‘I was tired and gave her away for 1 minute’
It was December 2nd of 1983. Eleanor Williams was making her way from south-east Virginia, where she had been born and lived her entire life, towards Kansas by motor coach. Having never traveled farther than 30 miles from her family’s nine-acre house, Williams’ first stop was just after 200 miles, in downtown Washington. Never could she have ever prepared herself for what was about to happen.
Sitting by the bus terminal with her little baby, April Nicole Williams who as only 3 and a half months and all bundled up in a pink and white snowsuit, 18-year-old Eleanor Williams was sitting tired when a stranger approached her.
Reaching over to look at the infant, she started asking Eleanor question after question. The stranger was African-American, most likely in her twenties, 5ft 3 in and described as slender. She had said she’s traveling west.
She claimed her name was Latoya – which Eleanor now believes is a lie. Not long after introducing herself, Latoya pleaded her is she could hold the baby, just for a minute. Eleanor had thought Latoya was nice, and considering they were so close to each other, she thought it would be more than okay if she held baby April for a while. Besides, she already felt so tired and was sitting warily, she could use a mini break before her venture towards the remaining 1,200 miles to Kansas.
‘I wasn’t happy with my pregnancy’
Eleanor’s mother had passed away when she was only four years old, on a Christmas night. Her father had raised her and her five siblings at their grandparents’ farm in Virginia.
Without a maternal figure in her life, Eleanor didn’t know much about relationships. Not long after dating a guy in her last year of high school, she became pregnant. She had considered an abortion, numerous times.
Not only was she unhappy about her baby, so was the dad. He was a person uninterested in becoming a father, but Williams did not want him around the baby either way.
She has admitted she never saw a future with him and had lost contact with him after the baby’s birth. When Eleanor felt the baby kicking her belly, she said she had felt a special kind of bond, which she would never be willing to give up, and even regretted having considered an abortion.
Her interest was shifted towards another man, a soldier in Kansas who she came to meet through her brother in the Army. His name was Kevin, and they shortly became very close through sending each other letters and calling on the phone. Her trip to Washington, where her heart broke so bad because Latoya took away her baby daughter, was to see Kevin.
‘I wanted to end my life’
The first time when Eleanor Williams was finally ready again to be talking about her baby’s disappearance, was when she was 52. She had tried hard to suppress the bitter past, but it was so unsettling that she needed to let the world know – she still had some hope in her.
She recalls how willing Latoya had been to be assisting Eleanor with the baby, without being asked in the first place. While holding April, she had said she needs a diaper change but insisted that she does it.
This entire conversation was in a positive manner, reassuring Eleanor that this is normal, and nothing would happen. As an 18-year-old, she saw no danger in the situation, and let Latoya bring April to the bathroom. After 10 minutes, and no sign of either, Eleanor began panicking.
She had contacted the police, they had attempted to find a trail of the suspect, knocking door to door, but they had no luck. Now, 34 years later, Eleanor speaks of her depression and suicidal thoughts. She had blamed herself this whole time and had wanted to take her life many times, but there’s something else that stopped her.
After losing April, Eleanor went on to have two more kids, a boy, and a girl, who was told the full story and understood their mother’s pain. Every year, they leave their mother alone on August 17th, April’s birthday. She needs the time on her own, where she says she wonders – if she’s graduated high school or college if she found love if she had kids of her own. Will she ever know?
Pre surveillance era
Had this crime had happened now, in the world of technology, Latoya would have been brought to justice. A camera somewhere would have captured her entering the bathroom, or entering another bus, and it would have brought peace to poor Eleanor.