A newborn baby who was kidnapped from a Florida hospital 18 years ago by a woman pretending to be a nurse has been found alive and well in South Carolina.
The mystery of Kamiyah Mobley became a national sensation when she was taken from her mother’s arms at the University Medical Center in Jacksonville in July 1998.
Jacksonville police have since revealed the teen found out on Friday morning that the woman who has raised her in Walterboro her whole life is not her real mother.
Gloria Williams, 51, has been arrested and charged with kidnapping and interference with custody.
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Kamiyah Mobley (left in a composite created by police) was kidnapped by a woman pretending to be a nurse (right) 18 years ago. This week she was found alive in South Carolina
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said she will be extradited back to Florida.
The sensational news shuts closed a cold case that accumulated more than 2,500 leads and tips and captivated both the city and the country for more than a decade.
It was a tip last year that led Jacksonville police to South Carolina, where they found an 18-year-old woman with Kamiyah Mobley’s birth date but a different name.
They soon found out that fraudulent documents had been used to establish her identity.
A DNA sample from the teen was taken and submitted to a crime lab, where it was matched with the original newborn DNA taken the day Kamiyah was born.
The test confirmed the teen was, in fact, Kamiyah.
Sheriff Williams revealed that the name the teen has used for the last 18 years will not be revealed.
‘She’s going to need time and assistance to process all of this, so we are respecting her privacy.’
Sheriff Williams said Kamiyah appears to be in ‘good health’ and a ‘normal 18-year-old woman’.
Gloria Williams, 51, (left) has been arrested and charged with kidnapping and interference with custody. Pictured right is a sketch police released of the suspect after the kidnapping
He said she first had an inclination a couple of months ago that she may have been involved in the national kidnapping case in some way.
Sheriff Williams said the teen only found out on Friday morning that her concerns had been confirmed.
‘She’s taking it as well as you can imagine,’ he said. ‘We have victim’s advocates up there, she has a lot to process, a lot to think about.’
Gloria Williams was arrested on Friday morning at her home. Kamiyah was not present when she was taken in to custody.
The sheriff said Kamiyah had lived at the home with Williams and other members of her kidnapper’s family. There are no other suspects at this time.
Williams said he did not know if Kamiyah planned to reunite with her biological family, who he said was ‘elated’ by the news.
‘They were extremely excited, as you can imagine,’ he said. ‘Overwhelmed with emotion.’
It was just after 3pm on July 10, 1998 when a woman wearing a blue floral smock and green scrub pants took eight-hour-old Kamiyah in a white blanket and disappeared.
Authorities said the woman had roamed the halls of the University Medical Center, now UF Health Jacksonville, for 14 hours, according to The Florida Times-Union.
She had spent five hours with Kamiyah and her mother Shanara Mobley, who had just turned 16 at the time. But nurses thought she was a member of their family.
It was Kamiyah’s grandmother, Velma Aiken, who became suspicious when she saw the woman leave with a pocketbook 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.’
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams shared the sensational news on Friday and revealed that Kamiyah had only found out the truth that morning
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.
There were no pictures of Kamiyah and only grainy footage from the hospital surveillance camera of the suspect.
Authorities made a composite to try and illustrate what the newborn looked like. Sketches were released of the mysterious woman who had posed as a nurse.
A $250,000 reward was offer and Kamiyah’s story was told on CNN and America’s Most Wanted.
Craig Aiken, Kamiyah’s father, was in jail at the time of her kidnapping on a drug charge.
Her disappearance led to even more time behind bars when Aiken, 19 at the time, revealed he was the father – and that Kamiyah had been conceived when Shanara was 15.
Kamiyah was taken from the the University Medical Center, now UF Health Jacksonville (pictured), on July 10, 1998 just eight hours after she was born
Aiken pleaded guilty and spent five months in prison, wondering if he would ever see the baby daughter he never had the chance to meet.
Shanara, who used to cut a piece of cake and put it in the freezer for each one of Kamiyah’s birthdays, received a $1.5million settlement in 2000 after suing the hospital.
As the years passed the mother, who went on to have three more children, said she woke up every day knowing her firstborn was still out there – but that there was no way to reach or talk to her.
‘I wonder, “What does she like? What kind of food? What kind of colors? How smart is she? Does she have long pretty hair? Does she have my eyelashes?'” Shanara said in 2008.
Now, she may finally have the chance to find out.
‘I always hoped and prayed this day would happen. I always felt she was alive. I always felt she would find us,’ said Craig.
‘Now we have the rest of our lives together.’