A newborn – Kamiyah Mobley – kidnapped from a hospital in Florida in 1998 has been found safe in South Carolina – and the woman who posed as her mother for nearly two decades has been arrested, authorities said Friday.
Kamiyah Mobley, who was snatched from a hospital in Jacksonville on July 10, 1998, has been found safe after authorities received a series of tips through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told reporters during a news conference.
“For law enforcement, even when a case is deemed cold, we’re always looking for new information, a tip or an advancement of technology that furthers that investigation,” Williams said. “This is what we strive for – justice for our victims no matter how long it takes. So, today I am announcing such a case.”
Williams said two tips received late last year – the latest of more than 2,500 leads in the case since 1998 – led investigators to Walterboro, S.C., where detectives located an 18-year-old woman with the same date of birth as Kamiyah Mobley, but a different name.
Further investigation revealed that fraudulent documents were used to establish the woman’s identity and a subsequent DNA test proved that she was, in fact, Kamiyah Mobley, according to Williams, who declined to disclose the identity she had assumed for 18 years.
“Please remember that this young woman was abducted as a newborn and she’s going to need time and assistance to process all of this,” Williams said.
Williams declined to say whether Mobley will reunite with her family.
“She has to make that decision,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not. Imagine the gravity of the situation she’s dealing with.”
The woman Mobley had been living with, Gloria Williams, 51, was arrested and charged with kidnapping and interference with custody. She will be extradited back to Jacksonville, Williams said.
“We do believe she may have had an idea she was a kidnapping victim,” Williams said of Mobley.
Mobley, according to the Florida Times-Union, was kidnapped in 1998 by a woman posing as a nurse who grabbed the newborn from her mother’s hospital room and disappeared.
The woman had been roaming around University Medical Center – which is now UF Health Jacksonville – and spent five hours with the newborn’s mother, Shanara Mobley, before claiming Kamiyah had a fever and needed medical attention.
The woman, dressed in a blue floral smock and green medical scrubs, placed the 8-pound girl in a blanket and left the room with a purse slung over her shoulder. Authorities and relatives said they thought the woman was a nurse, while nurses mistook her as a family member, the Florida Union-Times reports.
Mobley, then 26, told the newspaper on the 10th anniversary of the kidnapping that it was stressful to wake up knowing her child was “out there” somewhere and she had no way to reach her.
“The main thing that beats you up the most is … you don’t know nothing,” Mobley said.
Velma Aiken, the girl’s grandmother, said she remembers seeing the woman when she entered Mobley’s room and was suspicious that she had a pocketbook.
Officers searched each room in the hospital and other law enforcement agencies were called to assist in the investigation, including the FBI.
Sgt. Don Schoenfeld of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told the newspaper in a 2008 interview that investigators couldn’t keep up with the volume of tips received in the case. Some of the tips came from as far away as Nova Scotia.
“We pulled in everybody we could,” he said. “There weren’t enough hours in the day to shag all the leads.”