Still Undefeated

February 18 2008, 6:00 AM

Three years ago today, our city was locking its doors and saying a little prayer that there wouldn't be another attack, that the Denver police would finally nab Brent J. Brents, a man that had been terrorizing the city for nearly a week. But that prayer went unanswered. At 5:30 p.m. on that Friday night, Brents struck for the seventh time in eight days. After raping four women and two children in the previous week, he assaulted 33-year-old Tiffany Engle in a vacant apartment at 10th and Marion streets. Engle, who managed the building, had entered Apartment No. 4 to double-check on some maintenance work when she encountered Brents, who was fully naked and holding a young woman hostage. As Engle tried to run back out the door, Brents grabbed her, choked her, and beat her nearly to death with a two-by-four. Leaving Engle for dead in the empty apartment, Brents grabbed his hostage and the keys to Engle's car. The man who had terrified an entire city was caught hours later near Glenwood Springs after police used Engle's cell phone, which she left in the car, to track his movements. Brents was arrested with little difficulty and dragged back to Denver County jail to await trial. The 36-year-old was charged with 80 felony counts, including one count of criminal intent to commit first-degree murder for the assault on Engle. He was eventually sentenced to more than 1,000 years in prison. Engle spent nearly 10 weeks in the hospital, first enduring brain surgery and then weeks of frustrating rehabilitation. The attack left her with impaired peripheral vision in her right eye and a 30 percent hearing loss in her right ear. Her short-term memory was badly damaged. She couldn't walk. She had bad infections in her ear and her surgical wound. And she had to be constantly monitored for seizures. But she survived. Today, she is thriving. Still a Denver resident, Engle works downtown, owns a town home in the Park Hill neighborhood, and says she's doing just fine. Her eyesight and hearing losses are permanent but "I'm used to those things now," she says. "I still walk into things now and again but who doesn't?" Engle also suffers from some residual dizziness and is still at an increased risk for seizures, but those things haven't stopped her from living life just as she wants. In fact, in an ironic and satisfying twist, Engle, who had a trip planned to get her SCUBA open-water certification that fateful weekend, went diving for the first time only two weeks ago. A cruise to the Caribbean served as a much-needed and much-deserved vacation, and also illustrated just how far Engle has come since Feb. 18, 2005. 5280 covered Engle's ordeal in "Undefeated," which ran in our October 2005 issue.

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