Almost 35 years ago, she let a stranger hold her newborn. It has haunted her ever since.
By Paul Duggan
The woman in the bus depot, the perpetrator, was amiable and chatty, Eleanor Williams tearfully told the police.
This was long ago, after Williams, young and naive, had been tragically preyed upon, investigators said. Today, it’s a cold case.
The woman, whose crime in the terminal that day shattered Williams’s psyche, was African American and appeared to be in her 20s, Williams recalled, speaking publicly for the first time in decades about a mystery that has perplexed D.C. police. Williams said the stranger’s perfidy left her so mired in guilt and shame that she later contemplated killing herself.
The woman, about 5-foot-3 and slender, struck up a conversation with Williams in the passenger waiting area, cooing over Williams’s infant daughter. After a while, in the sweetest voice, she asked whether she could hold the child.
Please? Just for a minute?
She said her name was Latoya.
Which might have been a lie. Who knows?
She said she was headed “out west” — maybe also a lie.
Williams was 18 then, on Dec. 2, 1983, a date that haunts her. She had grown up on a nine-acre farm in southeastern Virginia, and she still lived there. Before that morning, when she set out for Kansas by motor coach with her daughter, she had never ventured more than 30 miles from her home, she said....
Latoya, if that was really her name, “came over next to me at some point and just started talking to me,” Williams said recently at her Connecticut apartment, sobbing as she described the awful mistake she made 34 years ago. 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.”
A Stranger Stole Her Baby: Did She Make a “Mistake?”
Brace yourself for a tragic, haunting story from the Washington Post -- and then a bigger question: Almost 35 years ago, she let a stranger …
Brace yourself for a tragic, haunting story from the Washington Post -- and then a bigger question:
My heart was pounding as I read this, for so many reasons.
1) What a tragedy. That poor mom -- and girl.
2) This story is the rarest kind of story at all -- even the cops say it.
3) This is the saddest line: "...sobbing as she described the awful mistake she made 34 years ago." But:
SHE DID NOT MAKE A MISTAKE! A crime was committed by someone and she and her daughter are its victims.
Would the Post say I made a mistake if i got into a cab and the cab drove off a cliff? Was I an idiot to get into a cab, considering that 99.99% of cab rides do NOT end in plunges?
Just phrasing it as a "mistake" reinforces the idea that anyone who trusts a kind stranger is a sap who is going to regret it the rest of their lives.
So I am very sorry for this woman. I do hope that publicity somehow "shakes the tree" and brings her child back. But the whole piece reminds me of the wise saying someone once sent to me: "If you see it on the news, it's probably something you DON't have to worry about, because it is so exceedingly rare." - L