By AMANDA ST. GERMAIN
(CN) – An 18-year-old woman met her biological parents for the first time this weekend after police arrested the woman they say kidnapped her from the maternity ward of a Jacksonville hospital just hours after her birth.
Gloria Williams, who raised Kamiyah Mobley as her own daughter, was arrested on Friday in Walterboro, South Carolina, after a DNA test confirmed that Mobley was, in fact, the infant that disappeared from the hospital 18 years ago.
Williams, who now potentially faces life in prison, was initially held in the Colleton County Jail in South Carolina, but on Saturday she waived extradition to Jacksonville.
The succession of events was a emotional roller coaster for Mobley, who said goodbye to the woman she always considered her mother, and hours later was introduced to her birth parents for the first time.
Mobley, who grew up in South Carolina believing her name was Alexis Manigo, said a tearful goodbye to her abductor Saturday, whispering “I love you, mama,” through the mesh screen that separated them at the Colleton County Jail.
Gloria Williams blew the young woman a kiss, and Mobley assured her she would pray for her.
Outside the jail, the 18 year old met her biological parents for the first time.
Her biological father, Craig Aiken, told Jacksonville’s WJXT that the first thing he told his daughter is that he loves her.
“The first meeting was beautiful. It’s a feeling that you can’t explain,” Aiken told the station.
Her birth mother, Shanara Mobley, reportedly told her daughter she’s had a birthday party for her every year since she was taken.
But later, Mobley took to Facebook to defend Gloria Williams, saying, “My mother raised me with everything I needed and most of all everything I wanted. My mother is no felon,” she said.
In a news conference on Friday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams (no relation to the woman in custody) told reporters that over the years his department and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received over 2,500 tips about the case, methodically following up each one.
He said that late last year cold case detectives traveled to South Carolina to follow up on a new lead about a young woman who had the same birth date as the missing the child.
Williams said during that investigation, detectives learned that Mobley’s identity had been established with fraudulent documentation.
With that information in hand, they then obtained a DBA sample from the young woman.
“Last night we received confirmation the young woman we contacted in South Carolina was in fact Kamiyah Mobley,” he said.
“This is what we strive for, justice for our victims, no matter how long it takes,” Williams added.
In addition to the kidnapping charge she now faces, Gloria Williams also faces a possible five year sentence if she’s convicted on a charge of interference of custody.
Kamiyah Mobley was born on July 10, 1998, at University Medical Center of Jacksonville to then 16-year-old Shanara Mobley.
According to prosecutors, Gloria Williams entered the hospital a few days later, passing herself off as a Mobley family member to hospital staff, and as a member of the staff to the new mother.
Williams then allegedly told Mobley that her newborn daughter was running a fever, and said she needed to take the infant to see a staff daughter and would return in a few minutes. Instead, walked out of the hospital with the baby and disappeared.
The kidnapping prompted hospitals across the nation to update security measures in maternity wards.
The hospital, now known as UF Health Jacksonville, requires all newborns to wear wrist- and ankle bands, limits access to maternity ward, and runs regular kidnapping drills, according to News4Jax.com.
Shanara Mobley sued the hospital after her daughter disappeared and was awarded $1.5 million in damages, according to charleyproject.org.