Never mess with a momma bear or her cub. When a cub is threatened, the momma bear will go to great lengths to protect them from harm. A Colorado mother showed the FBI that no one could stand in the way of a momma bear that seeks justice. When a man accused of molesting Lydia Lerma’s son fled the country, Lerma went down to Mexico to find the man to bring him to justice.
According to a report on KDVR, Andrew Vanderwal missed a court date in 2017. Vanderwal faced charges for molesting two boys.
Following his arraignment on his charges, Vanderwal posted bond. After he posted his bond, he disappeared, and his attorney could not locate him.
One of Vanderwal’s victims was Lerma’s 6-year-old son. When she found out that Vanderwal fled, she said that she needed to take action.
Lerma took to social media to post a plea to help find the man that assaulted her young son. Through the post, she received a tip from a family in Mexico that had seen Vanderwal near where they live.
After receiving the tip, Lerma provided the information to the FBI. Lerma said that the FBI told her to “cool her jets and let them do their job.”
Not satisfied with this response, Lerma devised a plan to capture Vanderwal in Mexico. Her first plan was to travel to Mexico, meet with local law enforcement, and present the evidence she had about Vanderwal’s case to the Mexican police. However, the FBI didn’t agree with her plan.
When the FBI nixed her first plan, Lerma said she flew down to Mexico to find her son’s perpetrator. After arriving in Mexico, Lerma found Vanderwal in a parked car with children.
Lerman told KDVR,
“The emotions were overwhelming,” Lerma said. There was part of me that wanted to jump out and grab him myself and handle the situation. There was part of me that wanted to kill him.”
Lerma also said, “All I could do honestly was cry. I sat on the floorboard of a rental car, and I was in the back seat and I just sobbed.”
Instead of approaching him, Lerma returned home to Fort Collins, Colorado. After arriving back, she provided FBI with Vanderwal’s location.
Within a month of giving the information to the FBI, authorities located Vanderwal and extradited him to Colorado. When Vanderwal returned to Colorado, he agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors.
Prosecutors in the case say that Vanderwal used his role as a church and youth sports volunteer to gain the trust of families. Through the relationships he established, Vanderwal groomed his victims. Lerma’s husband reported Vanderwal’s abuse of his son to authorities in 2016.
As a part of the plea deal, Vanderwal agreed to the crimes against two victims. Other charges related to other boys were dropped or dismissed.
As a part of the plea, Vanderwal faces 8 to 24 years in prison. Following his release from prison, he faces 20 years to life on parole.
Lerma is pleased that Vanderwal will soon spend years behind bars. However, she called him a coward for running from the courts.
Vanderwal’s sentencing is in March.
A momma bear will always find a way for her child to be protected. Lerma is the perfect example of a mother that will take significant risks to protect their child from harm.
Kudos to Lerma for her bravery and willingness to take action against Vanderwal. Because of her trip to Mexico, Vanderwal will spend years behind bars.
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