A newborn baby, Kamiyah Mobley, who was kidnapped from a hospital in Florida in 1998, just hours after she was born, has been found alive and healthy in South Carolina, authorities announced Friday, cracking a case that went unsolved for 18 years.
“She appears to be a normal 18-year-old woman,” Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said of , Kamiyah Mobley who was found in Walterboro living under a different name. “She has a lot to process, a lot to think about.”
The 51-year-old woman Mobley has been living with, Gloria Williams, was arrested on Friday and charged with kidnapping and interference with custody.
The whole incident began on July 10, 1998, at the University Medical Center in Jacksonville – now known as the UF Health Jacksonville.
Shanara Mobley who was only 16 at that time, had given birth to Kamiyah. Eight hours later, a woman posing as a nurse said the newborn had a fever and needed to be looked at. The woman picked up Kamiyah and left the hospital, never to be seen again. At the time Kamiyah was born, her father was in jail for having sex with a minor (Shanara).
Authorities said the woman had roamed the halls of the University Medical Center for 14 hours. She had spent five hours with Kamiyah and her mother Shanara. But nurses thought she was a member of their family.
It was Velma who became suspicious when she saw the woman leave with a handbag slung over her shoulder as she carried Kamiyah away.
‘I just feel like if I would have reacted on my feelings… I could have done something,’ Aiken said. ‘I could have taken that lady out with my bare hands.’
But by the time the hospital staff was notified, it was too late. Every floor and room of the hospital was searched. Police called bus and train stations and airports to look out for baby Kamiyah. The FBI became involved.
Surveillance video released to the public in a plea for help showed a kidnapper that was too grainy to identify. And an extensive search of the hospital also turned up nothing.
A year after her disappearance, police had more than 2,000 leads and offered a $250,000 reward for Kamiyah, while the case drew national attention on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted”
But all the leads ran dry, until, Williams said, a tipster began feeding information to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that Kamiyah might be living in South Carolina.
Williams said they contacted Kamiyah and told them of their suspicion and asked for a DNA sample, which she willingly provided. Williams said Friday that a DNA swab test from the 18-year-old woman matched Kamiyah’s DNA from the hospital.
He said Kamiyah had a suspicion some months ago that something odd might have occurred in her past, but until the test came back positive, she believed Gloria Williams was her real mother.
“I can’t stress enough to give her some space and try to let her process this and get through it,” the sheriff told reporters Friday.
Williams said authorities confirmed only late Thursday night that they had found Kamiyah, and when they broke the news to her biological family, they were elated.
On the 10th anniversary of the kidnapping, Shanara Mobley, who was then 26, told the Florida Times-Union that it was “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.”
She also told the newspaper that in 2000, she settled a lawsuit with the hospital over the case and received $1.5 million.
Gloria Williams was arrested at her home on Friday morning and will be sent to Jacksonville to face charges. Kamiyah was not present when she was taken in to custody.
As for Kamiyah, police say the opportunity is there for her to get back in touch with her biological family, but the decision to do so is up to her. ‘They were extremely excited, as you can imagine,’ he said. ‘Overwhelmed with emotion.’
Kamiyah’s father and grandmother, Craig and Velma Aiken, said they have already spoken to her on FaceTime, as did Kamiyah’s mother Shanara, who has since had three more children. Craig and Velma revealed that they immediately noticed that Kamiyah looked like her father, according to First Coast News.
‘I can’t wait,’ Craig said of an upcoming reunion. ‘It’s been 18 years. I can’t wait no longer.’
Velma, 66, said her granddaughter chatted with the family as if they had known each other her whole life.
“She looks just like her daddy,” she told The Associated Press. ‘She act like she been talking to us all the time. She told us she’d be here soon to see us.”
Velma, who prayed she would see her granddaughter before the day she died, told the New York Daily News ‘everyone broken down in tears’ during the conversation. She added that Kamiyah is ‘well and looking good’ but revealed the family has not set an official reunion date yet and don’t want to rush her.
Authorities on Friday also did not reveal a motive for why Gloria Williams allegedly kidnapped the girl, saying that they are at the beginning stages of a complicated investigation.
“There are lots of questions left unanswered,” Williams said.
Court records show that Gloria Williams has an extensive criminal record and has been found guilty of writing fraudulent checks and welfare fraud.
Source: First Coast News reported.
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