5 Things To Know About The Kidnapping Of Kamiyah Mobley
In 1998, a newborn was snatched from her mother's hospital room by a woman disguised as a nurse — and then raised by her abductor.
On July 10, 1998, a woman impersonating a nurse entered a Florida hospital room, took a newborn baby from a teenage mother, and disappeared without a trace.
For nearly two decades, the abductor raised the child as her own until tips from the public and DNA testing led police to the now teenaged victim in South Carolina. However, instead of a reunion with her birth mother, the young woman defended the woman accused of abducting her.
The girl reportedly explained that the woman who abducted her is the only parent she has ever known. The girl’s birth mother reportedly said the heartache caused by that statement made her consider whether it might have been better not knowing what had happened.
What follows are five stunning facts in the case of Kamiyah Mobley, a stolen child who continues to go by Alexis Kelly Manigo, the name given to her by the woman who abducted her.
Kamiyah Mobley Was Eight Hours Old When She Was Abducted
In 1998, Gloria Williams, then 33, walked into University Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida, dressed as a nurse, according to police. Williams reportedly went to a room where Shanara Mobley, then 16, was staying with her newborn baby girl, Kamiyah.
An incident report by police states Williams spoke with Mobley and helped care for the newborn. During their conversation, police said, Williams claimed the baby had a fever. Williams then allegedly wrapped the infant in a blanket and took her out of the hospital.
For the next 18 years, Kamiyah’s whereabouts remained a mystery.
Williams Raised Kamiyah As Her Daughter Until The Truth Came Out — Twice
Because Kamiyah was a newborn, no photographs of her existed. Investigators were forced to circulate a computer-generated image based, in part, on a DNA sample taken from the child at birth. Authorities also issued police sketches of the kidnapping suspect.
After taking the baby home to Walterboro, South Carolina, Williams, according to police, renamed the child “Alexis Kelly Manigo” and created false identification records. Numerous witnesses later stated Williams raised Kamiyah as her daughter, alongside her two older sons. They appeared, to outsiders looking in, a happy family.
Throughout her childhood and adolescence, Kamiyah believed Williams was her biological mother, police said. According to South Carolina's The Post and Courier, Kamiyah did not learn the truth until 2016. Then a junior in high school, Kamiyah had applied for a job and was asked to provide her Social Security number. When she asked Williams for the information, Williams reportedly confessed to abducting her.
According to The Post and Courier, Kamiyah and Williams never discussed the subject again, but the teenager did reportedly search online for information about her kidnapping. [The Post and Courier]
Tips & DNA Tests Led To Kamiyah’s Whereabouts
In 2016, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reported receiving two tips about Kamiyah from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
According to an affidavit by police, the first tip claimed Kamiyah told a friend she was abducted as an infant and listed as a missing person. The second tip reportedly said Williams had admitted to taking Kamiyah from the hospital.
On January 10, 2017, investigators examined a birth certificate and Social Security card used by Alexis Manigo and determined the documents were fake, police said. Authorities then collected a DNA swab from Kamiyah and checked it against the sample taken when she was a newborn. It matched. Soon after, Gloria Williams was arrested and charged with kidnapping. [ABC News]
Gloria Williams Pleaded Guilty To Kidnapping
In February 2018, Gloria Williams, then 52, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and custody interference.
In court, Williams reportedly confessed to dressing as a nurse, abducting Kamiyah, and keeping her away from her biological parents. She also confirmed she told Kamiyah the truth about it in 2016.
Williams told the court she had “no plans” to steal a baby that day. She said she considered, at various times over the years, giving Kamiyah back, but figured she would eventually “get caught.”
Turning to Kamiyah’s parents, Shanara Mobley and Craig Aiken, Williams reportedly apologized and said, “I know I can't give you back the 18 years. If I could, I would."
Speaking directly to Kamiyah, Williams reportedly said, “I never meant to hurt you. I never meant to cause you any harm, any pain, any of that. I'm sorry. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I tried to love you the best way I could."
Williams received 18 years behind bars for kidnapping and five years on the custody charge. Judge Marianne Aho ordered both sentences served concurrently.
In handing down the sentence, Aho, according to CBS News, said, “It’s a very sad case, and many people have suffered.” [CBS News]
Kamiyah Publicly Defended Gloria Williams & Sharona Mobley Reportedly Wishes Her Daughter Had Never Been Found
In January 2017, The New York Daily News reported that Kamiyah has a strong familial bond with Gloria Williams and still refers to her as “Mama.” Kamiyah also reportedly wrote of a deep affection for Williams on Facebook, stating: “She raised me with everything I needed and most of all everything I wanted. My mother is no felon. The ignorant ones won't understand that.”
According to The Florida-Times Union, Mobley expressed profound hurt about the ongoing relationship between her daughter and Williams. In 2018, Mobley reportedly told the newspaper she and Kamiyah had not been communicating, and she had blocked her daughter’s phone number.
“I wish they never would have found her," Mobley reportedly said. "I’m still lost. I don’t have a relationship with my child. What did I gain? Nothing.”
Mobley also reportedly said she wants to move on with her life and practice acceptance, including referring to her daughter by her name of choice — Alexis Manigo.
“If you want to be Alexis, be Alexis," Mobley said in a statement directed to her daughter that was published by The Florida Times-Union. "If you want to be her child, be her child. This is a battle that I can’t keep fighting. This is a battle that nobody is going to win.” [Florida Times-Union]