Newborn abducted in 1998 found alive; woman charged with kidnapping

South Carolina woman who raised girl as her daughter charged with kidnapping

By Jim Piggott - Reporter, Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter

Composite photo of Kamiyah Mobley from July 1998; January 2017 booking photo of Gloria Williams

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A newborn baby taken from a Jacksonville hospital on July 10, 1998, has been found alive in South Carolina and officials have charged a 51-year-old woman with kidnapping, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Acting on recent tips, JSO cold-case detectives traveled to Walterboro, South Carolina, and found an 18-year-old woman with a matching birth date to Kamiyah Mobley, according to Sheriff Mike Williams. Detectives learned the woman's identity was established with fraudulent documents, and they took a DNA sample from her. Thursday night, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab confirmed the woman was Kamiyah.

Booking photo of Gloria Williams, 51, years old who was arrested in South Carolina for the kidnapping of Kamiyah Mobley 18 years ago

The 18-year-old was told the results and a woman named Gloria Williams, who the teen believed was her biological mother, was arrested and charged with kidnapping and interference with custody. She will be extradited to Jacksonville to face the charges.

They had been living in Walterboro, a city of about 5,400 people located about 50 miles west of Charleston.

At a Friday news conference of local, state and federal officials, Sheriff Williams said the victim began to have an inclination beginning a couple of months ago that she might have been kidnapped. 

Authorities are not releasing the name the victim has been living under all these years and asked that media and the public give her space to process the news.

"She appears to be a normal 18-year-old woman," Sheriff Williams said. "She's taking it as well as you can imagine. She has a lot to process."

Kamiyah’s family still lives in Jacksonville and was elated to learn she had been found alive.

“They were overwhelmed with emotion,” Sheriff Williams said.

The search for the baby became a national story. The kidnapper, described at the time as being between 25 and 47 years old wearing a nurses' flower-print jacket, teal "scrubs" and surgical gloves, was captured in grainy surveillance video, but was never found.

Sheriff Williams said that over 2,500 tips had come into the JSO or National Center for Missing and Exploited Children over the 18 years since the baby was taken, and even though the detectives working the original case had retired, others never stopped trying to find out what happened to Kamiyah.

"Even when a case is deemed cold, we're always looking for new information, a tip or an advancement in technology. This is what we strive for, justice for our victims, no matter how long it takes," Sheriff Williams said. “This is a case like we have not seen in this country in a long time."

Kayaiya Mobley reward poster

According to reports at the time, Kamiyha's mother, Shanara Mobley, had just turned 16 and was befriended by a woman who passed herself off as a Mobley family member to the hospital and a medical professional to Shanara.

Kamiyah's 19-year-old father was in jail on a charge of lewd assault for having sex with a minor, because Shanara was 15 when he got her pregnant.

FROM WJXT's VIDEO VAULT:
Manhunt after abduction | Mother pleads for baby's safe return | Day 3 of search | Hospital concerned for infant's health

Shanara sued the hospital and was awarded a $1.5 million settlement, according CharleyProject.org. She has since had three more children.

After the kidnapping, the University Medical Center, which became Shands Jacksonville, then UF Health Jacksonville, also added wristbands and ankle bands for newborns, along with limiting access to the maternity ward, security and instituted kidnapping drills.

Other hospitals in Jacksonville and across the nation increased security in their maternity wards after Kamiyah's abduction.

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