7 Heroic & Memorable Moms Who Battled Bad Guys To Get Justice

We already know that moms are the best, but here are seven truly awesome and heroic women who inspire us.

May 09, 2019
By: Catherine Townsend

Photo By: Katia Sastre [Wikimedia Commons]

Photo By: Joyce McClain; Philip Scott Fournier [Police Handout]

Photo By: Mug shot of Ethan Nickerson [Highlands County Sheriff]

Photo By: Jicheng Liu [Police Handout]

Photo By: Sheila Wysocki [Getty Images]

Photo By: Stephen Aguilar [Salinas Police Department]

Photo By: Mug shot of Dustin Stewart [Grady County Sheriff's Office]

Hero Mom Saves Mother’s Day By Shooting Armed Suspect Outside School

SUZANO, BRAZIL — A gunman who targeted a group of families gathered for a Mother's Day celebration in 2018 at a school in Suzano, Brazil, was fatally shot by a hero mom.

Katia Sastre, a police officer who was off duty at the time, was praised by local officials for her bravery, the New York Post reports. In video footage, the shooter can be seen approaching with his gun drawn outside the private school where parents were waiting.

Sastre can be seen pointing her gun at him and shooting him, and then pushing the wounded suspect down to the ground and holding him at gunpoint with her foot on his back.

The suspect was named as Elivelton Neves Moreira, 21. Police say the suspect planned to rob a group of families before he was stopped in his tracks.

He later died in the hospital. In 2018, Sastre was elected Federal Deputy for Sao Paolo. [The New York Post]

Mom Spends 38 Years Helping Solve Her Daughter’s Murder Case

EAST MILLINOCKET, ME — Almost 40 years ago, Pam McLain’s 16-year-old daughter, Joyce, went out jogging — and never came back.

Joyce left for her run on August 8, 1980. Her body was found two days later behind a soccer field at her high school in East Millinocket, Maine. She was mostly naked, and her skull had been partially crushed.

Police interviewed many people of interest over the years, but eventually the case went cold.

But Pam never gave up. She continued to pressure the authorities and to keep the case in the public eye as much as possible over the years, even raising the funds to have her daughter's body exhumed. Over the years, she has also worked with other parents of murdered children.

Joyce’s case — and Pam’s battle to get answers — were the subject of an episode of Investigation Discovery’s People Magazine Investigates.

In 2018, Philip Scott Fournier, a registered sex offender, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for Joyce’s murder. “We pushed, we solved it…. We are so full of peace,” Pam told People. [People, CentralMaine.com, BangorDailyNews.com]

Watch the Murder Among Friends episode of Investigation Discovery's People Magazine Investigates on ID GO now!

Florida Mom Uses Pizza Order To Save Herself & Her 3 Kids From Hostage Situation

AVON PARK, FL — A central Florida woman who reportedly sent a request for emergency help in an online pizza order, asking employees to call 911 because she was being held hostage, was hailed as a hero.

After allegedly having been held hostage all day, Cheryl Treadway was able to convince her captor that she needed to order pizza to feed her kids. She wrote “Please help. Get 911 to me” and “911hostage help!” in the comments section of her pizza order.

“Under the comments section, there was a message asking them to send help and call 911 as they were being held hostage," the Highlands County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Employees at the Avon Park Pizza Hut knew that Treadway was a regular customer — so they became concerned and called police.

Highlands County sheriff's deputies say they went to the home and found Treadway holding a young child and her boyfriend, 26-year-old Ethan Nickerson, holding a knife. Reportedly, there were two other young children in the house.

Nickerson surrendered to police without incident. He is being held on a $45,000 bond and has been charged with aggravated assault with a weapon, battery, kidnapping, and obstruction of justice. [The Wichita Eagle, ABC News]

Mom Hunting Craigslist Stroller Thief Helped Bring Down Million-Dollar Crime Ring

CHICAGO, IL — An Illinois mom went after the thief who stole her daughter’s stroller, and ended up helping to bring down a million-dollar crime ring.

In 2012, the woman, identified only as Tia, reported her daughter’s stroller as stolen after a thief swiped it from her from porch, according to Today. After spotting a Craigslist ad for a stroller that looked like hers, Tia helped police set up a sting. She posed as the buyer, and the suspect who had stolen the stroller from Tia was arrested when he showed up to make the sale.

After the arrest, Tia’s family began reporting harassment — both on- and offline — and the family said that everything from unordered food deliveries to male prostitutes began showing up at their house.

Eventually, prosecutors followed the evidence to a Chicago townhouse that was filled with over $1,000,000 in stolen property, according to police. The stolen goods included over 200 strollers.

Jicheng Liu was charged with 24 felony indictments for burglary, cyber-stalking, and other crimes. He pleaded not guilty.

He is serving eight years in prison. He initally faced up to 14 years behind bars, but got credit for time served. [Today, NBC Chicago]

Stay-At-Home Mom Became A PI To Crack A Cold Case

NASHVILLE, TN — A stay-at-home mother of two in Nashville, Tennessee, made national headlines after she become a private investigator and helped solve her college roommate’s murder.

Sheila Wysocki met Angie Samota in 1982 on their first day of college in Dallas, Texas. They became fast friends, and shared a room. In 1984, Samota was brutally raped and murdered — and her case went unsolved for over two decades.

Sheila Wysocki told People that she made the decision to investigate the crime in 2004 after seeing Angie’s ghost standing at the foot of her bed. “I know it sounds crazy,” Wysocki said. “I promise you that it sounds crazy to me.”

Wysocki was motivated to make tracking own Samota’s killer her life’s mission. The Dallas Police Department ignored her, Wysocki said, but she remained determined to get answers. Four years and hundreds of phone calls later, her perseverance paid off when she was able to convince detectives to finally find crime-scene evidence they had claimed was lost. The DNA from this evidence led them to serial rapist Donald Bess, who was later convicted and sentenced to death in 2010.

Wysocki now uses her skills to investigate other cold cases. [People]

For more on this case, watch the Coed Killer episode of Investigation Discovery's Betrayed on ID GO now!

Moms Launch Website To Help Solve Cold Case Murders

SALINAS, CA — Family members of murder victims in Salinas, California, have launched a website that they hope will generate leads in some of the area’s many unsolved cases.

Debbie Aguilar’s son Stephen was killed in a drive-by shooting 15 years ago while on his way home from a 7-11. His murder is still unsolved. She is one of the mothers who have banded together to try to get justice.

The website, ColdCaseCampaign.com, is run by mothers of murder victims, and features the stories of 21 Monterey County open cases. According to Salinas Police Department records, the city had 325 unsolved murders and 215 cold cases as of 2018.

In 2018, the website began charging a fee of $19.99 per month. Aguilar says that the group will use the money to hire professionals to review case files — and hopefully, to create a reward fund to help motivate people to give them information.

“We know that money talks. And when they know there are resources out there, they’re going to want to help us,” Aguilar said.

Police say that they will follow up on any leads that the website generates. [KAZU]

Brave Young Mom Shoots Intruder To Protect Her Baby

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — A young Oklahoma widow shot and killed an intruder to protect her three-month-old baby.

In 2012, Sarah McKinley, just 18, was grieving the loss of her husband, who had just passed away on Christmas day after a battle with cancer.

McKinley told police that a man named Justin Martin stopped by her house the day of her husband's funeral, and a few days before the shooting, and said that he was a neighbor who wanted to say hello — but she did not let him in her home.

On New Year’s Eve, Martin came back with a second man, Dustin Stewart. Martin was carrying a hunting knife this time, and began trying to break into her home. McKinley called 911 and grabbed her 12-gauge shotgun. With her baby in her arms, McKiney called for help and asked the 911 operator if she could shoot the intruder.

"I've got two guns in my hand — is it okay to shoot him if he comes in this door?" she can be heard asking the dispatcher in a recording of the call. "I'm here by myself with my infant baby, can I please get a dispatcher out here immediately?"

After Martin kicked in the door, McKinley shot and killed the 24-year-old. "It was either going to be him or my son. And it wasn't going to be my son. There's nothing more dangerous than a woman with a child," she told ABC.

Police called the shooting justified. Stewart later turned himself in, and ultimately pleaded "no contest" on charges of conspiracy to commit burglary. [ABC News]