The biological mother of Kamiyah Mobley, the teen kidnapped from a Florida hospital as an hours-old newborn and raised for 18 years by her abductor, gave emotional testimony during the kidnapper’s sentencing.
“It doesn’t heal now. I’m still hurting. When you’re reaching out to my child, that is my child,” Shanara Mobley said in court Thursday. “I am your mother, Kamiyah! I am your mother.”
Gloria Williams, the woman who kidnapped Kamiyah in 1998 and raised the girl as her own for 18 years, pleaded guilty in February to kidnapping and interference with custody. Kamiyah is now 19.
She struck a plea deal on the day her trial was set to begin, which calls for her to serve between zero and 22 years.
On Thursday, Mobley described how in 1998, hours after giving birth to her daughter, Williams posed as a nurse and said she had to take the baby to have her temperature taken. Mobley was 16 at the time and said she trusted Williams because the woman had spent hours getting to know the mother and child before the kidnapping.
When she realized her baby had been kidnapped, Mobley said that she went into a panic.
“I’m screaming and I’m hollering and cussing,” she testified, adding that she began to have suicidal thoughts afterward.
“I always thought about my baby every day, every day, every day,” Mobley said. “I would catch myself in my car crying, in bed crying, taking a bath crying, doing something with her siblings and crying.”
She saw no sign of Kamiyah for years. Williams raised her and renamed her Alexis Kelli Manigo.
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On Friday, the second day of her sentencing hearing, Williams took the stand to testify in her own defense.
She addressed the moment she told Kamiyah she had kidnapped her and that authorities were after her, saying, “[Kamiyah] wanted me to run.”
Kamiyah is not scheduled to testify, however, she has given a sworn statement that will be read in court.
In 2016, Williams’ stepdaughter allegedly called the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and left an anonymous tip that would lead investigators in the woman’s direction. She was arrested on Jan. 10, 2017, at her home in Walterboro, South Carolina.
When first interviewed by police, Kamiyah refused to believe the woman she thought was her mother had kidnapped her. In later interviews, she acknowledged that she had been abducted.
Prosecutors previously released letters that Kamiyah and Williams exchanged with each other since Williams’ arrest. The letters provide intimate insight into their relationship.
“I just want everything to go back to normal,” Kamiyah wrote to Williams in one letter. “I want you home, I need you home.”
“I love you no matter what,” Kamiyah wrote to Williams. “There is nothing or no one who can change that.”