EAST PEORIA, Ill. - Every day all over America, postal workers complete their appointed rounds without much notice. But in one Midwest town, they turned into heroes.
Christy Perfetti has been delivering mail in East Peoria, Ill., for 23 years. Almost a decade along this same route.
For the most part, she says every day is like every other. Except for one day last year.
Perfetti was pulling into the post office parking lot when she saw an older man taking a young boy behind a shed. She had a gut instinct something was wrong.
"The boy was telling me something by the look on his face," she said. "He's telling me something is not right."
So Perfetti went inside and got her supervisor Stacie Pence-Bailey to come out.
"Well, they were walking behind the shed and they stopped ... and I asked him, are you okay? He just shook his head ... and I asked him if he wanted to stay with me," said Pence-Bailey. The boy nodded and Pence-Bailey took his arm and pulled him away from the man. Then she asked if anyone had a cell phone.
A photo taken by mail carrier Steve Plunkett as the man was running away allowed police to take a mug shot later.
"He started walking between these two buildings, so I got my phone out and just snapped a couple photos of him real fast," said Plunkett.
Turns out 52-year-old Teddy Meyer was a registered sex offender. A surveillance video less than an hour before the abduction shows him approaching a group of students at a nearby school. Police say it wasn't the first time he had tried to take a child. He's now serving a life sentence.
Recently, the mail carriers got a national award recognizing their heroism. But it was something else that came to them in the mail that meant a whole lot more.
"The grandmother sent us a really nice card," said Pence-Bailey, tearing up explaining that it said, "just thanks for being there."
Being there for someone you've never met. It's a message worth delivering.