‘I blame myself every minute’: She let a stranger hold her baby. She’s still looking for her almost 35 years later

In Dec. 1983, Eleanor Williams, the mother a beautiful baby daughter, made an error in judgement that has caused her grief for 35 years. When a friendly, outgoing woman sitting next to her at a Washington D.C. train station asked to hold her baby, Williams obliged. She hasn’t seen her daughter since.

The Washington Post reports that the incident happened in Washington D.C. as a naive and trusting Williams, just 18 at the time, was with her 3-month-old daughter, April, at the old Trailways depot at 12th and I streets NW, where she was preparing for a three-hour stop before traveling 1,200 miles. She was weary and tired when a woman named “Latoya” approached her.

“[Latoya] came over next to me at some point and just started talking to me,” Williams recalled while talking to the Washington Post in a recent interview. “[She] was being friendly, asking me lots of questions. Like, ‘Where are you going?’ And, ‘How old is your baby?’ She was nice, you know? Then she was like, ‘Do you mind if I hold her?’ And I was sitting right next to her, right there, so I said okay, and I let her.”

Williams, now 52, explained that Latoya (which was not likely the woman’s real name), said April needed her diaper changed and offered to help Williams out.

“She said: ‘Oh, I’ll take her to the bathroom. You look tired.’ And I was skeptical, like, “Well . . . okay, I guess.’ Because I was tired. And I thought about it, but I had already said okay, and she had already got up and taken her to the bathroom. And then, I don’t know, about 10 minutes later, when she didn’t come back, I started getting nervous.”

It was the last time Williams saw her baby girl.

Police have been trying to solve the case for almost 35 years, and although it’s now a cold case and hope is slim, there is still a chance with media exposure, according to Cmdr. Leslie Parsons, head of the D.C. police criminal investigations division.

“About the only thing we can do proactively at this point is put it out in the media,” Parsons said. “Hopefully someone will see it, and they’ll call us.”

Williams was initially hesitant to talk about her story again. She explained she lived in Connecticut now, her “safe haven,” where she’s tried for years to block out the painful memory. Yet, with the explosion of viral stories on the Internet and with news being shared faster than ever before, Williams decided to share her story with the Washington Post.

“I blame myself every minute, right up to this minute. It’s been 34 years, and it’s not something that’s over. I deal with it every day, whether I talk about it or not. . . . It’s always on my mind. It’s always: ‘How could you be so stupid? Why? Why did you do it?’ ”

The guilt, at one point in the past, made Williams contemplate suicide. She has two other children now, both grown, that gave her strength to pull through.

D.C. police sketch of the suspect [Photo:NCMEC]
Police are hoping the following tips may lead to a break in the case.

  • April was born Aug. 17, 1983, and may have the ‘Leo’ astrological side
  • She has a small, straight line birthmark on the top of her left wrist
  • She would be 34 years old today
  • The suspect, ‘Latoya,’ have a sister named Natisha or Latisha
  • The suspect is a black female with a dark complexion and spots on her face
  • The suspect could also go by the name ‘Rene’
  • The suspect may be in her 50s today, and has a mole or birthma

“I always spend April’s birthday by myself,” Williams said. “I don’t want to be around my other kids, because that’s me and April’s day. I sit and just think about her, hold on to her picture, cry. And I just wonder what she could be doing.”

Anyone with any information is urged to contact the Washington D.C. Metro PD or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST.

[Feature Photo: April Williams/NCMEC]