WALTERBORO, S. C. – Neighbors knew them for years as a church-going mother and her polite teenage daughter before the police flooded Gloria Williams’ home in this small, quiet South Carolina town.
Williams, 51, was arrested on kidnapping charges. Then came the real shocker: the Police has identified the victim as 18-year-old woman, Williams had raised as her daughter. The researchers said DNA analysis showed they had been stolen as a baby from a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.
“She was not an abused child or a child that got in trouble,” a stunned Joseph Jenkins said the young woman, who lived on the other side of the street. “But she grew up with a lie for 18 years.”
COLD CASE CRACKED: NEWBORN KIDNAPPED IN 1998 FOUND ALIVE AND WELL IN SC
She grew up as Alexis Manigo, but has now learned that she was born as Kamiyah Mobley. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams described her Friday as being in good health, but emotionally overwhelmed.
Tesha Stephens, a cousin of Willams’, said the young woman had a lot to think about.
“She’s likely to have to use this day-to-day,” Stephens told reporters outside Williams’ house.
Mobley got to spend a few emotional moments with Williams, who is also charged with interference with custody, after her arrest. She called out: “Momma” by the caged window of a secured door after Williams waived extradition to Florida, according to WXJT-TV, which posted a video online.
Meanwhile, the young woman birth of the family cried “tears of happiness” after a detective told them that their baby was found. Within a few hours on Friday, they were able to reconnect via FaceTime.
“She looks just like her daddy,” her paternal grandmother, Velma Aiken of Jacksonville, told The Associated Press after they were able to see each other for the first time. “They act as if they are talking to us all the time. They told us that they would be here soon to see us.”
Mobley was only eight hours old when she was taken from her young mother by a woman posing as a nurse in a University Medical Center. A massive search ensued, with helicopters circling the hospital and the city is on high alert. Thousands of tips came in over the years, but they were gone.
THE WEEK IN PHOTOS
A few months ago, the young woman “had a tendency” that they have been kidnapped, the sheriff said. The authorities will not say why they suspected.
The case broke thanks to a tip received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said Robert Lowery, a center vice-president. He would not say who the tip came.
But the centre quickly reach out of the cold case detectives at the sheriff’s office, and Mobley with a swab of her cheek for DNA analysis showed that the contest, the sheriff said.
“This is something new for all of us,” said Stephens, Williams’ cousin.
The centre has tracked 308 child abductions since 1983 by nonfamily members in the USA. Of those cases, 12 were still missing at the end of last month. That is now a number of smaller ones.
The woman’s guidance, the sheriff said. Meanwhile, Aiken is pleased to know that they can speak with each other as much as they want.
“I have always prayed, ‘Don’t let me die before I see my grandbaby’,” said Aiken. “My prayer was answered.”
The family never forgot the little girl ripped from her mother’s arms that day in 1998.
Her mother, Shanara Mobley, told the Florida Times-Union newspaper, on the 10th anniversary of the kidnapping at each of Kamiyah birthdays, she wrapped a piece of the birthday cake in foil and stuck it in her freezer.
“It is the stress to wake up every day, knowing that your child is there and you have no way to reach her or talk to her,” Mobley told the newspaper in 2008.
News moved quickly through the community of about 5,100 people early Friday after police cars swarmed Williams’ house. Jenkins said he woke up to see officers searching the house and the barn.
“At the fish market, the barber, the gas station, they are all talking about it,” said Reuben Boatwright, who said he’s known Williams for about 15 years.
Lakeshia Jenkins, Joseph, the wife, said Williams, and the girl would often come over for cookouts in the garden, or together with their family at a nearby waterpark. Kamiyah seemed to be well cared for, and “Mrs. Williams, she seemed a normal person,” Jenkins said.
“They went to work, came back and went to church every Sunday,” she said.
Williams also worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ hospital in Charleston, a volunteer in the field for Habitat for Humanity, and lead the youth program at a Methodist church, ” she said.
“She is very intelligent, smart as a whip,” Boatwright said. “I can only say good things about her.”