it still hurts. >> but as one family mourned, another had something remarkable
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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 to dr. rebecca bearden. >> i believe that lydia shouldn't have survived that day. she went through so much, and she probably shouldn't have made it, but she did, and it was because of her determination and her joy. >> soon after that, at travis forbes sentencing hearing, lydia men kenia's family. >> i look at lydia and wish it was kenia. i hate to say that. but i'm glad she was able to escape the monster. >> yeah. >> it was overwhelming, you know, to see the amount of her strength, and her will to live, you know, and what she did during her court proceedings on the day that he was sentenced
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for what he did to her. >> what she did that day is 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 herself, her father read her statement for her, saying that to forgive is easier than holding anger. >> there wasn't a dry eye in that courtroom, including the judge. it's freeing for her, and i understand that, and i did the same. because we're not going to live in that hatred, in that state of mind that doesn't allow you to recover and to heal. >> she's amazing. to do what she did and to endure
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what she went through, i couldn't imagine. i couldn't imagine. she is -- she's a superhero in my eyes. >> and then there was one more surprise. no, not travis' sentence, life in prison. that was merely a formality. it was another gift, this time from kenia to lydia. >> i felt very strong inside me like kenia was telling me, mom, give her that ring. i was wearing that ring. give it to her. it was kenia's ring. give it to her. >> it was kenia's favorite ring. >> and i give it to her and she was so happy. she said thank you, and she was holding me. and the moment i was holding her, it's like i was holding kenia. >> we are related in tragedy. we've got a connection with each other, fortunately, for the rest
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of our lives because of travis. >> kenia's family built a memorial here on the high plains where kenia was found. and they devote themselves now to spreading 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 to them, and they are very grateful, and it actually keeps me and maria sane. >> and lydia tillman? we saved this surprise for last. today lydia is still working very hard to recover. >> try this one. >> and to speak. >> stim-u-li. >> stim-u-li. >> right. yes.
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try yesterday. lydia has -- she's rocked my world. >> 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. >> and so a proper introduction. here just ten months after the attack that nearly took her life is lydia tillman in her own words. people were amazed you survived at all, frankly. >> yeah. i am amazed, too. >> yeah. what has been, in the long recovery process, the most difficult thing to do? >> relearning how to speak was still difficult.
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>> yes. >> i am 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 rehab. the hardest day of my life. >> really. >> to forgive him was super difficult.
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>> how could you do that after what he did to you? >> to heal myself rather than being angry. >> because that would not help you. >> yeah. >> you harbor no bitterness, no -- >> rarely i get mad. >> yes.
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>> i believe travis forbes was acting out of fear and hatred. i choose love and peace over fear. and i won. >> so she did. and then she said, with that big infectious smile on her face, that she had brought a gift for me. >> it's a bracelet. it's -- >> may i open it? >> yes. it's an acronym for my name. it says live your days inspired
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anew. >> which, of course, spells lydia. there's great sadness surrounding the story of travis forbes. unending 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 indomitable lydia who forgave, who won, who told us live your days inspired anew. >> that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for watching. boehner where they are expected
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to give an update on fiscal cliff negotiations. [ cheers and applause ] >> good afternoon, and thank you for coming. as you know, speaker boehner and i have spent the afternoon together, and we'd like to announce that we've reached an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff. in order to get the support of the speaker, i agreed there would be no tax increases. i repeat, zero tax increases. now, why would i do that? i mean, i won the election. i have the leverage. why give in? well, simply put, i felt sorry for this man. i realized how badly the republican party treats him when he even considers raising taxes. i want to tell you a story.
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early this week i found my way into the congressional cafeteria, and what do i see? john boehner sitting all by himself. all alone. not a single member of his party willing to share his company. he didn't even have any milk to drink because -- well, tell them why, john. >> they had taken my milk and thrown it in the garbage. >> they took it and threw it in the garbage. these are supposed to be his friends. his colleagues. but even at the hint that the taxes might be raised on his leadership watch, they turned on him. tell them what you found on your office desk. >> no, i don't want to. >> no, go ahead. go ahead. hey. tell them what your "so-called friends" put in your office desk. >> it was a rubber snake. >> a rubber snake. and did it scare you? >> it did.

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