The father who raised Kamiyah Mobley, the now-teenager who was kidnapped when she was just a newborn, says she will always be his child.
Kamiyah Mobley, who was raised under the name Alexis Kelly, was just a few hours old when Gloria Williams, a woman posing as a nurse, kidnapped her from a Jacksonville, Florida, hospital in July 1998. Apparently, Mobley’s biological parents, father Craig Aiken and mother Shanara Mobley, handed their newborn daughter to Williams because they believed she was a nurse, while the hospital staff believed she was a family member.
Kamiyah’s abduction made national news, and continued receiving attention until it went cold. With the help of a series of leads from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the police were able to use DNA to positively identify Kamiyah as the abducted infant.
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Gloria Williams was arrested and is being charged with first-degree kidnapping and third-degree interference with custody. She currently remains in jail.
Charles Manigo, the man who raised Mobley believing she was his daughter, was completely shocked by the news, as was everyone else who is involved. Manigo said he had no idea the little girl he raised wasn’t actually his. Williams had reportedly told him she had given birth to Kamiyah while he was away, and the two continued to raise her together until the separated in 2003, at which point they had shared custody.
“I named her — a name I had for a year,” Manigo told ABC News through tears. “She was the love of my life.”
“We just kept praying, hoping & believing”, Velma on her granddaughter’s return, 18 years after she was stolen https://t.co/dyPaxaUc8S
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“I talk to her every day,” Manigo said. “The attention is overwhelming to her. She’s still processing everything. It’s a shock to me, it’s a bigger shock to her. One of the hardest things she said on Friday was, ‘Dad I love you,’ even though she knows what’s going on.”
Although Kamiyah isn’t his biological daughter, Manido said she will always be his child.
“She’s still my child,” he said. “I love her just as much — that’s not going to change. She’s the love of my life. She’s my child.”
On Saturday, Craig Aiken and Shanara Mobley came from Jacksonville, Florida to reunite with their daughter, who they had not seen in 18 years. According to Live 5 News, the reunion took place at the Walterboro Police Department and lasted approximately 45 minutes. Needless to say, the parents were overjoyed to finally have their daughter back.
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“First meeting was beautiful, it was wonderful, couldn’t went no better… she was glad to meet us,” Aiken said. “It’s a feeling that you can’t explain it, it’s hard to put it in words right now it’s hard to deal with this here right now. We are just trying to process it, 18 years, it’s going to be hard to make that up.”
There are currently no definite plans as for what is next for the family. They said it will be left up to Kamiyah to decide if she wants to come to Florida, and right now they are just taking it all in. Aiken said he would like to tell other families that have went through what his family has to not give up hope.
“For anybody that lost hope just keep hope alive, just keep praying, keep fighting, if it happened to me, it can happen to anybody,” Aiken said.
[Featured Image by Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office/Associated Press]