A Florida newborn taken from her family in the hospital more than 18 years ago has been located living with her alleged abductor, who she believed to be her mom, law enforcement announced Friday.
Kamiyah Mobley was only hours old when authorities say a woman posing as a health care worker took her from a Jacksonville, Florida, hospital in July 1998. According to local reports, Mobley was briefly given to the woman because her family believed the woman was a nurse, while hospital staff believed the woman was a relative.
On Friday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said at a news conference that Mobley had been found in Walterboro, South Carolina, living under a false identity apparently created for her following her abduction.
He said Mobley’s biological parents were overjoyed at the news of her discovery: Her mother was “elated.” He noted that Mobley has not been reunited with her parents yet and said any decision about such a reunion was solely up to her as an adult.
The woman who Mobley believed to be her mother, Gloria Williams, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree kidnapping and third-degree interference with custody, prosecutors said.
Gloria Williams was arrested at her home in Walterboro, Sheriff Williams said. Mobley was not present.
“We don’t believe she was a resident [of Jacksonville], but again those are things we will look into,” he said of the suspect. “We are not sure of her ties to Jacksonville. We are as early in this investigation as can be and it is as complicated as you can imagine.”
The sheriff said he didn’t know if Mobley’s alleged abductor has a criminal history.
She appeared in court in South Carolina on Friday afternoon, according to a First Coast News reporter, with Mobley in attendance at the hearing. The teen told her she loved her and was praying for her.
“[The] hearing was one of the worst things I’ve ever watched,” reporter Clark Fouraker tweeted. “So much confusion. So much sadness.”
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How the Case Was Broken
Mobley’s disappearance in 1998 made national news and continued to garner attention as it turned cold over the years, becoming the rarest of rare things: a child’s hospital abduction that was never solved.
That changed this week, when on Thursday night authorities confirmed Mobley’s identity via DNA after they were led to her by a series of leads, via the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, beginning late last year, Sheriff Williams said.
He said Mobley has had “some inclination” beginning several months ago that she may be involved in the case but otherwise “appears to be a normal 18-year-old young woman.”
“I always hoped and prayed this day would happen,” Mobley’s father, Craig Aiken, told the Florida Times-Union.
“I always felt she was alive,” he said. “I always felt she would find us. Now we have the rest of our lives together.”
“I just prayed and gave it to the Lord,” Aiken’s mother told the paper. “She’s coming home! Yes, Lord, we’re fixing to celebrate!”
Aiken said Mobley will come to Jacksonville soon, according to the Times-Union.
‘She’s Going to Need Time’
Sheriff Williams declined at Friday’s news conference to identify Mobley by the name under which she has been living for so many years, out of respect for her privacy.
“She’s going to need time and assistance to process all of this,” he said.
He stressed that many questions remain and that the investigation is in its early stages. “A case like this we have not seen in this country in a long time,” he said.
It was not immediately clear if Gloria Williams has retained an attorney. She is reportedly awaiting extradition from South Carolina and remains in custody without bail.