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Travis the Menace

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Travis with a Stamford police officer.  

Now it was after 3 p.m., and Sandy was in a bit of a panic. She was meeting a friend, and as she’d been cleaning Travis’s room, he’d walked into the kitchen, picked up the keys from the counter, unlocked the door, and ventured out into the yard. He’d seemed agitated for a good part of the day; after eating a lunch of fish and chips and Carvel ice-cream cake, he’d not been particularly interested in watching any of the three TVs that were playing in the house. He did not want to draw or color. He did not want to pet his cat, Misty. Even the smorgasbord of food—the Popsicles in the freezer she’d labeled for him with R for red and F for Fudgsicle, the steam-in-a-bag vegetables he liked to toss in the microwave himself—was unappealing. Sandy, slightly concerned, had dropped a Xanax in his mug of afternoon tea.

She was on the phone with Charla. She told her about Travis. He was outside, she said, running from car to car, apparently wanting to go for a ride; he’d ignored her entreaties to come back inside. Later, Sandy would say that Charla volunteered to come over and help; Charla would maintain she was asked. In any case, Charla arrived at about 3:40, opened the iron gate at the end of the driveway, and drove to the front of the house. She stepped out onto the frozen dirt and grass and held over her face a red Elmo doll she’d thought to bring with her. Travis was in the front yard, about 35 feet away. He knuckle-ran toward her, then came up on his two legs.

“Travis!” Sandy shouted. “Travis! What are you doing? Travis! Stop! Travis! It’s Charla, Travis!”

Travis knocked her into the side of her car. Then to the ground. Almost immediately, Charla turned red with blood. Sandy screamed and grabbed a nearby snow shovel. She ran to Travis and began beating him over the head. He was screaming, too, a terrible high-pitched screech. He continued at Charla, unyielding.

Hysterical, Sandy ran back to the house. She grabbed a butcher knife. She ran back, screaming all the while. As Travis stood over Charla, chewing, ripping, pulling, Sandy plunged the knife into his back. He did not stop. She pulled the knife out and stabbed him twice more, to little effect. Travis stood up finally, turned to look Sandy in the face—directly in the face—then continued.

Sandy ran to her Volkswagen Passat, parked about fifteen feet away. She got in and locked the door. She dialed 911, still holding the butcher knife.

“I live alone with Travis. We eat and sleep together, but I am worried if something happens to me, what would happen to Travis,” Sandy wrote.

“Stamford 911, where’s your emergency?”

“Two-forty-one Rock Rimmon Road, send the police!”

“What’s the problem?”

“Send the police!”

“What’s the problem there?”

“The—that—the chimp killed my—my friend!”

“What’s wrong with your friend?”

Sandy gasped, pressed her feet into the floor of the car to turn around and look, her face pushing the buttons of her cell phone. She sobbed.

“Oh, please! Send the police with a gun—with a gun—hurry up!”

“Who has the gun?”

“Please, hurry up! Please hurry up! He’s killin’ my girlfriend!”

“I need you to talk to me, I need you to calm down. Why do you need somebody there?”

“What? Please, God!”

“What is the problem?”

“He’s killing my friend!”

“Who’s killing your friend?”

“Chimp—my chimpanzee!”

“Oh, your chimpanzee is killing your friend?”

“Yes! He ripped her apart! Hurry up! Hurry up! Please!”

“What is going on? What is the monkey doing? Tell me what the monkey is doing.”

“He—he ripped her face off!”

“He ripped her face off?”

“Gun! They got to shoot him! Please! Please! Hurry! Hurry! Please!”

“Ma’am, ma’am, I need you to calm down. They’re already on their way.”

“I can’t. I can’t … He’s eating her! He’s eating her!”

“He’s eating her?”

“Please! God! Please! Where are they? Where are they?”

It went on for twelve minutes.

When the authorities finally arrived, they saw a body lying mostly naked on the ground, lifeless and covered in nearly half its blood supply. Travis was roaming the property. He made his way to the police car. He swatted off its driver’s-side mirror. He went to the passenger’s side and tried to open the locked door. He walked back around to the driver’s side. He tried the door. It opened.

The officer lurched. He struggled to remove his gun from its holster. His body became wedged against the center-console computer. Travis stared into the car, baring his blood-streaked teeth. In one swift motion the officer at last released his gun and fired four rounds. Travis staggered backward, screeched, defecated, and ran off.

The officer got out of his car. Huge chunks of scalp and fingers lay scattered around the yard. He walked slowly to the body. With the stump of what remained of her arm, Charla Nash reached for his leg.


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