After Police Allow Confessed Pedophile to Flee, Mom Becomes Vigilante, Hunts Down Son’s Abuser

in familyprotection •  11 months ago

By Jack Burns

 Anyone who has ever dealt with law enforcement when they’ve been a  victim of a crime knows that the wheels of justice move very slowly. For  some, the waiting is too much to bear and when police—who are often  more concerned with prosecuting people for possessing a plant—refuse to go after criminals, they take matters into their own hands. 

When Lydia Lerma discovered that her son had been molested by a man  who was living with her ex-husband, the crime devastated her. However,  the insultingly low bail placed on her son’s abuser was equally  devastating as it allowed him to walk free for very little money. When  police allowed Andrew Vanderwal to walk free after posting $750 bail,  the family was doubly impacted. Worse still, Vanderwal fled to Mexico,  escaping justice and infuriating Lerma, who then made it her mission to  become a pedophile hunter. Vanderwal had fully confessed to molesting Lerma’s son. 

Yet even with  a full confession, a judge set the bail so low he was able to get out  of jail and go on the run. Vanderwal quickly found refuge south of the  U.S. border, eventually settling in Cuauhtemoc, Mexico, which is where  Lerma found him, almost a year and a half after police let a confessed  pedophile walk free. 

“The only way I can explain it is, I hunt…And when you’re  hunting and you see an animal, there’s that adrenaline rush — can I  take this shot? Can I do this?”

Lerma’s comments clearly indicated the fury she felt seeing Vanderwal  attempting to be a free man in Mexico. Her son was being abused by the  confessed pedophile while the boy was visiting his father. The two men  were roommates. 

Lerma’s ex-husband actually walked in on Vanderwal  molesting the boy, which resulted in police arresting him and charging  him with three felonies: sexual assault of a child, sexual assault of a  child by someone in a position of trust and sexual assault of a child  younger than 15. 

Vanderwal had been a volunteer at a youth ice hockey league for boys  eight years old and younger but no one had been molested at the ice  rink—just at the man’s home, the same home where Lerma’s ex-husband  lived. Assuming the role of a family member, the boy was subjected to  calling the man, “Uncle Drew.” 

The abuse took place over a four-month  period of time. 

Upon his arrest, Vanderwal fled, but not for long. Lerma tracked him  down like a hunter on a quest to kill a predator. One motivating factor  driving Lerma was what she discovered in “Uncle Drew’s” room. It was a  box with “Drew” written on the top of it. The Coloradoan detailed the contents of what Lerma considered to be his treasure chest: 

“A big black boot box, taped shut. ‘Drew’ was scrawled  on the top in cursive. Lerma’s hands trembled as she ripped off the  packing tape. Inside was a boy’s baseball glove, a Nerf gun, a sneaker.  All labeled with the same boy’s name. In plastic storage tubs beside the  box, she found more: stacks of kids’ drawings, primary colors and  marker stick figures. Sheets of notebook paper coated in the misshapen  and misspelled words of children: ‘Dear Drew, thank you so much for  evrything you do for me…’ ‘I am sorry for misbehaiveing.’ ‘Please  forgive me.’ Then there were the photos: Boys smiling as Vanderwal  clutched their shoulders. Boys peering from class photos, family photos,  team photos. Boys Lerma had never seen before. She sat there, crying  and shaking as she rifled through what she described as Vanderwal’s  ‘trophy chest.’ 

Outrage, disgust, and bewilderment might be the only adjectives Lerma  would use to describe her interactions with police during the  subsequent investigation. 

Not only did they not seem interested in  interviewing parents of the children displayed in the photos but they  reportedly told the mother they would not go “fishing for victims.” 

The DA reportedly told her to cool off, but that was not something  she would do. She took it upon herself to find each parent and see if  their son, too, had been a victim of “Uncle Drew.” Three more boys had  been molested but only one went to the police. But by then, Vanderwal  was gone. He fled Colorado and left his vehicle in El Paso when he  crossed the border.

 Lerma used her knowledge of information technology as a data resource  manager to track him to Mexico. And, possibly, she tapped into her  Apache roots to track him down once she hit the ground running. Lerma is  also a Lipan Apache tribal member. Find him she did, predictably,  around more children—apparent proof pedophiles never change their ways. The angry mother was not only incensed enough to kill the man, she  was capable enough as well. 

As an NRA-certified firearms instructor, she  could have dispatched the confessed pedophile with precision and ease.  She refrained, preferring to let the wheels of justice catch up with him  and bring him back to face his judgment in court. The Coloradoan  writes: 

“She pestered police, the DA’s Office and the FBI for  updates that she says rarely came. She contacted a private investigator.  When she found out about Vanderwal’s abandoned car, she took to  Facebook, which had long been her preferred platform for activism.”

Here is the video Lerma posted about four months after her son’s  abuse was revealed and after she realized Vanderwal had fled to Mexico:

 Lerma detailed the very real feelings she had, knowing her son’s  predator had fled the country, coming to terms with her own sexual abuse  she endured as a child and the strange phenomena that occurs when a  young victim accuses an adult of sexual abuse. She also had harsh words  for her son’s pedophile and others like him: 

“I know who you are, and i have confronted you…and you  know what you did…And you will pay for what you did…you may not pay  through the legal system but I will let people know in one way or  another what you’ve done. And for all you sick pedophiles out there it  will catch up to you, you will pay for what you’ve done…If I have to  head to Mexico and find this an I will do it.”

Lerma attempted to deal with her anxiety, trauma, and frustration  with the justice system. According to the Coloradoan, she tried a lot of  things to alleviate the anger, depression, and anxiety associated with  the failed justice system. They write: 

“In the ocean of days between Vanderwal’s reported  confession and his return to Fort Collins, Lerma struggled to stay  afloat. She couldn’t sleep without her son by her side. Sometimes she’d  end up on the floor, sobbing in the fetal position. She’d go to the  sweat lodge, burn sage, cedar and pollen. She tried medication, but it  made her feel like a zombie.”

Even after locating several more victims and their families, after  encouraging them to file police reports, and after several months of  Facebook messages, Lerma finally decided that after a year it was time  to take action on her own. 

She planned to quit her job, cash out her  retirement, and go hunting for Vanderwal in Mexico. But then she  received an anonymous tip in an email. 

Hello. I’ve seen you’re looking for Andrew Todd Vanderwal. I have some information about him if you’re still looking for him,” the email said. 

After exchanging several emails with the tipster, Lerma learned that  Vanderwal had been living in a German Mennonite community in Cuauhtemoc,  using aliases such as “Charlie Harper Penner” and “Andrew Webster.” 

The anonymous contact also gave Lerma the pedophile’s new cell phone  number, his WhatsApp profile, and told her that “Uncle Drew” had taken  up coaching a boy’s baseball team in the Mexican city. Lerma passed all  of the new information along to FBI Agent Philip Jones, who reportedly  told her in a text message: 

“Lydia, I know your desire to get this guy, but DO NOT go  to Cuauhtemoc. There’s nothing positive you can accomplish that is not  already in the process of being accomplished.”

By the time Lerma received the message, she had already landed in  Mexico with tons of cash in hand to get Vanderwal arrested and deported  back to the U.S. for trial—but that plan was derailed by the FBI who  told her Mexican authorities would likely tip off Vanderwal. 

Lerm’s new  plan entailed getting close enough to take pictures to prove Vanderwal  was living in Cuauhtemoc. Armed with a camera, Lerma located Vanderwal and lured him to an  Applebee’s parking lot in Mexico where she took his picture. He was  wearing a shirt which read, “Live and Let Live.” 

She sent the pictures to the FBI station in Mexico and asked them to  arrest him by her birthday, which was February 13. On February 19, she  got a text message that said, “Happy Belated Birthday.” 

After  his arrest and return to Fort Collins, Colorado, Judge Susan Blanco  raised Vanderwal’s bail to $750,000. He remains behind bars, but it is  just a small consolation in a yearslong ordeal. 

“To me, that’s mental torture. To have to visit  this every day, and think about it every day. And if you think about it  too much, you go all the way back to what actually happened, and that’s  the most devastating thought of all. Somehow we’ve got to get past it,” Lerma told The Coloradoan.

 Lerma said she won’t be able to rest until Vanderwal is permanently behind bars. 

“Death would be too easy for Vanderwal,” Lerma said. “I  want him to wear that scarlet letter for the rest of his life. I want  him to have to face those other inmates, I want him to face the court, I  want him to face his parents, I want him to face his peers—knowing that  he’s a pedophile. I want him to live knowing the world knows that.” 

One mother’s quest for justice could have been much simpler. The  authorities should have done a better job with the investigation, which  would have uncovered a pattern of abuse and a story of a serial  pedophile. Vanderwal could have remained behind bars awaiting trial, not  given a chump change amount of bail. 

He could have been quickly  arrested by the FBI when it was clear he was there in Cuauhtemoc,  Mexico. Lerma’s determination should have been shared by the FBI and  Fort Collins police. Instead, they sat back and let a mother do what  they could have and should have done—taken matters into their own hands. 

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They just don't care, and they have a ton of work with very little funds. Worse, sometimes they will be told not to investigate certain crimes for political reasons. You cannot depend on the state or the agents of it for justice. That truth is one reason I became a private investigator.

He's a lucky guy. If he had done that to my child, things would have ended very differently.


This woman is a hero. But I agree, I'm pretty sure I would have just killed him and ended up in prison myself.

Incredible and utterly terrifying that we can't count on the authorities to help parents protect their children

I think he would of been in a bad accident before I would of called the FBI. Great story thanks for sharing.

This woman is a hero. But I agree, I'm pretty sure I'll kill him and end up in his own prison.

Thank goodness it's changing. Seizing Backpage was a huge takedown of these sicko's. When your ruling class is full of Pedo's you can see why they have such light penalties.


thanks for sharing your thoughts, we have a different perspective on backpage, you can see our research here

I couldn't get my eyes off the page. I really admire the mother's resilience and determination.

so, anarchists: In a world without government, I gather she'd have no choice but to deal with this animal on her own? Hunt him and kill him? What will society look like?


there would be groups to handle things like this, but they wouldnt have the corruption of the state


ah. "groups". Arbitrary groups, doing arbitrary things, unbridled because there would be only arbitrary standards by which they would "enforce" justice.... which, of course, is defined arbitrarily as we see the SJWs doing in America now.

Now let's not continue the 47 year old masturDebation between the anarchos and minarchos. Both sides need to SHOW us something... not talk about anything. Pick a location and build a template. thank you.

really great news. thanks for sharing

I applaud you for your commitment. Thank you for standing up for justice. I did not receive any until I was in my mid 30's and confronted my father for the horrors he imposed. May God be with you.

It is very sad that the system becomes blind when it knows that releasing this delinquent will generate more consequences for more children and more families