Nineteen years after she was kidnapped as a newborn, Kamiyah Mobley was returned to her biological family, but her adaptation has been difficult and heartbreaking.
In 1998, newborn Kamiyah Mobley was kidnapped from a Florida hospital by Gloria Williams, who had recently miscarried a baby of her own. Williams raised her as her own daughter under the name Alexis Manigo.
Authorities found Williams, and DNA tests proved the girl she called Alexis Manigo was, in fact, Kamiyah Mobley. At first, her daughter's return was a dream come true for biological mom Shanara Mobley, but reality quickly set in for both.
Mother and newborn baby | Source: Unsplash
IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER
In 1998, 16-year-old Shanara Mobley was in a Jacksonville, Florida hospital after giving birth to her first baby when a woman walked into her room and started chatting. The woman was wearing scrubs, and the teen allowed her to take her baby.
It would be nearly 19 years before Shanara saw her daughter again. The woman that Shanara had believed to be a nurse was, in fact, Gloria Williams, then 33, and she had recently miscarried her own child.
Williams is currently serving out a 19-year sentence for kidnapping Kamiyah and an appeal for a sentence reduction was denied.
THE LONG WAIT
The desperate Shanara never gave up on her baby girl, and over the next 19 years, she would make a cake for Kamiyah on her July 10 birthday. Kamiyah's kidnapping became a cold case until a tip to the Jacksonville police started the investigation again.
An anonymous tip alerted detectives that a young South Carolina woman had told a friend that she had been kidnapped as a baby. The young woman was named Alexis Kelli Manigo, and police discovered that her social security number belonged to a dead man.
The investigation led to a DNA test of Alexis Manigo, which confirmed that she was, in fact, the long-lost Kamiyah Mobley, and to the arrest of Gloria Williams for kidnapping and interfering with custody.
As it turned out, Williams had confessed to Kamiyah that she had "stolen" her as a baby when the teen had asked her for identification documents she needed to apply for a job. Kamiyah had confided in a friend, who had tipped off police.
DEFENDING HER KIDNAPPER
Kamiyah was reunited with her birth family. But the teen was dazed with the turnabout her life had taken and saw the woman she adored and had considered her mother jailed as a criminal for abducting her. She said:
“From that one mistake, I was given the best life. I was. I had everything I ever needed, wanted. I had love especially.”
Kamiyah's fierce defense of her "mother" shocked Shanara, who had been praying for her little girl's return for the best part of two decades. The two women's relationship has been strained by Kamiyah's devotion to Williams, which Shanara resents.
Shanara, who now has six children, including Kamiyah, has expressed hurt and bitterness and revealed she sometimes wishes her daughter had never been found. Kamiyah calls Williams "mommy," and it was the kidnapper who received a loving card on mother's day.
Kamiyah moved to Jacksonville to live with her birth father, Carl Aiken, two years after being reunited with her birth family. Aiken has commented on the 2019 film "Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story" as not being "real."
Aiken has denounced the film as being made to profit from their family's tragedy. The film, starring Niecy Nash, Rayven Symone Ferrell, and Ta'Rhonda Jones, was not endorsed by the family.
Williams is currently serving out a 19-year sentence for kidnapping Kamiyah, and an appeal for a sentence reduction was denied by the court in 2019, despite Kamiyah's appeals. She will only be released in 2034.
Willimas had lost custody of her two sons shortly before her miscarriage. She revealed that at the time of the kidnapping, she had been in an abusive relationship with the father of her lost child and had believed a baby would turn things around.
Willimas realized that she couldn't raise Kamiyah with a violent man and left him. Despite having raised Kamiyah as her own, at her sentencing, Williams urged her to accept her birth parents and her new family.
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