Neighbors remember them as mother and daughter who weren’t just family but also best friends – the church-going woman and her impeccably polite teen (a missing child) who would even get their nails done together.
After finishing high school, 18-year-old Alexis Manigo had been preparing to leave home and move away from Walterboro, a small South Carolina town, and her beloved mother Gloria Williams, to attend a technical college.
In an astonishing conclusion to one of America’s most notorious missing child cases, police have discovered that Alexis was snatched from the arms of her real mother in a Florida hospital in 1998 by a woman posing as a nurse.
At the weekend, Alexis – or Kamiyah Mobley as we now know she was born – was reunited – with her biological parents, Shanara Mobley and Craig Aiken, who live 200 miles away in Florida.
Mr Aiken described their hour together in a South Carolina detention center – where her other mother is being held by police – as ‘the best day of my life’.
Until what she had done was uncovered, family and friends believed Kamiyah was her real daughter.
Williams gave birth to two subsequent children while Kamiyah’s devastated birth mother also went on to have further offspring.
‘My mother raised me with everything I needed and most of all everything I wanted,’ the teenager wrote defiantly on Facebook.
Allowed to see Williams at a bail hearing on Friday, in which the suspect waived her rights to resist extradition to Florida, a tearful Kamiyah touched fingers with her abductor through the mesh of the caged window of a security door.
Some observers have pointed out that Kamiyah’s life may have been better than if she had been left with her birth mother – whose life has been marred by other setbacks. Those who know Kamiyah as the girl called ‘Lexi’ admit their emotions are torn.
Kamiyah Mobley was just eight hours old when she was snatched from University Medical Center, a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. Over a period of 14 hours, Gloria Williams roamed the busy hospital asking anxiously when mother and child were due to leave the maternity ward – convincing medical staff that she was a worried relative. To the girl’s family, she had posed as a health worker and befriended the exhausted mother over five hours, periodically visiting her bed. After police launched their hunt for the missing baby, Mrs Aiken’s son, 19 at the time, was arrested on under-age sex charges after he admitted Kamiyah’s mother was only 15 when he got her pregnant.
Neither side of the family was actively involved in looking for the baby, it was said, and the parents would not allow police to create photos of what Kamiyah might look like as a young girl to help inquiries.
Police have also revealed that Kamiyah herself suddenly had her own ‘inclination’ she might have been kidnapped. Police said that parallel interviews with local people also led them to believe the teenager could be Kamiyah. Happy to co-operate, Kamiyah gave a sample from a swab of her cheek last week.
Velma Aiken, who said she had always prayed she wouldn’t die before seeing her granddaughter again, said she had heard that the only mother Kamiyah had ever known had, at least, raised her well.
Facing an upheaval in her life that few of us can contemplate, it remains to be seen whether Kamiyah will ever quite be able to share the unalloyed joy of her new-found family. Source: Daily Mail: A dilemma beyond imagination: A newborn baby is snatched from her mother