Exactly 13 years ago, Charla Nash helplessly watched her long-time friend Sandra Herold, the owner, as he mercilessly mauled her in the driveway of her home in Stamford, while she was inside her vehicle.
As the 14-stone ape Charla attacked, Sandras screamed, “He’s eating her!” And quickly called 911 to notify the police.
While Travis went into a frenzy and unpredictably assaulted Charla, Sandra’s spine-tingling screams as she pleaded desperately with the operator depicted a horrifying image of the bloody scene she was observing.
As Sandra sat within the safe haven of her car, she told the 911 operator her beloved pet had killed her friend.
However, Charla did not pass away, but instead endured unimaginable injuries caused by Travis in a moment of uncontrollable anger.
The chimpanzee inflicted severe fractures on all the bones in Charla’s face, forcefully removing one of her hands and nearly all of the other.
He brutally removed her scalp, leaving her without most of her hair, as well as her lips, jaw, nose, and eyelids. And to ensure she would never see again, he gouged out her eyes, robbing her of any remaining glimpse of life.
The destinies of the two women who held the deepest affection for him would forever be altered, but Travis was fatally wounded and eventually succumbed to his actions of aggression.
Travis, the chimpanzee adopted by Sandra and Jerome Herold, was attempting to escape to Sanctuary Chimpanzee Missouri when his mother was shot dead. He was just a few days old at that time.
From time to time, enjoying a glass of wine together and instructing him on proper meal etiquette, Sandra treated Travis as a household companion, nurturing him as if he were her own child.
Wherever Sandra would go, Travis would be close behind and the pair would be spotted together at shops and around the neighbourhood.
She would attire him in garments and Travis became the domesticated chimpanzee turned television celebrity, appearing in advertisements.
Travis was even instructed on how to operate a vehicle and had been recognized for taking control of a car.
At the age of 14, he started displaying signs of restlessness and exhibiting aggressive behavior.
On February 16, 2009, Sandra noticed the indicators and became concerned, so she crushed some Xanax to help him relax.
However, Travis became unpredictable and fled from the house, causing a worried Sandra to contact her friend Charla for assistance.
When the then-50-year-old arrived, he instantly went after her, throwing her up against the side of the car and launching an attack.
Sandra didn’t want to witness the terrifying extent of the destruction Travis was inflicting, but she attempted to intervene and assist herself, only to be filled with horror.
I was compelled to do so. I pierced him — and I needed to acquire a blade. It was ineffective, therefore I proceeded to strike him with the spade in order to cease it. I seized the spade, she stated.
“He gazed at me with a look that seemed to say, ‘Mom, what have you done?'”
The authorities contacted and secured herself inside her vehicle, so she felt as if she was next but Sandra alleges Travis shifted his focus back to Chandra.
Charla has no memory of what happened that day, only that it was disturbing for her and Sandra, and they were unable to offer any insight into Travis’ attack of moments to call 911.
THE EMERGENCY CALL
While Travis assaulted Charla, chilling audio was recorded of the moment Sandra frantically called for assistance.
“He’s devouring her, he’s devouring her!” Sandra exclaimed over the phone, amidst Travis’s screams.
A operator is heard inquiring: “I require you to relax. Why do you require someone there?”.
Sharon shouts: “He’s murdering my friend!”.
“Who is responsible for the death of your friend?,” The confused operator inquired.
Sandra shouted: “Chimp–my primate!”.
“He tore her to pieces! Hurry! Hurry! Please!”
Police officer Frank Chiafari, who had 25 years of experience in the force and, like several residents, had encountered Travis on multiple occasions, promptly attended to Sandra’s phone calls.
He arrived on the scene with a colleague when the chimpanzee began attacking his vehicle and tried to get into his car.
The initial entrance was secured, but Travis maneuvered to the side and discovered an accessible one.
Chiafari struggled to get his grip on the gun, but soon he was able to lift his weapon and focus his hands, firing four shots before.
Following the event, he stated to the New York Times: “Travis provided me with a brief moment to respond.
“He would greet you with a wave. Affable and adorable and tiny, he appeared when I initially laid eyes on him. I simply commence capturing the moment. I perceive his sharp teeth. I witness blood and a menacing growl, as he bares his fangs.”
“Who would have ever imagined that after all these years of playing together, we would encounter this incident 15 years later?”
‘Never Given Up’
Travis had utilized his enormous primate fangs to rip apart Charla’s hands, assaulting her lips, eyelids, eyes, and nostrils.
Bones from Charla’s face were shattered and doctors later had to reattach her jaw. She was left permanently blind from the attack.
Two years later, Charla underwent the first-ever transplant of both hands and face in the world.
The carefully hidden attack had been carried out for the first time since the initial attack.
She stated, “I have never been one to give up. Regrettably, there is not much I can accomplish.”
“I have significantly diminished my independence. I previously had the capability to change my truck tire independently, but presently I am unable to even sustain my own nourishment.”
“It’s extremely challenging to survive. Not just survive – barely exist.
Sometimes you want a home where some kind of people want you, and sometimes you want to go out. I don’t know what my future holds, and that is a scary part.
Charla has dedicated years to undergoing changes and facial procedures in order to regain the ability to smile in the future.
In 2016, she mentioned that the transplant surgeries provided her with an opportunity to engage in activities that she previously overlooked.