Brandon Moore rushed to the hospital with what doctors thought was a brain aneurysm.
Brandon’s wife, Leone, went with him to the emergency room, leaving their three children at home in Lorena, Texas. When she texted a group of friends to say Brandon was in the ER, one replied to ask if he could check on the kids. Leone said no, but he didn’t listen.
Instead, Sean Foster went to the Moores’ home on June 24, 2014 and molested their 14-year-old daughter, Madalyn.
“This piece of crap found out I was in the emergency room, drove over to my house while my daughter was sleeping and molested her in her bed,” Brandon, a former Marine, told The Daily Beast.
The Moore family, including the now-16-year-old Madalyn, asked to be identified by name in this story.
“This happens a lot more than we think it does,” she said on Tuesday, adding that she’d like to use her experience of being abused to help others. “It always felt wrong to me, but I would always convince myself that it was OK. I’d encourage parents to really talk to their kids seriously about it.”
Two days after Brandon went to the hospital (diagnosis: muscle spasm), Madalyn was with Foster again—working for him at his pool company. He dropped her off at a doctor’s office for an annual physical and told the nurse that he wanted to go back with the 14-year-old for the exam, and he threw a “tantrum” when she said no.
Foster didn’t realize, though, that Madalyn’s mother was already there, waiting in an exam room. The nurse told Leone what Foster wanted to do.
“The nurse was pretty upset about it,” Brandon said.
About 15 minutes later, Madalyn suddenly told Leone about something bad Foster did.
“‘Mom, Sean texts when he drives.’”
“‘What else does he do?’” Leone asked.
“‘He touches me.’”
Madalyn proceeded to tell her mother about sexual abuse that began at age 9, taking place in her bed, in the shower, in Foster’s pickup truck, and elsewhere.
“As soon as you’re in the situation, it’s so much different than you think it’s going to be,” Madalyn said, adding that she was worried about what would happen if she told her parents. But “things had gotten really bad that day. He told me he wanted to have sex with me the next day.”
“I guess I just felt… like, ‘This is the time.’”
Brandon and Leone went to the police that afternoon, but officers told them it could take months to investigate the alleged crimes.
“We thought they were going to go arrest him right away,” Brandon said. “I was shocked. I thought for sure they’d go put him in jail and hold him. But they said in cases like this, ‘If we don’t do our homework, he could walk.’”
Brandon stayed up all night turning the situation over in his mind before he hatched a plan:
Pretend to be 14-year-old Madalyn, text Foster from her phone, lure him to the house, record him trying to prey on the girl and then “put my hands on him.”
“In the morning, I went to my wife and said, ‘Go take the kids to our pastor’s house.’” After some negotiating, he finally told her, “‘I just have to do this,’ and she said, ‘What if you get in trouble?’”
“‘Well, I won’t kill him then,’” Brandon replied.
He didn’t mean for it to be a trap necessarily, Brandon said. (He also said that he’d never even seen NBC’s To Catch a Predator.)
Brandon locked the front door, turned on the shower, and sat in his son’s dark room. Brandon texted Foster from Madalyn’s phone, telling him that “she” would be in the shower and to pick “her” up for work in 15 minutes. Foster called Brandon to make sure he wasn’t at home, then drove over.
“If he wasn’t a creep or a jerk, he would’ve pulled into the driveway and honked or knocked on the door,” Brandon said.
Instead, Foster tried the front door and found it was locked, so he went in through the back.
Foster first approached Madalyn’s room before hearing the shower running in the bathroom.
“I thought you showered yesterday,” he said as he pulled the curtain back.
Brandon burst into the bathroom and his phone captured what happened next.
“What the fuck are you doing?! What have you done to her?!” Brandon howls.
“I haven’t done anything to her!” Foster shrieks.
“You fucking get down right now! You fucking touch a 14-year-old girl! While I’m in the fucking hospital! You’re lucky I don’t fucking kill you!”
Foster made a run for it and the phone picked up the ensuing fight.
“Oh my God, you broke my fucking glasses!” the child molester whined.
“It was between four and five minutes that I had to keep taking him down” until police arrived, Brandon told The Daily Beast. “He shoved me off of him and went running to the front door, so I tackled him from behind and choked him and kneed him in the face until police got there.
“I beat him up pretty bad,” Brandon remembered. “By the time police arrived, my foot was swelling up from kicking him.”
Leone, who was watching her own house from a neighbor’s window two doors down, had called the cops, who arrested Foster on the spot.
This audio was played during Foster’s trial two weeks ago in Texas. A jury sentenced him to serve 55 years in prison on six charges, including burglary, three counts of indecency with a child by contact, and two counts of indecency with a child by exposure. Foster was also fined $40,000, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Lorena Police Chief Tom Dickson told The Daily Beast that Brandon’s actions had “a dramatic effect” on the speed of the case, even possibly sealing up a conviction.
“It was no longer possible to conduct an initial non-accusatory interview,” Dickson explained. “We had to do something right then… It was just one piece of the trial, but I certainly think the jurors took [Foster’s] actions that day into account.”
Madalyn heard the recording for the first time on Tuesday night, she said, adding that she didn’t know her father “could get that angry at someone.”
“I’m really glad he did it,” she added. “I feel like it really proves that he’s guilty.”
Still, “It’s hurtful to hear Sean keep denying that he didn’t do it.”
Brandon says that he didn’t realize at the time the recording would have done so much.
“In whatever way that it helped, that’s amazing… In no way did I want attention because of this,” Brandon said, choking back tears. “At least I got to do something. I wish I could’ve done more.”
Leone asked him not to do something he might be prosecuted for.
“When your wife says, ‘Don’t make the kids lose their dad today,’ you listen.”
How did Brandon not kill the man who had been abusing his daughter for so long?
“Until you’re there, you don’t know what you would do. It took a lot of restraint for me not to,” he said.
Chief Dickson noted that others definitely shouldn’t try this at home, so to speak.
“We certainly don’t recommend this. When people are under high emotions and stress, sometimes they don’t make the best judgment call… We certainly could’ve been working an aggravated assault out of this or possibly a homicide.
“Of course, I understand. Being a father myself, if my daughter’s affected, you want justice and you want immediate justice,” Dickson added. “But obviously I would’ve rather him waited for the police to do the investigation.”
Once the investigation began in earnest, Madalyn was subjected to forensic interviews, meetings with prosecutors, and nearly two years of waiting for the trial to begin.
“Every time she had to go to the advocacy center [for investigative interviews], she would tell us: ‘I don’t think I can do this,’ her father said. “And every time I would take her, she would develop this incredible strength.”
During the trial, which started on April 11, Madalyn’s parents learned a lot more about Foster’s abuse.
“There was so much evidence,” Brandon said. “It just blew my mind and my wife’s.”
Foster had groomed Madalyn by employing her and buying her gifts from rings to a cocktail dress (made by fashion label No Boundaries). Some of the gifts were kept at Foster’s home so Madalyn’s parents wouldn’t see them.
“We were neighbors and then he befriended our family and was offering to help with things. He really manipulated me and my wife,” Brandon said through tears. “I’m embarrassed and ashamed to say that, and it’s really made me wary of trusting anybody again.”
Even still, Moore said the trial was the “toughest week of my life,” especially because his children “had to go in there and testify in front of this guy.”
“I felt ashamed and dirty and I felt worthless,” Madalyn said during the trial. “I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was afraid they wouldn’t believe me.”
Madalyn’s entire family was set to testify, so they could not be in the courtroom with her when she took the stand. If facing her abuser wasn’t hard enough, Madalyn had to do it with a 101-degree fever and strep throat (a bucket was by the stand in case she got sick).
“His ego is beyond compare,” Brandon Moore said. “He’s going to struggle mightily in jail.”
During her victim impact statement, Madalyn told Foster: “‘You can’t hurt me anymore.’
“Once I had time to think about it, once it was over, I realized: It’s over but it should have never happened,” she said on Tuesday. “Going back to school was hard.”
Moore said, “She’s doing much better now since the trial has been over, just being heard and having what she considers justice.”
“She’s my new hero,” he continued, his voice breaking. “She’s amazing.”