August 5, 2002
An Albany man, who doesn't have custody of his daughter, snatched her from the arms of her baby-sitter today. That touched off a police search that ended with the six year old's safe recovery.
At 9:30 Monday morning, 43-year-old James Michael Willeford took the child from a mobile home at Ealum Estates on Highway 19 in Lee County. Police think he snatched the girl because the child's mother was in the process of getting a restraining order against him.
Lee Co. Sheriff's Lt. Chris Anderson said, "She said she wasn't trying to keep him from seeing her. She was trying to restore order into their lives. He got upset because maybe he thought she was trying to keep him from seeing her. He then left and went to the house and took the child from babysitter."
Willeford does not have legal guardianship of the six year old. He was never married to the mother, and did not go to court to legitimize the child.
Willeford is charged with kidnapping, simple battery, burglary and stalking.