The baby girl who was abducted from a Florida hospital 18 years ago has spoken out and defended her abductor, even labeling the woman as her “mother”.
The girl, Kamiyah Mobley, now aged 18, was found alive and well in South Carolina living under the name Alexis Manigo.
Baby Kamiyah was taken from her mother’s arms in July 1998, by a woman dressed as a nurse.
The teen has since taken to social media to defend Williams writing, “My mother raised me with everything I needed and most of all everything I wanted,” she wrote.
“My mother is no felon.”
Jacksonville police were finally led to South Carolina by a tip and found an 18-year-old girl living there who had the same date of birth as Kamiyah but a different name.
“Some further investigation revealed fraudulent documents had been used to establish that young woman’s identity,” Sheriff Mike Williams told reporters at a press conference on Friday.
Investigators obtained a DNA sample earlier this week, the sample was tested and confirmation was received on Thursday night that the woman was in fact Ms Mobley, he said.
A 51-year-old woman, Gloria Williams, was arrested at the house where the girl was living, and charged with kidnapping and interfering with custody.
The pair came face-to-face in a courtroom just hours later, where Ms Mobley told the woman accused of abducting her that she “loved her” and was “praying for her,” local media reported.
The case captivated the US when the baby, who was only eight hours old, was taken from the hands of her 16-year-old mother, Shanara Mobley.
Family members have spoken of their relief and said they got to meet the long-lost child again through a video call on Friday.
Kamiyah’s paternal grandmother, Velma Aiken, who was at the hospital at the time of the abduction, said the conversation was short but that the teen was “alive, well and looking good”.
“[She] doesn’t act like we’re brand new people. She acts like she’s been talking to us for a long time,” Ms Aiken told New York Daily News, adding that Kamiyah is planning to visit the family soon.
The 66-year-old said she, her son Craig and Kamiyah’s mum Shanara, were called into Jacksonville on Friday for an update on the case and had all “broken down in tears” after hearing the alleged perpetrator had been found.
Police said they would not be releasing the name Kamiyah has lived under for all these years “in the interests of reducing any further trauma to the young woman”.
“She had an inclination beginning probably a couple of months ago that she may have been involved in this in some way... So we were able to deliver that [verification] to her today,” Sheriff Mike Williams said.
“She is taking this as well as you can imagine. We have victim advocates up there, she has a lot to process.”
News break - January 14