MASONVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – A Fort Collins woman who was attacked and had to jump from her burning apartment in July was surrounded by friends and family during her first weekend out of the hospital.
Lydia Tillman, 30, is still recovering from a stroke and other injuries she sustained in the July 5 crime. On Sunday in Masonville she used a speech-assistance program on her iPad to communicate with those gathered at a benefit for her.
The Northern Colorado benefit was one of many that are being held to help with Tillman’s medical bills.
“It’s been rough,” her sister Esther Hartsky said. “Not knowing if your sister was going to live for 4 weeks. She was on life support for about 4 weeks and not knowing if she was going to live and what kind of life she was going to have afterwards, it was tough.”
Travis Forbes, 31, faces charges in the case that include attempted first degree murder, sexual assault and arson. Investigators say he attacked Tillman and at some point afterwards set fire to the second story apartment. They said they found several ignition points in the building and evidence of an accelerant inside the unit.
Tillman was taken to a hospital in Denver after the attack and the fall and wasn’t released until this past Friday. One of her biggest hurdles is learning to speak again.
After the arrest in the case relatives of an Aurora woman who went missing in April got suspicious about the suspect. Forbes had told police he was the last person to see Kenia Monge before she vanished in Denver. Earlier this month Forbes allegedly led police to Monge’s body, which had been buried in a shallow grave near Keenesburg.
The Denver DA has charged Forbes with first degree murder in the Monge case.
RELATED STORY: Travis Forbes Pleads Guilty In The Murder Of Kenia Monge
Tillman and her family will attend a court hearing for Forbes on Tuesday in Fort Collins.
“After that day, we’re not thinking about the man or anything. We’re just going on celebrating her life,” Hartsky said. “If you put in negative stuff and have those roots grow, they can control your life and we’re not going to let him do that to us.”
Hartsky told CBS4 they allowed a CBS4 crew to attend Sunday’s benefit because they believe the road to recovery for their family is one that can inspire others. Their goal is to move past the crime and to now focus on the story of survival.
“Because she’s alive and well and with us we want to celebrate that every day, because we didn’t know if we were going to have that,” Hartsky said. “Her spirit, mind and soul have not been touched. It’s the physical things that need to catch up with her mind.”
Monge’s family and Tillman’s family have been in contact with each other. They hope to meet soon.
Tillman works at the Natural Wine Company, a distributor of wines headquartered in Colorado. On a special section of the company’s website there is a place where people can contribute funds to help with Tillman’s recovery.
There is also a Facebook page set up for those interested in helping Tillman out.