Woman stolen at birth learns iden­tity; ‘Momma’ charged

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - NEWS - By Ja­son Dearen and Russ Bynum

WAL­TER­BORO, S.C. >> Stolen from a hospi­tal just hours af­ter she was born, an 18-year-old woman fi­nally learned her true iden­tity and was re­united Fri­day with her birth fam­ily, by video chat. The woman she thought was her mother was charged with her kid­nap­ping.

Thanks to DNA anal­y­sis, the 18-year-old now knows her birth name: Kamiyah Mobley.

She’s in good health, but un­der­stand­ably over­whelmed, Jack­sonville Sher­iff Mike Wil­liams said.

Glo­ria Wil­liams, 51, was ar­rested at her home in Wal­ter­boro, South Carolina, early Fri­day on charges of kid­nap­ping and in­ter­fer­ence with cus­tody.

Mobley — who was raised un­der her given name, Alexis Manigo — was al­lowed to spend a few emo­tional mo­ments with Wil­liams on Fri­day. She cried “Momma” through the caged win­dow of a se­cu­rity door af­ter Wil­liams waived ex­tra­di­tion to Florida, ac­cord­ing to the TV sta­tion “News4JAX,” which posted a video on­line (http://bit. ly/2j9vRO5).

A much dif­fer­ent scene was de­scribed by the young woman’s birth fam­ily. They cried “tears of joy” af­ter a de­tec­tive told them their baby had been found. Within hours Fri­day, they were able to re­con­nect over 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. “She act like she been talk­ing to us all the time. She told us she’d 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 at Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter. A mas­sive search en­sued, with he­li­copters cir­cling the hospi­tal and the city on high alert. Thou­sands of tips came in over the years, but she had dis­ap­peared.

All that time, Kamiyah’s neigh­bors in Wal­ter­boro knew her as Glo­ria Wil­liams’ daugh­ter.

“She wasn’t an abused child or a child who got in trou­ble. But she grew up with a lie for 18 years,” Joseph Jenk­ins, who lives across the street, told the AP.

Some months ago, the young woman “had an in­cli­na­tion” that she may have been kid­napped, the sher­iff said. Au­thor­i­ties didn’t say why she sus­pected this.

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 from whom the tip came.

But the cen­ter soon reached out to the cold case de­tec­tives at the sher­iff’s of­fice, and Mobley pro­vided a swab of her cheek for DNA anal­y­sis that proved the match, the sher­iff said.

“This was some­thing brand new to all of us,” said Te­sha Stephens, a cousin of Wil­liams, who spoke to re­porters out­side their home Fri­day evening.

The cen­ter has tracked 308 in­fant ab­duc­tions since 1983 by non­fam­ily mem­bers in the U.S. Of those cases, 12 were still miss­ing at the end of last month. That’s now one num­ber smaller.

“Right now she’s hold­ing up,” Stephens said. “She’s pro­cess­ing ev­ery­thing and she’s prob­a­bly go­ing to have to take this day-by-day.”

The woman has been pro­vided with coun­sel­ing, the sher­iff said. Mean­while, Aiken is thrilled to know that they can speak with each other as much as they want.

“I al­ways prayed, ‘Don’t let me die be­fore I see my grand baby’,” said Aiken. “My prayer was an­swered.”

The fam­ily never for­got the lit­tle girl ripped from her mother’s arms that day in 1988.

Her mother, Sha­nara Mobley, told the Florida TimesUnion news­pa­per on the 10th an­niver­sary of the kid­nap­ping that on ev­ery one of Kamiyah’s birth­days, she wrapped a piece of birth­day cake in foil and stuck it in her freezer.

“It’s stress­ful to wake up ev­ery day, know­ing that your child is out there and you have no way to reach her or talk to her,” Mobley told the pa­per in 2008.

News moved quickly through the com­mu­nity of about 5,100 peo­ple early Fri­day af­ter po­lice cars swarmed Wil­liams’ home. Joseph Jenk­ins said he awoke to see of­fi­cers search­ing the house and the shed around back.

“At the fish mar­ket, the hair dresser, the gas sta­tion, they’re all talk­ing about it,” said Ruben Boatwright, who said he’s known Wil­liams for about 15 years.

Lakeshia Jenk­ins, Joseph’s wife, said Wil­liams and the girl would of­ten come over for cook­outs in the yard, or join their fam­ily at a nearby wa­ter park. Kamiyah seemed to be well cared for, and “Ms. Wil­liams, she seemed like a nor­mal per­son,” Jenk­ins said.

WILL DICKEY — THE FLORIDA TIMES-UNION VIA AP

Velma Aiken, the pa­ter­nal grand­mother of Kamiyah Mobley, who was kid­napped as an in­fant 18 years ago, gets a con­grat­u­la­tory hug from a fam­ily mem­ber af­ter Mobley was found safe Fri­day in Jack­sonville, Fla.

JACK­SONVILLE SHER­IFF’S OF­FICE VIA COLLETON SHER­IFF’S OF­FICE VIA AP

This Fri­day ar­rest photo made avail­able by the Jack­sonville Sher­iff’s Of­fice via the Colleton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice shows Glo­ria Wil­liams, un­der ar­rest in Wal­ter­boro, SC. Wil­liams is a sus­pect in the kid­nap­ping of a baby girl in Jack­sonville, Fla., 18 years ago.

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