Travis Forbes pleads guilty to Kenia Monge murder, will spend rest of life behind bars (24)
Update: The latest legal journey of Travis Forbes, the man charged with killing Kenia Monge earlier this month, was blessedly brief.
This afternoon, Forbes pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the case and will spend the rest of his life in jail without the possibility of parole.
"What I did was horrible and cowardly. It was a mistake," Forbes said at today's hearing, according to the Denver Post. "Please remember me, remember me as I was, not as the monster I have become."
No doubt Lydia Tillman, another of Forbes's victims, although one who managed to survive his attack on her, would agree with this characterization.
Look below to see our most recent post about the Monge case, complete with photos of the nineteen-year-old victim, some of them taken the night she disappeared.
Update, 7:14 a.m. September 9: After Travis Forbes, already in jail for attempted murder and sexual assault, led police to a body buried under a cottonwood tree in Keenesburg, even Tony Lee presumed that Kenia Monge, his nineteen-year-old daughter, last seen early on April 1, had at last been found. But he was still shocked when her identity was confirmed, and disturbed by the memory that he'd once shaken the hand of Forbes, who's now been formally accused of murdering her.
The body identification was announced by the Denver coroner's office, shortly after the Denver District Attorney's office revealed that Forbes would face a charge of first-degree murder. His formal advisement on that allegation is scheduled to take place on the morning of September 23. In the meantime, he remains jailed in Fort Collins, where he's accused of having raped Lydia Tillman, then set her apartment ablaze, forcing her to leap for her life. She lived, but sustained extremely serious injuries.
Meanwhile, Monge's parents, Tony and Maria Lee, are dealing with the finality of the news, and preparing to say goodbye to their daughter in the loving way she deserved.
Look below to see a 9News report about the latest developments, followed by our earlier coverage, including Forbes's mug shot and many photos of Kenia.
Original item, 6:29 a.m. September 8: On April 1, Kenia Monge, nineteen, disappeared after a night of clubbing. Her parents continued to hold out hope for her safe return, despite mounting evidence of lethality involving Travis Forbes, the last man who claimed to have seen her alive. But now, the uncertainty is nearly over. A body presumed to be Monge was unearthed yesterday, and the man who led authorities to the spot was none other than Forbes.
As we've reported, Forbes has been in trouble with the law before. When he was a teenager, he was reportedly arrested for breaking into sixteen homes and businesses in Fort Collins. Among the finds police made were several pairs of stolen panties, including two pairs with the letter "M" written on them with a marker and big rips presumably inflicted by Forbes.
In subsequent years, Forbes added more black marks to his record. In an interview with 9News, he admitted that he spent three years behind bars for burglary; according to him, he used to be a drug addict and would steal Demerol from dentist offices. In recent years, he was also busted for shoplifting and driving on an expired license.
Still, he'd largely avoided public scrutiny until after the disappearance of Monge, a Cherry Hills High School graduate who managed to get into Denver's 24K nightclub despite being underage. Subsequent reports suggest that she left her cell phone and purse behind. Then she was seen walking with a homeless man, after which she was given a ride in a van by Forbes. He said he dropped off a drunk Monge at a gas station on the 500 block of Speer, where she left with a man of Asian descent -- and that's the last time anyone saw her.
Initial reports portrayed Forbes as a good Samaritan. Shortly thereafter, though, more suspicious info began to emerge. According to 7News, police searched his van, which appeared to have new carpeting, and went to a bakery where he rents space, reportedly to manufacture gluten-free granola bars called "Forbies." There, the owner told cops the security system in the space had been turned off that evening -- and video showed that Forbes had done so while wearing what looked like a latex glove. Additionally, an employee at a business next door said he saw several men burning something in a 55-gallon barrel behind the bakery late on April 1. Police grabbed a barrel and a yellow rubber glove as evidence. And then there was the large cooler Forbes was seen transporting into the bakery the next day. The Denver Post reported that it had a broken latch and was being held closed with duct tape.
Nonetheless, Forbes remained a free man -- until he was busted for alleged car theft in Texas in early May. But that charge didn't stick. After being extradited from Texas to Colorado, KWGN reported that the woman whose car he'd taken claimed she'd loaned it to him. She added that she didn't want to pursue charges against Forbes, who she called a friend.
As a result, Forbes was released from Jefferson County jail on June 30. But less than a week later, he allegedly committed a series of acts that wound up with him back behind bars.
According to the Fort Collins Police Department, officers and firefighters converged on an apartment at 1202 Pomona Street at around 5:30 a.m. on July 5 following reports of smoke. Police believe Forbes assaulted Lydia Tillman -- and poured bleach on her -- before setting the blaze. She had to jump from the second-story window in order to escape, suffering serious injuries as a result. She's said not to have known him prior to the attack.
Twelve charges were leveled against Forbes in relation to the Tillman assault. Still, no new information about Monge's disappearance emerged until yesterday, when authorities were reportedly led to a cottonwood tree near the southern Weld County community of Keenesberg by none other than Forbes. It didn't take them long to find a body, and while there's been no positive identification thus far, Tony Lee, Kenia's father, is clearly of the belief that his beloved daughter has at last been located. On his Facebook page, he wrote:
WITH GREAT GREAT SADNESS I HAVE TO REPORT TO YOU THAT DENVER POLICE HAS CALLED ME AND THEY BELIEVE THEY HAVE FOUND KENIA.
Lee posted the same note on the Help Us FIND Kenia Facebook page, which has exploded into an online memorial for a young woman whose life was taken from her far too soon.
Look below to see a report about the latest developments from 9News, followed by Forbes's latest mug shot, images of Monge and friends taken the night of her disappearance, and assorted photos posted by friends during the long search.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Edward and Linda Bryant: What happened to alleged scammers' kids, missing for years?"