Charla Nash with Travis the chimpanzee chimp in Stamford, Conn., during happier times.
On February 16, 2009, Travis attacked Sandra Herold’s 55-year-old friend Charla Nash, inflicting devastating injuries to her face and limbs. Travis had left the house with the Herolds’ car keys, and Nash came to help get the chimp back in the house; upon seeing Nash holding one of his favorite toys, Travis immediately attacked her. Travis was familiar with Nash, who had also worked at the Herolds’ towing company, although Nash had a different hair style at the time of the attack. The chimp had been taking medication for Lyme disease. Herold, then 70 years old, attempted to stop Travis by hitting him with a shovel and stabbing him with a butcher knife. “For me to do something like that – put a knife in him – was like putting one in myself,” Herold later said. The chimp turned around, she said, as if to say, “‘Mom, what did you do?'” The ape was angered more. Herold then called 9-1-1 and pleaded for help. Travis’ screams can be heard in the background of the tape as Sandra pleads for police, who initially believed the call to be a hoax, until she started screaming, “He’s eating her!” Emergency medical services waited for police before approaching the house. Travis walked up to the police car when it arrived, tried to open a locked passenger door, and smashed a side-view mirror. Then he went calmly around to the driver’s-side door and opened it, at which point Officer Frank Chiafari shot him several times. Travis retreated to the house, where he was found dead next to his cage.