Two months after Eleanor Williams graduated from high school in Virginia, she gave birth. April Williams was born on August 17, 1983, and at 17-years-old, Eleanor admittedly did not want to be a mother. Almost immediately after giving birth, she lost contact with April’s father. He, too, was a teenager and reportedly made it clear that he did not want anything to do with fatherhood. Still, Eleanor was determined to do her best as a mother, but a series of unfortunate circumstances would lead to a mystery that has lasted decades.
“I wasn’t happy about it,” Eleanor told The Washington Post in 2018 about discovering she was having a baby. “I mean, I was 17 years old! I didn’t want to have a baby. I thought about having an abortion, but I decided not to. . . . There’s something about when babies start moving and kicking. You know there’s something inside you, and it’s like a bonding. It’s just some kind of way special.”
When April was three-and-a-half months old, Eleanor was traveling to see her new boyfriend. The teen’s brother was reportedly in the Army, stationed in Kansas, and he told his friend Kevin about his sister. The pair became penpals during Eleanor’s pregnancy and after Baby April arrived, Eleanor wanted to finally meet Kevin face to face. He sent her money for a bus ticket and on December 3, 1983, during the holiday season, the mother-daughter pair left Suffolk, Virginia, and were making their way to Kansas.
Their trip would land them in a Washington, D.C. bus terminal where they had a three-hour layover. While there, the young mother was greeted by a Black woman with spots on her face, a dark complexion, short and wavy dark hair, who and about 5 feet 3 inches tall and fawned over Baby April. She struck up a conversation with Eleanor and was described as being gentle and kind. The slim-built stranger, who claimed her name was Latoya, told the teen mom that she was heading “out west.”
Latoya “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.” At that point, Eleanor had been traveling alone with a baby, hadn’t slept in 24 hours, and still had another 1,200 miles to go. Latoya seemed nice, so Eleanor didn’t believe that there would be a problem.
Then, Latoya told Eleanor that April needed to have her diaper changed and kindly offered to take on the task for the tired mom. Eleanor was apprehensive but agreed. That was the last time she would see Baby April or Latoya.
“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 ten minutes later, when she didn’t come back, I started getting nervous.”
During the investigation, Eleanor was riddled with questions about her supposed involvement with her child’s disappearance. There were accusations that she sold or gave away Baby April because she didn’t want to be a mother. Some believed she made up the story. Eleanor endured tough questioning and a polygraph test. Residents in her Virginia neighborhood said cruel things about her. She was stared at and gossiped about. She was grieving the loss of her infant but was a spectacle to be ridiculed by those around her.
“I just couldn’t deal with everybody looking at me and talking about me and having something to say about my situation,” she stated. “It was
always, ‘She gave her baby away.’ People were always whispering that. Or, ‘She’s just not fit to have a child.’ I mean, the way people are, they’re cruel. They’re mean. Until something happens to them.”
Eleanor would finally meet her Kansas beau, the soldier named Kevin, when she went to visit him about a month after April Williams disappeared. He reportedly met her at the bus station, but their relationship was short-lived.
“All I needed him for was to have a baby to replace April,” said Eleanor. “He knew the only reason for me visiting him was because I wanted to get pregnant again because I wanted another April. I thought it was going to make me feel better. I thought it would make it hurt less. But actually, all it did was make it hurt more.”
Not long after her visit, Eleanor and Kevin reportedly stopped communicating and their child was born in September 1984, almost a year after April was abducted.
“The suspect could have a sister named Latisha or Natisha,” the police department said of Baby April’s abductor. “The suspect could have the astrological sign of ‘Leo.’ The suspect is described as [having] . . . a dark brown complexion and spots on her face. Her ears were pierced with two holes in each ear.” They added, “She could go by Rene or Rene Latoya.”
Investigators believe that this “Latoya” took the child to raise her as her own and that April Williams is somewhere, alive, not knowing the true nature of her birth and abduction. Hours after April was taken by Latoya, the woman was seen carrying an infant. Witnesses told police that she got off at Rhode Island Avenue and 18th Street NE, near the Prince George’s County line on a Metrobus.
Police scoured the neighborhood going door to door, but no new information materialized.
“There were times when I was younger when I wanted to commit suicide, I just felt so bad and so guilty,” Eleanor told WP. “But my other kids were always my strength. Like, what would they do if anything ever happened to me? I remember coming home one night after work and thinking, ‘I could just drive off the road into a tree, and nobody would ever know that I wanted to do this.’ And then I thought about my other kids.”
At the time of her disappearance, April Williams was 2 feet long and weighed 11 pounds. She had black/dark brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a pink-and-white snowsuit with a blue sleeper that had a red number 1 on the front left side. Her middle name is “Nicole” and her nickname was “Nikki.” She has a small birthmark on top of her left wrist in a straight line about an inch long. April would be 38-years-old at the time of this publication.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Missing Persons Unit at (202) 576-6768 or (202) 727-9099, or their local authorities. The agency case number is 568245.
Please share this story about April Williams to help bring her home after all of these years. She is our sister and her life matters.
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