In 1938, Sandra “Sandy” was welcomed into the world by a Jewish mother and Italian father who owned a popular bakery in downtown Stamford, Connecticut. They eventually built a home on a windy road called Roch Rimmon, just north of the city. Sandy Herold spoke with a strange New York—New England hybrid accent and spent her whole life in Connecticut. Growing up as an only child, Sandy spent most of her time playing with her dog Gretchen and tending to the horses on the property.
For birthdays, her parents fitted Sandra in silk dresses and cardigans and had her pose for photographs, smiling in front of the cake with Gretchen by her side. She got married right after high school and again in 1960. Her second marriage was romantic, passionate, and desperate. She loved her new husband; they had a daughter named Suzan.
However, the pair would contently fight over his various affairs, and after four years of marriage, they got divorced. At the age of 30, Sandy married her third husband, Jerry Herold. Jerry was a sweet, intelligent, and devoted man.
Jerry raised Sue like she was his own, and the three of them moved into a house in Rock Rimmon, not far from Sandy’s parents. Jerry opened up several businesses in Stamford, including a tow operation and an autobody shop that would soon make the small family unlikely millionaires.
In the ’70s, Sandy, Sue, and Jerry towed their horses from state to state so that Sandy and Sue could barrel-race semi-professionally in rodeos. It was during her time with country singer Loretta Lynn’s traveling rodeo that Sandy met a lifelong friend and 18-year-old runaway named Charla Nash. Charla was rodeoing her way around the country.
One day, Sandy and Charla came across a chimpanzee wearing Western clothes who rode a horse around the ring. Sandy went to find him backstage. He took the gummy bears she was holding from her with his fingers. Later, the chimp spotted Sandy in the audience. He jumped down, ran to her, and leaped into her arms.
With expanding the businesses, the horses in the yard, and their dogs, the Herolds’ life was happily frantic. Sue grew into a platinum blonde version of her mother. The two worked together at the businesses, country-line-danced and raced side by side.
The mother and daughter had a really close relationship. That’s why, when Sue got married and moved away, Sandy was heartbroken and bitter. Then, both of her parents got sick and died. She felt like her world was crumbling down and needed a purpose.
One day in 1995, Jerry was home taking care of the businesses, and Sandy landed in the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. A few days earlier, she got a call from Connie Casey, a breeder in Missouri. “Sandy,” she said, “your baby has arrived. It’s a boy.”
Sandy stood in Casey’s living room. In her arms, she was holding a tiny monkey in a diaper. She named him Travis after her favorite singer, Travis Tritt. Travis looked up at Sandy, covered in black hair except for his face, which was pink. Sandy cried as his hands and feet grasped her. She paid $50,000 in cash for her new baby, and just two days later, they boarded a flight home.
Back in Stamford, Jerry enjoyed playing with Travis, who absorbed their smells and cues and started learning their language. Sandy fed him formula from a bottle, burped him, and put him down for naps in a crib. She basically treated him like her actual baby. At three months, he turned over.
Soon after, he was scooting and then walking on his arms and legs. Sandy and Jerry taught him to use a toilet, and they joined him in the bathtub. They brushed his teeth before teaching him how to do it himself. Sandy spoiled him with clothes and dressed him every morning.
Sandy and Jerry retrofitted their house to accommodate Travis. They caged a large room in the back, which had sliders that led to an outdoor enclosure. They installed a lockable metal door on their bedroom so that Travis could roam the rest of the house freely, especially when left alone.
When Sandy and Jerry weren’t home, Travis had the whole house at his disposal, running from the couch to the kitchen, swinging from the tires and ropes in his room, and jumping on his bed. The Herolds also had a mattress on their bedroom floor, so Travis slept with them most nights.
Sandy and Jerry brought Travis to work with them. They installed tire swings, ropes, and trampolines in a huge room above the tow shop. He was inquisitive and friendly. The tow drivers and mechanics melted whenever they saw the adorable monkey.
This was the happiest time in Sandy’s life. By then, her daughter Sue had divorced her first husband, and she and her young son returned to Stamford, moving into an apartment her parents built next to the auto-body shop. Sandy and Sue worked together in the room above the tow shop with Travis.
The mother-daughter duo joked, gossiped, and talked about men. Sue’s son Tyler was close in age to Travis, and they played well together. However, Travis matured more rapidly than Tyler.
Travis grew up fast. Jerry played catch with him and taught him to ride a tricycle, a bike, and a lawnmower. He was literally the son Jerry never had. Or, I guess, did have. Sandy put on a blue bathing suit and big hoop earrings for a day at the beach with Travis. She carried him into the water and everything.
Sandy and Travis allowed Travis to sit at the table with them for meals. Every morning, he ate his oatmeal with a spoon. She even read him the menu at their favorite restaurant, Pellicci’s. His favorite food was filet mignon. He also enjoyed a good lobster tail.
His chocolate of choice was Lindt’s. He liked Nerds candies and loved ice cream, pulling at Sandy when the ice cream man came down the street. When he was thirsty, he swung onto the counter, took out a glass, and poured himself juice or soda.
Travis had a real personality and a distinct sense of humor. He would get particularly annoyed and naughty when Sandy was on the phone: he’d change the channels on the remote angrily and blast the volume on the TV. Sandy would yell, “cut it out, you son of a bitch!” She’d then laugh, “I’m gonna kill you, you little bastard.” It sounds like an ordinary mother and son to me.
Sandy was eternally dumbfounded by how human-like Travis was. She would always talk about the cells in his brain, shared by humans and chimps, that are believed to help us process complex thoughts and empathize.
Sandy’s old friend Charla Nash came to visit, bringing along her young daughter, Briana. They played outside with Travis, who climbed all over her, messing with her hair and posing for pictures. He climbed the tall oak trees, jumping from one to the next.
It didn’t take long for Travis to become the most famous resident of Stamford. The Herolds plastered his photo on the side of their tow trucks and flatbeds; he was pretty much their mascot. He sat shotgun on tow calls and came to love police officers; virtually everyone on the force had a picture taken with him. Strangers would even pet him on the street or at stores.
A neighbor was out raking leaves on a regular fall day. He noticed a Corvette coming down the Herolds’ driveway across the street. It was Travis’s favorite car. Sandy said he thought he owned the car, and there were rumors that Travis took the keys and got behind the wheel once.
The man raking leaves watched as the car got closer. It was Sandy driving, dressed in animal prints and decked to the nines, with Travis in the passenger’s seat wearing a ball cap and T-shirt. The windows were down, and Sandy and Travis each had an arm hanging out. The man raised his hand, and they waved back.
When Travis was about five years old, Sue got married again. She had two more children and eventually decided to relocate the family near the Outer Banks, where her husband was opening a mechanic’s shop. Sandy wasn’t happy with the news that her only daughter was moving. She felt abandoned and disapproved of Sue’s new husband.
Within a few months, Sandy called Sue and told her she couldn’t stand not seeing her every day. She sent money and presents to North Carolina. Sandy would read every note Sue mailed her over and over again, showed them to Jerry repeatedly, and put them in plastic bags for safekeeping.
Sue was making constant trips to Connecticut to pick up the rest of their things. One night in September 2000, Sue was driving home on an almost empty highway. She had been complaining of back pain earlier that day and took a Percocet.
Somewhere in Virginia, her car flew off the road and crashed into a tree. Luckily, her infant daughter was strapped tight in the car seat and was left unharmed. But Sue was ejected out of the vehicle. Sandy, Jerry, and Travis were all asleep in bed when they woke up to a phone call. Sue didn’t make it.
For her open-casket viewing in Stamford, Sue’s body was put in a floral-print dress that her mother had bought for her. Next to her, there was a huge photograph of Sue in that same dress, with her newborn daughter in her arms.
As you can imagine, Sandy was a mess. She couldn’t handle such a terrible loss. She walked around the room, gasping, and wouldn’t allow certain visitors to come inside. “That’s that bastard!” she yelled at Sue’s husband. “If it wasn’t for him, my daughter would be alive.”
In the years following Sue’s death, Sandy’s feelings fluctuated between explosive anger and unrelentingly depression. She had a hard time maintaining relationships with Sue’s children. She distanced herself from her loved ones, and at a certain point, she contemplated suicide.
Sandy’s entire life revolved around Jerry and Travis. When she finally started leaving the house, it was with the two of them by her side. One bright winter day, they all went to the beach. They walked toward the water and held hands in a straight line; Travis held their dog Apollo’s leash. It was then that Sandy considered Travis her only child.
Travis quickly moved beyond the phases of early adolescence and puberty into early adulthood. One evening after work, Jerry was sipping a glass of wine when Travis sat in the seat next to him. He was clearly interested in whatever Jerry was drinking.
So, Jerry did what anyone would do – offered Travis a sip. It didn’t take long for this to become a nightly routine: one glass of wine for Travis, one glass of wine for Jerry, served in stem glasses, which they clinked together and said cheers.
Travis was also growing more willful. At this point, it had been three years since Sue’s death. On a warm October night in 2003, Jerry, Sandy, and Travis ate a delicious dinner of sausage and peppers and moved to the couch to watch the World Series.
Travis enjoyed watching TV and particularly loved watching sports. The family was cheering for the Yankees. Then, Sandy and Jerry realized they needed to take a quick trip to the tow shop and asked Travis if he wanted to come for a ride. It was a rhetorical question; they always took him.
They were in the 4Runner, stopped at an intersection downtown when someone decided to throw a soda bottle into Travis’s open window. Travis didn’t look happy. He grunted, unbuckled his seat belt, unlocked and opened the door, and began knuckle-running across the road.
He stood inspecting the area in his extra-large adult diaper (he was potty-trained, but he usually wore diapers out). He hopped on people’s cars and lunged at a passerby. Then, he suddenly laid down on the street and started rolling on his back. People began honking, and the traffic jam came to a standstill. Neighbors even came out to watch.
Travis was clearly having a good time, climbing over cars, smiling. He chased down all the officers to respond to the call for a “loose chimpanzee downtown.” Spectators couldn’t help but laugh as he evaded capture and smacked several officers on their behinds.
Even cookies and ice cream couldn’t bring him back. Every time they lured him to the car, Travis opened the door and got out before they could lock it. They tried everything to calm him down, but nothing worked. This went on for two hours.
Finally, when he started getting tired, Travis hopped back into the car and buckled his seat belt. No charges were pressed. Many of the police officers knew Travis personally and noted in their reports that his attitude was just playful. Travis spent the entire next day in his room, grounded.
Pretty much everyone made light of the escapade downtown. The state Department of Environmental Protection was aware of the situation and that the Herolds were in violation of a new statute: they need a permit to keep a primate over 50 pounds.
However, they realized that pressing charges or any action would end with a most likely winnable battle to “take custody of a local celebrity” and chose not to pursue the matter. But Stamford’s animal-control officer was more concerned and contacted primatologists.
She explained to Sandy that Travis was a fully sexualized adult. In the wild, chimpanzees mate non-monogamously at least 50 times a day; he had the strength of five men. She also reminded Sue that adult chimpanzees are known to be unpredictable and potentially violent. The animal-control officer said that maintaining Travis for the next five to six decades of his life was not viable.
Sandy seemed to listen to the officer’s warning but eventually concluded that Travis had never shown even the slightest capacity for violence in the past. However, there was one significant piece of information that Sandy chose not to share with the officer.
Two years earlier, Sandy received a phone call from Connie Casey, the breeder in Festus. She informed the Herolds that Travis’s parents, Suzy and Coco, had escaped their caged with a third chimp. They ran to a ranch near a housing development, where a 17-year-old named Jason Coats was pulling into his driveway with some friends on their way home from Dairy Queen.
Coats claimed that the chimps approached his Chevy Cavalier and trapped the teens inside, rocking the car. Jason Coats eventually got out, ran into the house, and grabbed a shotgun. By that point, Casey arrived and tranquilized Suzy, who was now sitting at the edge of the road, stoned, fingering the grass and flowers.
Casey begged the teenager not to shoot, but he fired three rounds at Suzy. She died two hours later. According to neighbors, the chimps were acting playfully and posed no threat. Jason Coats was found guilty of property damage and animal abuse. He served a month behind bars. Jason still believes that the chimps were dangerous.
After the incident downtown, the Herolds thought it would be better if they stopped taking Travis out in public and spent a lot of time away from work to be at home with him. One night, they were eating spaghetti dinner at the kitchen table, and Travis was sulking.
He was sitting next to Jerry, facing away from him. Jerry and Sandy were trying to engage Travis. Jerry had got some dental work that day. “Daddy got his tooth fixed today,” Jerry said, “Look.” Travis wouldn’t turn around. “Come on, Trav,” cried Sandy. “Look at Daddy’s new tooth.” Travis glanced.
“Come on, Trav,” Jerry begged. “Which tooth had a boo-boo? Which one?” Finally, Travis looked, and Jerry opened his mouth. “Which one?” Travis extended his index finger and placed it on Jerry’s left molar. Sandy and Jerry cheered for him: “That’s the one, Travis! That’s the one!”
Travis’s lips curled open as he smiled. He bounced on his chair and shoved his face in Jerry’s chest. “Show daddy your teeth now,” Sandy said. Travis looked at her, looked at Jerry, and puckered his lips again, exposing his gleaming white teeth, and tilted his head up toward Jerry.
“Show Daddy your big tongue now!” said Sandy. Travis opened his mouth and showed off his giant pink tongue. By now, Travis couldn’t contain himself and had a huge smile on his face, his shoulders shaking in silent laughter. He patted Jerry on the back and wrapped his arms around him.
Jerry would occasionally complain about not feeling well. One morning in March 2005, Jerry played with Travis and went off to work, where his pain got worse. He asked one of his workers to take him to the hospital.
Jerry ended up staying in the hospital for weeks, and doctors tried to arrest his rapidly spreading stomach cancer. Sandy spent basically every waking moment at the hospital. One night, he wanted to talk to her about Travis. He asked her what she would do if he died – if it would be just her, alone with Travis.
He said that as much as it pained him, he urged her to send Travis to a sanctuary. He told her Travis was too big of a responsibility for her to manage alone and explained that it would be better for both of them.
When Sandy returned home from the hospital, Travis frantically smelled her clothes, breathing in Jerry’s scent. At first, he was disoriented by Jerry’s sudden absence, then saddened by it. Sandy put Travis on the phone to speak with Jerry. Travis got so upset each time that she had to take away the phone.
Travis sat rocking back and forth for hours. He took photos of Jerry off the wall, put his lips to the glass, and hugged them. Sandy ended up taking all the pictures of Jerry down and put them in a box. On April 12, Jerry died.
After Jerry passed away, Sandy ignored condolences and isolated herself from most of her friends. Travis continued his rocking. When Sandy sat on the couch crying, Travis brushed her hair gently. He bit her nails and filed them with an emery board. Travis was really there for Sandy and helped her deal with the heartbreak.
Almost a year had passed, and Sandy decided to write a letter. She addressed it to a woman in Florida who operates a respected chimpanzee sanctuary. These were the last two paragraphs:
“Needless to say, after 45 years with the most wonderful man in the world, we are both lost without him and miss him dearly. Travis still waits for him, especially at supper time, because at that time, they both had a glass of wine with their supper, and if my husband ever cooked anything, you can bet it has garlic in it. Try having two guys breathing on your sleep time with (garlic breath).
Often, Travis would go to the bedroom window, sit on the bench seat, look out, get very vocal and happy, and then come back to sleep; this was always very late at night. Finally, I went to a psychic, and she told me Jerry would visit at night and talk to Travis, and my husband would always kiss me good night. P.S. (him and Travis kiss alike) that’s good too.”
“I have no family; my only child, Suzan, had gotten killed in an auto accident four years before Jerry died and whom Travis also loved. My grandkids live in North Carolina, and I don’t see them very often. I live alone with Travis, we eat and sleep together, but I am worried that if something happens to me as suddenly as my husband, what would happen to Travis? Therefore, I have to try to do something before that happens.”
“I set up a trust fund for him, but that’s not enough; he needs someone to play with of his own kind and have the best, most possible life if I’m not here to care for him. I would love to see and talk to you if that’s possible. I am flying down to see your member event enclosed is our donation. I am looking forward to meeting you.”
She signed the letter, “Sandy, (Jerry) and Travis,” and included photos of Travis and the family. She wrote a $250 check, signing it from both her and Travis. She put everything together and stamped the envelope. However, she never mailed the letter or made the trip.
Around the time of Jerry’s death, Charla Nash reunited with Sandy. Charla and her then-12-year-old daughter Briana didn’t have a stable place to live and spent over a year in a homeless shelter. Charla took on odd jobs like yard work and cleaning horse stalls.
The reunion turned out to be mutually beneficial: Sandy invited Charla and her daughter to move rent-free into the loft apartment that Sue used to live in. She gave Charla a job handling towing dispatch and bookkeeping.
Over time, Charla’s jobs blurred. She took care of Sandy’s lawn and looked after Travis if Sandy went away. She rarely left, though. For four years, Travis didn’t leave home once, and Sandy rarely did – aside from her compulsive shopping trips: she spent hundreds of dollars at stores like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, stuffing bags of clothes into plastic bins that filled nearly every room in the house.
Travis and Sandy relegated themselves into the kitchen and suite in the back of the house. In early 2008, construction began for a huge new addition that Jerry designed for Travis years prior. At this point, Travis showed no physical resemblance to his former self.
He was 14 years old, five feet tall, 240 pounds, and morbidly obese. His hairline had dramatically receded, and his center torso turned gray. His face was all wrinkled, and his chest sagged. He spent most of his time eating snacks, watching TV, playing on the computer, and walking around the house.
It was February 16, 2009. Sandy and Charla just got back from a weekend at the Mohegan Sun casino. Before heading home, Sandy took Charla to get her hair colored and curled, just in case two eligible bachelors crossed their paths, they joked.
Sandy also offered Charla some gambling money; they just wanted to have a good time. At dinner, Sandy opened her purse and showed the waiter pictures of Travis. “Do you think he looks more like his mom,” she asked, “or his aunt?”
Now, it was after 3 p.m., and Sandy was starting to panic. She was meeting a friend, and while she was cleaning Travis’s room, he took the keys from the kitchen counter, unlocked the door, and walked out into the yard. He seemed a bit agitated that day.
After finishing his lunch – fish and chips and a Carvel ice-cream cake, he didn’t seem interested in watching TV. He didn’t want to color either or even play with his cat, Misty. He didn’t want his popsicles or the bag of vegetables he liked to toss in the microwave. Sandy was a bit concerned and dropped a Xanax in his mug of afternoon tea.
Sandy was on the phone with Charla and told her that Travis was outside, running from car to car. Apparently, he wanted to go for a ride and ignored Sandy when she asked him to come inside. Later, Sandy would say that Charla volunteered to come help. Charla maintained that Sandy asked her.
Either way, Charla arrived at about 3:40 p.m. She stepped onto the frozen grass holding Travis’s Elmo doll; he was about 35 feet away from her. He knuckle-ran toward her, then came up on his two legs.
“Travis!” shouted Sandy. “Travis! What are you doing? Travis! Stop! Travis! It’s Charla, Travis!” Travis knocked Charla into the side of her car, then to the ground. Charla immediately turned red with blood. Sandy screamed! She found a snow shovel and began beating Travis over the head with it. He was also screaming and continued attacking Charla.
Sandy ran back into the house hysterically and grabbed a butcher knife. Travis stood over Charla, chewing, ripping, and pulling her apart when Sandy plunged the knife into his back. He didn’t stop, though. She pulled the knife out and stabbed him two more times. Finally, Travis turned around and looked Sandy directly in the face.
Sandy ran to her car parked about fifteen feet away. She went inside, locked the door, and called 911 with the butcher knife still in her hand. She cried, “two-forty-one Rock Rimmon Road, send the police!” The dispatcher asked what the problem is and Sandy, in complete shock, yelled, “The—that—the chimp killed my—my friend!”
The dispatcher asked what happened to her friend, and Sandy sobbed as she turned around. “Oh, please! Send the police with a gun—with a gun—hurry up!”
“Who has the gun?” said the dispatcher. Sandy said, “Please, hurry up! Please hurry up! He’s killing my girlfriend!” the dispatcher, who didn’t seem to take this seriously, responded with, “I need you to talk to me, I need you to calm down. Why do you need somebody there?”
Sandy, stunned, was just like, “What? Please, God!” When the dispatcher asked what the problem was again, Sandy screamed, “He’s killing my friend!” to which the dispatcher responded with, “who is killing your friend?” Sandy yelled, “Chimp—my chimpanzee!”
“Oh, your chimpanzee is killing your friend?” said the dispatcher. “Yes! He ripped her apart! Hurry up! Hurry up! Please!” Sandy begged. The operator asked, “What is going on? What is the monkey doing? Tell me what the monkey is doing.”
Sandy answered, “He—he ripped her face off!” and the dispatcher said, “He ripped her face off?” Clearly, Sandy wasn’t getting anywhere with him and just said, “Gun! They got to shoot him! Please! Please! Hurry! Hurry! Please!”
Finally, he said, “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!” Sandy cried. “He’s eating her?” the dispatcher asked. Sandy had enough of him and prayed, “Please! God! Please! Where are they? Where are they?”
I don’t know why the 911 operator had a problem comprehending, but this back and forth went on for about 12 minutes. Finally, the authorities arrived. But it was too late.
When authorities finally arrived at the scene, it was not pretty. They saw a mostly naked body lying on the ground, lifeless and covered in almost half of its blood supply. Travis was casually roaming the property. He headed over to the police car and whacked off the driver’s-side mirror.
He went to the passenger’s side and tried to open the door, but it was locked. He walked back around to the driver’s side, where the door was unlocked. He opened it. The officer struggled to get the gun out of his holster. Travis looked into the car, baring his bloody teeth.
The officer finally released the gun and fired four rounds in one swift motion. Travis was stunned, fell backward, screeched, and then ran off. The cop got out of his car. Huge chunks of scalp and fingers were scattered around the yard. He slowly walked over to the body. With the stump of what was left of her arm, Charla Nash reached for the officer’s leg.
As a group of officers went to look for him in the woods, Travis snuck back into the house. Leaving a trail of blood, he walked through the kitchen into his room. Then, he held onto his bedpost, heaved forward, and died.
As for Charla Nash, it was truly a miracle that she was alive. But her injuries were overwhelming. Travis bit or tore off Charla’s nose, jaw, lips, eyelids, and most of her scalp. Travis broke almost all the bones in her face; he fully ripped off one of her hands and almost the entire other hand. He also rendered her blind.
Miraculously, she didn’t die. Three days after the horrific attack, Charla, who was in critical condition, was flown by a specialized jet from Stamford to the Cleveland Clinic. Next came fifteen months of intervention. A month after the terrifying incident, Charla’s family filed a $50 million lawsuit against Sandy.
After weeks of intense coverage, journalists from all over the world – who attempted to coax Sandy out of the house with flowers, coffee, and sympathy notes – had finally moved on. The reports contained many inaccuracies, including unsubstantiated assertions (which Sandy never disputed) that Travis was the same monkey who appeared in iconic Old Navy ads from the nineties and on The Maury Povich Show.
Things got worse, though; the New York Post accused Sandy of “weird jungle love,” but she exclaimed that she never had sexual relations with Travis.
Even after the suffocating media lost interest in her chimp, one allegation hurt Sandy the most. The accusation was that she cared more about Travis than Charla. “I stabbed my own son,” she cried on the phone to her friends. For a long time, Sandy refused to clean up his blood in her house. She bought a gigantic stuffed chimpanzee and put it on the leather chair in his room.
“I just—you just—you can’t imagine,” she sobbed on the phone. “They cut off his head!” she was referring to the last time she saw Travis. She went to the crematorium to drop off his favorite shirt and realized that he was decapitated for rabies testing.
She tried to get her life back. She started meeting up with friends occasionally and hung out at the casino. She kept shopping – mostly buying clothes for her grandchildren that she never ended up sending. Her house looked like a hoarder’s. She sat on the table, looked through mail and some old letters, doodled Sue’s name on a few envelopes.
She watched Bill O’Reilly every night. She talked and cried on the phone constantly, almost always about Travis. One of Sue’s friends helped her make a profile on Match.com; she went on a date with an elderly man who appalled her when he asked for oral sex while they were eating dinner.
In the end, Sandy was left with nothing but animals. She put bowls outside for the raccoons and fed deer in the yard. She found another chimpanzee named Chance. She knew she couldn’t bring him to Connecticut, so she contributed money to a friend out of state, and the two of them have joint custody of the monkey.
One day, she sat on a couch in the woman’s mobile home. Chance was about a year old and stretched across her lap. Sandy tickled his stomach, and he climbed all over her. They snuggled and played. Sandy’s makeup smudged from tears.
On a summer evening just before sunset, Sandy was alone in Connecticut, feeding the animals outside. She looked up and noticed a cloud resembling a fish’s backbone was floating in the sky. She grabbed her camera and snapped a picture.
Shortly after, her chest started hurting. The sudden pain intensified. She got scared and called a friend to come to be with her at her house. A hot bath didn’t help. The friend called 911. She put Sandy in her car with her bathrobe and slippers and drove to meet the ambulance on its way.
At the E.R., it was determined that Sandy’s aorta was bulging. She needed emergency surgery. However, two hours into the operation, Sandy’s lungs filled with blood. And just like that, they were all gone. All the Herolds were dead.
Sandy did not have it easy. Sure, she had millions, but we know money can’t buy happiness. Losing her daughter was the hardest thing she had to go through. After being with an abusive man, Sandy found Jerry, but he was gone too. Her best friend Charla had terrible life-long injuries, and the guilt consumed Sandy. At least now she’s in heaven with Sue, Jerry, and maybe Travis.
In May 2010, Charla Nash was transferred to a long-term assisted-living facility outside Boston. The countless cosmetic surgeries she went through didn’t accomplish much cosmetically. On her 56th birthday, nine months after the tragedy, she revealed her face to Oprah Winfrey in what has become one of the most remarkable moments in television history.
Her face looked like a bulbous surface of transmogrified skin. She told Oprah she didn’t remember the attack. None of it. She admitted she doesn’t have time to worry about how others look at her. “I just look different,” she explained. “Things happen in life that you can’t change. It’s a tragedy.”
Charla was financially ruined. Her brothers and team of representatives found some movie deals and books ideas on her behalf. Through Brigham and Women’s Hospital, she is one of the first people in the world to receive a face-and-double-hand transplant. Her daughter Briana was obviously stunned by what happened to her mother, but she seems to be doing fine now.
When her brother told her that Sandy had passed away, Charla was shocked. She said, “Sandra was a troubled woman, and maybe she has some peace now.” With all the loss she suffered, it sounds to me like Sandy died of a broken heart.