How Detectives Cracked the Cold Case of a Florida Newborn Stolen from the Hospital 18 Years Ago

The kidnapping case of Kamiyah Mobley was solved in part after police discovered her Social Security number belonged to a dead Virginia man, new documents reveal

Newly released police documents reveal how a series of anonymous tips, beginning in August, led investigators to solve the 18-year mystery of Kamiyah Mobley’s disappearance.

Mobley was just 8 hours old when authorities claim that Gloria Williams, posing as a health care worker, stole her from a Jacksonville, Florida, hospital in July 1998. On Friday, investigators said Mobley had been found in Walterboro, South Carolina, living under a false identity apparently created for her following her abduction.

Williams, 51, was arrested on a kidnapping charge the same day.

The case started to crack when the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children received two anonymous tips about Mobley, according to Williams’ arrest warrant affidavit, which was obtained by PEOPLE.

According to the first tip, sent to the center on Aug. 8, Mobley told a friend that she had been abducted as a baby. “The tip said that the victim is currently named Alexis Kelli Manigo,” the affidavit states.

Three months later, on Nov. 8, the center received a second tip from an unnamed person who claimed Williams had allegedly admitted to the kidnapping, according to the affidavit. “The suspect stated that she renamed the victim as Alexis Kelli Manigo, and claims her as her daughter.”

Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union/AP; Colleton County High School/the Press and Standard

Jacksonville sheriff’s detectives opened up an investigation and arrived in Walterboro on Jan. 10, after which they obtained Mobley’s birth certificate and Social Security card from her high school, the affidavit states.

Mobley’s birth certificate was a fraud and her Social Security number was taken from a Virginia man who died in 1983, according to the affidavit. One of Mobley’s friends previously told PEOPLE the teen learned of her true identity two years ago, when she tried to get a job and was asked for her identifying paperwork.

“Lexy didn’t have that, so she asked Ms. Gloria for it and Ms. Gloria kept brushing it off,” the friend, Arika Williams, claimed. “Lexy kept being hard on her mother, like, ‘Mama, where is my stuff? I want to get this job.’ Then Miss Gloria just broke down and told her, ‘This is why right here, you can’t do this. I kidnapped you.’ ”

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A witness who spoke with detectives in Walterboro also said Gloria had confessed “approximately a year and a half ago” to abducting Mobley from the hospital, the arrest warrant affidavit alleges.

Another witness told detectives “Alexis Manigo told her that she had been kidnapped” and that Williams “told her she was Kamiyah Mobley,” according to the affidavit.

Kamiyah Mobley with Gloria Williams
Tampa Bay Times/ZUMA Wire

‘We Don’t Know Exactly What She Knew’

Despite the dramatic announcements this week in the nearly two-decades-old case, several questions remain unanswered.

“We don’t know exactly what she knew,” Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told PEOPLE of Mobley. “We know that obviously there was conversation about her maybe not being [Gloria’s] daughter. Did she confess completely to her, or did she just give her pieces of it? We are not quite sure at this point.”

Sheriff Williams said they are still working out what led to the abduction: “We don’t know the answer to that, as to why [Gloria] did it, and we don’t know if she told [Mobley].”

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Mobley has defended Gloria, who she grew up believing was her mom. The teen told ABC News, “She loved me for 18 years. She raised me for 18 years … I will always love her.”

“From that one mistake, I was given the best life. I was. I had everything I ever needed, wanted. I had love especially,” Mobley said. “I understand what she did was wrong, but just don’t lock her up and throw away the key like everything she did was just awful.”

Mobley met her biological parents for the first time on Saturday at the Walterboro Police Department, WCSC reported.

“I feel like I do owe them that, to give them a chance, you know? Get to know them,” Mobley told ABC News. “I’m not saying they weren’t going to be good parents. I’m not saying that at all. But it would have been a different life.”

She added: “When you find out you’ve got another family out there, it’s just more love.”

Arika Williams, Mobley’s friend, told PEOPLE that after Mobley learned the truth of her abduction, she started looking up stories about the case and allegedly called her birth mother.

“She said she heard her voice and she hung up,” Arika said.

Arika said Mobley eventually “just let it go.”

“Gloria is all she knows. That is mama to her,” she said. “That is who raised her to who she is now. And no matter what, that will always be mama to her.”

Stolen Infant Found
Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union/AP

Suspected Kidnapper Appears in Court

On Wednesday, Gloria made her first court appearance in Florida on charges of first-degree kidnapping and third-degree custodial interference.

During the brief hearing, no bond was set on the kidnapping charge and a $503,000 bond was set on the interference charge. Gloria remains in custody in the Duval County Jail.

She did not enter a plea. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 8.

It was not immediately clear if she has retained an attorney. The lawyer with her in court Friday did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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