FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – A man who says he was the last one to see a missing Aurora woman before she vanished is now accused of arson and assaulting a different woman.
Police in Fort Collins arrested Travis Forbes, 31, on Monday night on a slew of charges. They think he is responsible for both the July 5 fire at an apartment complex that was likely intentionally set and the assault on a 30-year-old female resident there.
Lydia Tillman, the resident, was seriously injured when she jumped out the second story to escape the flames. Police said she was also assaulted in her apartment beforehand.
Police say there were several ignition points in the building and evidence of an accelerant inside the unit.
Tillman was taken to a Denver hospital and for several days after the crime she was not in good enough shape to talk to investigators. It’s not clear if such a conversation has now taken place.
Forbes faces charges in the case that include attempted first degree murder, sexual assault and arson. He was already in jail in Fort Collins at the time of Monday’s arrest. He was taken into custody on a charge of false reporting of identity to authorities over the weekend.
The arrest affidavit has been sealed in the case so it’s not clear what further details officials might be able to release.
Tillman, a sales representative for the Natural Wine Company, moved to Fort Collins from Longmont a month or so ago. She lived alone at her apartment.
Tillman’s next-door neighbor, Martha Chavez, said she’s been fighting feelings of guilt because she didn’t check on Tillman after hearing unusual sounds coming through the wall.
“I did hear things in the morning that you just don’t connect it, you know,” Chavez said. “I thought she was just running late to work or something.”
Chavez said she’s relieved there has been an arrest.
“He reminds me of a Ted Bundy because he’s not ugly,” she said. “He could lure just about anybody.”
Kenia Monge has been missing since April 1. Her disappearance in Denver has been highly publicized by Denver media outlets.
Forbes told police he met Monge at a bar in LoDo that night. He says he dropped her off a Denver gas station later on. She hasn’t been seen since. Denver police say Forbes’ arrest in Fort Collins doesn’t change their investigation of Monge’s case.
So far Forbes has not been listed as a suspect in the Monge case by Denver police, despite the fact that Forbes has stated publicly that he should be considered a suspect. Police have interviewed him about the case in the past.
Monge’s parents say they can’t find a connection between their daughter and Tillman, but see a frightening similarity in the cases. Tony and Maria Lee said they are more convinced than ever Forbes is involved in their daughter’s disappearance.
“Travis Forbes knows where Kenia is, and I want him to tell us where Kenia is,” said Tony Lee, Monge’s stepfather. “The one that shocked me the most, of all the three charges that really convinced me that he knows something, is the arson.”
Tony Lee said arson is in search warrant evidence in Monge’s case. Tony Lee was referring to Forbes allegedly burning something in a barrel outside a LoDo business the night Monge disappeared.
“Burning evidence is the first thing that comes to your mind,” he said.
Tony Lee said there were several things Forbes said to him when they met that made him doubt Forbes’ story. One was Monge leaving the gas station with a homeless man after she asked him for a cigarette.
“She would never leave with a homeless man, she would never get in a car with a stranger,” Tony Lee said. “And he reached out to shake my hand. At that point he started crying. When I shook his hand, he was shaking.”
The couple still holds out hope their daughter is alive.
“Travis please, I’m Kenia’s mom, bring my baby back because this is not life for me anymore. This is hell,” Maria Lee said.
After the Monge disappearance Forbes was arrested in Texas on a stolen vehicle warrant out of Wheat Ridge. He was extradited to Colorado and then released from custody in Jefferson County on June 30 after charges were dropped in that case.