A Northeast Florida woman is fighting to get back a cell phone, which contains photos of her young daughter who passed away from cancer. The problem? Heather Williams said a woman claiming to have the phone is demanding money for its return.
Williams’ daughter, Aaliyah, passed away from Ewing’s Sarcoma two years ago. She was just 10 years old.
First Coast News has covered Aaliyah's battle with cancer in the past.
“There’s nothing worse than watching your child fight for their life and not being able to do anything. Not being able to fix it,” Williams said.
When Aaliyah was diagnosed at age 8, she was given just a 30 percent chance of survival. She started documenting the little time she had left with her daughter.
“You’re faced with the reality upfront that your child might not make it,” Williams said. “And you’re faced with the reality that all you have or all you might have are memories.”
Some of those memories lived on her boyfriend’s cell phone. About two weeks ago, he misplaced it while at work in Orange Park. He reported it to the mobile carrier and was sent a replacement.
Then Sunday, they got a phone call.
“She wanted to know how important the phone was,” Williams said.
Williams told First Coast News the woman on the other line claimed to have bought the phone from someone at a bar near where Williams and her boyfriend work.
"She then told us that she had paid $100 for the phone and she would give it back to us for $100,” Williams said.
The woman refused to budge, even when told about the photos of Aaliyah, Williams said.
"How can someone exploit a mother’s grief?” she said. “A child that has passed away, irreplaceable memories…[how could they] even think about charging someone for those memories.”
When First Coast News tried to call and text the number, no one answered.
“My frustration comes with the fact that they’re irreplaceable,” Williams said. “They are pictures of my daughter that I can’t get back.”
But Williams isn’t fighting this battle alone. A Facebook page she used to chronicle Aaliyah’s journey racked up more than 7,500 likes. Many of the followers pressured the mystery woman to return the phone.
As of Wednesday evening, the phone still had not been returned.