In July 1998, Kamiyah Mobley, a tiny and vulnerable 8-hour-old baby was snatched from her devastated mother who had just given birth to her at the University Medical Center in Jacksonville
For the proceeding 18 years Shanara Mobley would freeze and save a slice of cake when each birthday passed, never giving up hope that one day she would be reunited with her child.
As a teen mother of 16, Mobley appeared to be an easy target to Gloria Williams, who had spent around 12 hours scanning the hospital for a baby to snatch. Williams had recently miscarried and in her grief had decided she wanted “her” baby back.
She devised a plot to pose as a healthcare worker, and after befriending Mobley and spending about 5 hours with her, told her that she needed to take the newborn to be checked by a doctor, falsely claiming the baby appeared unwell and feverish.
Williams then promptly disappeared with the infant
Mobley’s mother-in-law, Velma Aiken, even recalls having suspicions just before the kidnapping took place. But still, they had trusted her as the hospital staff didn’t seem to be concerned about her.
As a result, by the time the family had alerted hospital staff that the baby had been gone too long, Williams had been given sufficient time to escape without a trace. It turns out the hospital assumed she was a family member.
A grand scale manhunt that shook the country then took place, but it failed to come up with any conclusive leads – despite 2,500 false potential leads throughout the past nearly 2 decades.
The family even sued the hospital for negligence and received a settlement of $1,500,000.
The case file always remained open in Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and it was late last year that finally 2 leads that would take them to Kamiyah surfaced.
Suspicions were raised when fraudulent documents came to light, that suggested that an 18-year-old girl called Alexis Manigo, living in a small town called Walterboro in South Carolina, had identity documents that were identical to the missing Kamiyah.
Ultimately it was the vigilance of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that cracked the case.
On Friday, 13 January this year, Police immediately contacted Kamiyah to request interviews and DNA tests, and break the shocking news to the teen that she had indeed been kidnapped as a baby.
And the life she had been leading to that point contained a myriad of lies and deception on the part of the kidnapper who had posed as her mother all of those years.
Kamiyah had even believed William’s ex-partner Charles Manigo was her father, and had his surname.
He was heartbroken to learn that he too had been lied to and that the girl he shared custody of wasn’t his real daughter.
Understandably, Kamiyah is torn and in shock since discovering the news, but is also currently focusing on the events as positively as possible.
In an emotional and joyful reunion with her real parents, she called them Mom and Dad as she realized that after all these years they had grieved over her being missing. She is also still torn about her kidnapper, who was the only mother she knew her whole life, and she states that she still loves her.
Williams had always appeared to be the perfect mother to Kamiyah, and she maintains that she wanted for nothing whilst being raised by her. Williams had appeared to be an upstanding member of her community, led a youth group at her local church and even worked as a social worker. Most family and friends never felt suspicious that she could have committed such a devastating crime.
She now faces life imprisonment, and other fraudulent activities that she has taken part in have also come to light. It was found she actually had a large criminal record
Experts have stated that Kamiyah will have a rollercoaster of emotions over the coming years, and must take the processing of events slowly, day by day. She is being cared for by victims advocates who will make sure she is looked after every step of the way to making sense of her new reality.
This case also brings fresh hope to many other parents who have had infants and children abducted without a trace. It means that one day maybe they too will be joyfully reunited in the same way.