Charla Nash is the surviving victim of a savage monkey attack that happened on February 16, 2009 in Stamford, Connecticut. Travis the chimpanzee mauled Nash as she arrived to help her friend Sandra Herold lure him back into his home. Charla kept the remnants of her face hidden after the attack until she revealed her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Dial ‘M’ for Monkey
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Perhaps one of the most harrowing 911 calls ever recorded was when Travis the chimpanzee nearly killed Charla Nash by mauling her face for several minutes.
The dispatcher doesn’t seem to believe Sandra’s claim that the monkey is killing her friend. However, you can hear that his inflections change when she says, “He’s Eating Her Face!”
Sandra called 911 at 3:45 and police arrive within 5-10 minutes to help Charla, who by this point is most certainly near her death.
Sandra tells the dispatcher and police that she tried to stop the attack by hitting Travis with a shovel. When this proved unsuccessful, Sandra took a butcher’s knife and plunged it into the monkey. In a tear-jerking remembrance, Sandra laments, “He looked at me like, ‘Mom! What did you do?.”
Travis is eventually killed by police and a toxicology report is conducted from his body where investigators found traces of Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication. Sandra Herold admitted that before her friend Charla arrived, she had successfully coaxed Travis back inside, where she gave him “several” Xanax mixed in with tea.
However, the tea Xanax didn’t work for its intended purpose, or perhaps Travis was experiencing a serious side effect from the drugs.
Travis had escaped once again, so Sandra called her friend Charla Nash to help her get him back into the house.
Charla had known Travis for 10 years and had spent many hours in his company. However, on this day, she sported a different hairstyle and tried to coo the monkey by holding a stuffed animal in front of her face.
Investigators believe these changes confused the chimp.
Once Travis began attacking Charla, there was nothing she could do. Not only did the 200-pound chimpanzee have a weight advantage, but these creatures are on average 4 to 7 times stronger than a human of equal weight.
Monkees and Pigs
Travis secured his fate when he began attacking the officers who were trying to remove him from Charla Nash.
Using sheer force, Travis began trying to “rip the doors off” of the police cruiser in an attempt to reach the police officers inside. Travis successfully puts himself inside the police cruiser. There were no officers inside, and Travis was trapped. It was at this point when one officer shot Travis “at close range”.
Police Captain Richard Conklin claimed “He’s trapped in his car,” “He has nowhere to go. So he pulls his sidearm and shoots the chimp several times in close proximity.”
Although mortally wounded, Travis escapes and he runs in the house. Police follow his trail of blood where they found his body.
He had crawled into his bed and died.
Monkey Meat Grinder
Somehow, Charla Nash survived this harrowing event, though after seeing her appearance it is safe to say that most people would rather have died that day.
Charla’s face was completely ripped off. Travis badly destroyed or ate several pieces of her upper body and face during the attack.
Paramedic Rick Esteben had arrived on the scene and later said, “I saw some fingers. There were some teeth. There were blood trails up to where the patient was laying down. Her facial structure was completely gone.”
Another responding paramedic was Andrea Repco, claimed that when she saw Charla’s hands, “I would have never imagined that an animal could have done that. They honestly looked like they went through a meat grinder.”
They rushed Nash to the Stamford trauma center, where Dr. Kevin Miller began administering life-saving procedures. He stated, “The monkey had ripped off her entire upper jaw. Had ripped off her nose, which was just hanging on by a thread. We found extensive chimpanzee hair and chimpanzee teeth implanted into the bone. I couldn’t believe that this woman was awake and conscious when she came in.”
Monkey See, Monkey Doom
Travis the chimpanzee was born inside a wild-life compound in Festus, Missouri. The owner of the compound, Connie Casey, had sold Travis (known as a “for profit product”) to Sandra Nash 14 years earlier.
Shockingly, Travis’s mother, Suzy the chimpanzee, was killed similarly after she and 2 others escaped the compound for a sightseeing trip around their neighborhood.
Jason Coats, a self-described “country boy” shot Suzy in his driveway and claimed he did so for self-defense reasons. However, Coats’s statement was refuted by several neighbors claiming that Suzy was already sedated and posed no harm to Jason.
Basically, he murdered her for no reason.
Jason Coats spent an extensive amount of time locked up for the shooting.
As Travis got older, he began gaining notoriety in the press. He could do many things that humans could do, including drawing and drinking from a cup. They featured Travis in several commercials and even appeared on the Maury Povich Show.
Charla Nash, Then and Now
Charla Nash has received extensive reconstruction surgeries over the years since Travis nearly mauled her to death. Most of the surgeries are aesthetic and serves no functional purposes besides a hint of normalcy in appearance.
From Poughkeepsie, New York, Charla (real name Francine) moved out from her home at 17-years-old and became a cowgirl in the rodeos. Here she would get the name Charlie, which she later changed to Charla.
According to friends and family, Charla has always been tough. She traveled the country and lived a life of excitement and passion.
It was at a horse auction she met her friend Sandra Herold. The two formed a close, bonded friendship that would span 30 years.
She has always been an “independent woman”, although now she is completely blind and needs continual help. She lives in a nursing home outside of Boston.