Joe Stradt is a hero in his mother’s eyes. Julie Stradt said today her son, Joe, 16, is “my hero.”  The Geneseo youth is credited for leading his half-sister, Megan Edwards, 3, to safety while his mother was held hostage at gun point by Gerald J. Edwards.


Joe Stradt is a hero in his mother’s eyes.

Julie Stradt said today her son, Joe, 16, is “my hero.”  The Geneseo youth is credited for leading his half-sister, Megan Edwards, 3, to safety while his mother was held hostage at gun point by Gerald J. Edwards.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of Dec. 11 in a second floor apartment on State Street in downtown Geneseo.     Edwards reportedly broke into the Stradt apartment about 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 11.

“I saw he had a gun, and I said to him my kids were there,” Stradt said.  “Gerry said to wake them up and tell them to leave.  Joe was already awake and was on the phone with 911 in the back bedroom, doing the right thing. He did not want to leave me and he said to Gerry, ‘Please don’t hurt my mom.’

“Joe told Gerry not to hurt himself and he said, ‘You don’t have to do this,’” Stradt said.  “I told Joe to take Megan and leave.  He wanted Gerry to let me go, too, but that was not going to happen.

“I was so thankful when Joe carried Megan down those steps. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but at that moment I didn’t care.  I was just thankful that my kids were not going to be there.”

Stradt was held hostage until about 12:15 p.m. on Dec. 11, she said, adding, “At any given time if I had been able to get out the door, I would have.  That didn’t happen.”

She said Edwards refused to let her leave the apartment.

“I am so thankful for that moment when I was able to grab the gun when Gerry had set it down on a table.  I grabbed it and threw it out the window,” she said.  “I went straight to the door which was barricaded and I was able to kick the barricade down.  With some struggle, I was able to get the door open and run down the stairs.

“I didn’t want to kill or hurt him with the gun, so I made the decision to throw it out the window. I know if I hadn’t gotten out the door at that point I could have been hurt,” Stradt said. “I took my chances knowing that it was possible he could have kept me from going out the door.”

She looks back on what she did as “a leap of faith in that moment,” thinking she would get out and she did.

“My son is my hero.  Joe did all the right things under all that stress,” she said.  “What scared me was when he hesitated to leave in the beginning, but he knew he had to do that for Megan and he did.”

Her eyes filled with tears and Stradt said, “I hope Gerry can get help where he is.  I’m not willing to comment on the whole story at this time. I need time to heal and move forward.  But I pray that there will be a ministry where he is that will reach his heart and soul.

“I just thank God that Joe was there with us in the apartment.  If he hadn’t been, that baby probably would not have been able to leave.  I know he (Gerry) wouldn’t have allowed me to take her down.”

Stradt also praised the Geneseo Police Department for how they handled the situation.
“They did an outstanding job,” she said.

Members of law-enforcement agencies throughout Henry County assisted in the standoff situation.
In addition to Joe and Megan, Stradt also has a daughter, Kristen Stradt, a freshman at Western Illinois University, Macomb. 

 “Through that whole ordeal, I wanted to get free for my kids, and I didn’t know if that was going to happen. I know many people were praying for me and obviously it worked,” said Stradt.