Assault victim: 'I have the utmost faith in people'

9:05 PM, Sep 25, 2012   |    comments
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  • Lydia Tillman (pictured right) and her brother Jacob (pictured left)
  • Lydia Tillman (pictured left)
  • Lydia Tillman (pictured right)
  • Lydia Tillman (pictured left) and Denver Police Detective Nash Gurule (pictured right)
  • Lydia Tillman (pictured left)
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  • Lydia Tillman, 32, made it through an attack by a man who had already killed one woman by the time he entered her Fort Collins apartment on July 4, 2011.

    Travis Forbes assaulted Tillman and set her apartment on fire. At the time, the then-31-year-old Tillman had to jump out of a second-story window to save her own life. 

    If Tillman had not jumped out of that window on that day, she may have never met a woman she considers a close, dear friend. Dr. Jill Armour is Tillman's speech therapist. They have grown close after the horrific tragedy.

    "I'm so proud of you, Armour told Tillman. "I love you."


    Tillman has been doing speech therapy with Dr. Armour since she got out of her coma and rehab in October 2011. 

    Tillman woke up from a coma not being able to speak. By the time she met Dr. Armour in October 2011, she knew 10 words.

    "No, yes, thank you," Tillman recalls, counting with her fingers and her speech still a bit slow.

    "We started working on you being able to say your name," Armour said.

    "I was so frustrated to not be able to speak my name," Tillman said. "But it's all over, Lydia!"

    Her enthusiasm and optimism is who Tillman is. 

    "I can't help it," she said, "It's inherent in my personality."

    She and Armour used to meet almost every day in the beginning so she could learn how to speak again.

    Now, Tillman is not only much faster with her speech, since 9NEWS last talked to her in February 2012, but she's gone back to her part-time job at the Natural Wine Company. Her therapy sessions with Armour are now down to three days a week.

    "Lydia always wants to up the difficulty, and take on another challenge," Armour said.

    "It's necessary for me to challenge myself," Tillman chimed in. "Thanks to you, I never got bored."


    Because of Tillman's inherent optimism, she says she's not worried about the next chapter.

    She doesn't have health insurance and needs to raise $65,000 to pay for jaw surgery which Forbes broke in multiple places. Tillman hasn't been able to chew normally since then and hasn't been able to eat regular food.

    The surgeons in California are the best she said. They already gave her a 20 percent discount on an expensive procedure.

    "I have the utmost faith in people, humans, they'll take care of me," Tillman said. "I can chew soft foods only, and I blend my greens because my teeth don't match up. I miss salad."

    By next spring, she hopes to have some salad again.

    Her brother Jacob is helping raise funds, which you can donate to here,


    "[She's] just sounding so much more normal," Armour said. 

    Tillman's lost a lot in the attack, including her fluency in Spanish. Armour hopes she will get it back, eventually.


    In April 2011, Forbes killed Aurora teen Kenia Monge, leading Denver Police to her body months later. Forbes is currently serving a life sentence without parole for the crimes. 

    (KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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