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Kamiyah Mobley: Teen kidnapped from Florida hospital as a newborn baby, rebuilds her life

Kamiyah Mobley, Alexis Manigo

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Kamiyah Mobley: Teen kidnapped from Florida hospital as a newborn baby, rebuilds her life

It’s been 12 months since Gloria Williams’  arrest for the kidnapping of Kamiyah Mobley. Very few updates have come out since.

Today we bring you an update on how Kamiyah aka. Alexis Manigo is living her life. We also gain insight as to exactly how the case unfolded.

The Post & Courier Reports: WALTERBORO — The house hasn’t changed, except for what the police took with them that day. The sun still orbits overhead, reaching in with golden hope each afternoon through white curtains to illuminate what once felt like the most normal place on earth.

When her cellphone rings, Alexis Manigo still walks past her mother’s china cabinet full of ceramic angels and toward the front porch, still painted black as it was on the day Gloria Williams revealed the truth to her. Alexis steps through a door frame, still pulled loose where police forced the door open before they took Gloria away.

Alexis clutches the silver cellphone that is her lifeline.

She is 19, a normal young woman who also is another young woman. Two names, one soul.

“Hello.”

She smiles, showing braces wrapped in teal rubber bands. It’s her “superhero stepmom,” as Alexis calls her, the wife of her biological father, the man she met earlier this year after a DNA swab proved she was the Florida newborn an entire nation had spent almost two decades searching for.

Alexis just returned from Craig Aiken’s home in Jacksonville, Fla., a few miles from the hospital where a woman dressed in scrubs stole an hours-old baby 19 years ago. Craig and his wife, like everyone in Florida, call Alexis that baby’s name: Kamiyah Mobley.

The discovery that she is that baby — and Gloria’s arrest in January for kidnapping her — have upended virtually everything about Alexis’ life in the months since. Her identity. Her family. Her future.

Now, her dad and his wife are eager to see her again.

“Can y’all pick me up on Sunday?” Alexis asks. “I was planning to go to church on Sunday with my grandmama…”

As she talks, an old friend texts her to hang out. A car driving by slows and honks a greeting. People here want to see her, too.

“I forgot that y’all supposed to come get me Saturday,” she adds. “But I’m going to be ready on Sunday.”

She’s trying to keep everyone vying for her love happy. But that’s a lot of people.

It’s complicated.

Gloria Williams
This is one of Alexis Manigo’s favorite pictures of Gloria Williams. Provided

How Kamiyah learned her truth

During her junior year, Alexis did something normal in her normal life: She applied for a job.

A manager at Shoney’s hired her on the spot. She could start the next day. As she left, the woman handed her a uniform.

“Just bring your Social Security number,” she added.

The next day, Gloria drove Alexis home after school to change into the uniform. They’d reached the front porch when Gloria suddenly stopped. Alexis turned around to see why.

Gloria was crying.

“What’s wrong with you?” Alexis felt impatient. She didn’t want to be late.

“Lex, I got to tell you something.”

Alexis tried to lighten her mother’s mood: “OK, but if I’m late, I’m telling on you!”

She would soon regret laughing.

Gloria explained that she didn’t have her Social Security number, and she never would. She’d taken Alexis from a hospital when she was a little baby.

Alexis laughed. Gloria cried.

“Lexi, be serious here!”

Maybe it was a way to cope. Maybe it was shock. Maybe it just didn’t matter because Gloria was her mom and always would be. For whatever reason, Alexis turned and walked inside.

Gloria called Shoney’s and apologized. Her daughter couldn’t take the job after all.

They returned to their normal lives. They didn’t discuss the subject again.

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In 1998, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office released sketches of an infant kidnapped from a hospital and of the woman who slipped away with her. (Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The crime

Alexis did, however, Google it. She found some old stories about a woman who had taken a newborn girl right out of a mother’s hospital room in Florida. It felt like she was reading about someone else’s life.

But it had happened on July 10, 1998. Her birthday.

On that day, at 6:55 a.m., a 16-year-old girl named Shanara Mobley had given birth to a healthy baby girl. At the same time, a woman wearing green scrubs and a blue floral nurse’s smock lurked around the maternity unit of what then was University Medical Center, now UF Health Jacksonville.

She soon strolled into Shanara’s hospital room with offers to help with the newborn.

The baby’s family thought the woman was a nurse. The nurses thought she was family.

Kamiyah and her birth father

Five hours later, the woman held all 8 pounds and 2 ounces of Kamiyah snugly in a white T-shirt, swaddled in a hospital blanket with blue and pink stripes.

About 3 p.m., she carried Kamiyah out of the room.

At 3:20 p.m., a manhunt was underway.

Police swarmed the hospital and blocked its exits. Investigators searched bags, rooms, cars, people. Helicopters thumped overhead. Personnel from the FBI and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children descended on Jacksonville.

Shanara’s wails soon echoed from televisions across the country. The newborn’s father hadn’t even held his little girl before she was gone.

The name Kamiyah Mobley suddenly sat on the lips of parents across Florida who clutched their own children more tightly. Her photograph hung everywhere. “America’s Most Wanted” featured her disappearance.

Investigators fanned out around the nation to chase thousands of tips.

But for 18 years, none led to Walterboro, South Carolina.

The charade

People often commented on how much they looked alike, mother and daughter.

Gloria and Alexis shared similar short builds and wide, engaging smiles. Gloria loved to take her daughter shopping, to get her hair and nails done. Like best friends, people marveled.

Her two sons, a decade older than Alexis, teased that their mother was way harder on them. When Gloria took away her daughter’s cellphone as a punishment, she’d still let Alexis use hers.

Surely it was because Alexis was the only girl, the baby.

Few people, if anyone, knew that Gloria had suffered a miscarriage days before she introduced them to little Alexis. Her boyfriend was locked up at the time, a relationship that later fizzled. No one realized that she had lost one child and brought home another.

Folks around Walterboro knew Gloria as a sweet, warm presence with two active boys, then 10 and 11. They saw how thrilled she was to have a little girl. She took her young family to a small Methodist church. She loved to dance and joke. She encouraged Alexis to smile more, even when Alexis thought her teeth were too crooked.

Gloria made Alexis happy. Alexis made her laugh.

Kamiyah Mobley, 18 year old who was abducted at birth reunited with mother Shanara Mobley and father Craig Aiken

When Alexis was in middle school, Gloria married a hard-working truck driver, and soon they all moved into a white Habitat for Humanity house with a black front porch. It sat in a nice residential area off a main road and had an expanse of grass and sand with big trees, space where kids could run free in the country air.

Just inside the front door, Gloria filled their cozy living room with family photographs clustered around plump couches and chairs. In their dining room, she hung a large painting of The Last Supper over an oblong table. The bathroom shower curtain offered cursive words of inspiration: Hope. Peace. Love.

Alexis graduated from Colleton County High, then turned 18 shortly after. Gloria took a job in medical records with the Veterans Affairs office at Joint Base Charleston while working on her master’s degree.

Nothing about their lives spoke to what happened on Jan. 13.

Happy childhood
Alexis Manigo (left) describes Gloria Williams as an ideal mother who doted on her as she grew up in a happy home with two older brothers, including one pictured here. Provided

The reckoning

Just before that cloudy day, Alexis had noticed a strange man in a suit staring at her in Dollar General. Creeped out, she left.

Shortly after, a friend’s mother told her that the Walterboro police wanted to talk to her. Alexis didn’t rush to call. She didn’t trust the police. She’d always found them quick to harass her friends.

Alexis didn’t think of her mother. Almost two years had gone by since Gloria told her about her birth.

Besides, how would the cops know anyway?

She finally called them back. An officer from Florida got on the line.

Alexis hung up. She knew then.

She immediately called Gloria.

Together they went to the police department, where authorities had a court order for a DNA swab. Alexis demanded to see it.

“Come on,” she finally said. “Let’s get this over with.”

Gloria was at home alone when police arrived several days later. Her husband was on the road. Alexis had spent the night at a friend’s house.

She regrets that now, not being there for Gloria.

Continue Reading at Post and Courier

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