Former Asst. Police Chief Reunites With Mom Of Kids She Helped Rescue

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Therese Rocco has many memories of her time working with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

She started as a temporary clerk in 1948 and retired as the assistant police chief, the department’s first female assistant chief, in 1994.

Rocco recently wrote her memoir. In it, she recalls one of her fondest memories: When she helped find two young boys, who had been taken from their mother, by the father.

“She walked into my office and she was distraught,” Rocco recalled. “She said, ‘my husband took my children, he wasn’t supposed to.'”

That mother, was Lila McClain, who’s sons Dan and Sam McClain who were just nine and seven at the time.

For nine months, Therese worked, off-duty, to find the boys, creating flyers and contacting school districts and police departments across the country.

“I bet we hit every state in the country,” she said.

In December of 1969, Therese received a call from a school in Seattle. The boys were there.

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Lila McClain flew to Seattle with a police detective to get her sons.

Over the years, Rocco has stayed in touch with Lila, but never met either of the boys until Friday.

More than 47 years later, Sam McClain, now in his 50’s, met the woman he credits for saving his life.

“My cousin texted me and said ‘do you know you’re chapter 30?'” Sam McClain recalled.

Sam remembered the nine months he and his brother spent with their father.

“First he told us that we were on vacation with him, so that was for a week or so and somewhere along the line he told us that she had died and we were going to stay with him,” he said.

“I love her. Oh my god. She worked really, really hard. She really, really did,” Lila McClain said.

One woman’s work to reunite a family, years ago, led to a second re-union, to say thanks.

UPDATE: May 2, 2017 —

City honors Therese Rocco. KDKA’s Dave Crawley reports:

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