Woman pleads guilty to kidnapping newborn in 1998, raising her to adulthood
Samira Said, CNN
Published at | Updated at
(CNN) — Two decades after taking a baby from a hospital and raising the child as her own, a South Carolina woman pleaded guilty Monday to kidnapping and interference with custody, prosecutors said.
Gloria Williams, 52, allegedly posed as a hospital nurse and took Kamiyah Mobley only hours after she was born on July 10, 1998, at a Jacksonville, Florida, hospital. The infant’s mother, Shanara Mobley, told investigators a woman she thought was a nurse entered her room. The new mother asked the woman to place her daughter in a baby carrier, but the nurse instead left with the newborn, according to an incident report filed with the sheriff’s office.
Authorities said Williams used fraudulent documents to establish a new identity for the child and raise her in Walterboro, South Carolina, northwest of Charleston. That child, now 19, goes by the name Williams gave her — Alexis Manigo.
Prosecutors are seeking up to 22 years in prison on the kidnapping charge and up to five years on the interference charge under the negotiated plea deal, said David Chapman, a spokesman for the Florida state’s attorney office for the fourth judicial circuit. Sentencing is set for the first week of May.
“This is a range that we are good with, zero to 22 years, but it will be up to the judge to decide,” Chapman said
Williams, who appeared in a Jacksonville courtroom on Monday, could have faced up to life in prison if the case had gone to trial and ended with a conviction. Williams’ attorney, Diana L. Johnson, couldn’t be reached late Monday.
Under the proposed plea deal, Williams is barred from writing any books or making movie deals to profit while she is in incarcerated, Chapman said. She will also be protected from prosecution in South Carolina or a federal court.
Williams was being held in the Duval County jail, CNN affiliate WJXT reported.
Manigo has accepted what police say — that she was born as Kamiyah Mobley and that the woman who raised her stole her from the Florida hospital.
Manigo had declined to answer questions about when she began to suspect something was amiss. But court documents reveal Manigo may have known about her hidden past for months.
Following up on a tip given to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in August 2016, detectives interviewed a witness who said Manigo claimed she was kidnapped from a Jacksonville hospital as a baby, according to the affidavit for Williams’ arrest.
A DNA test during the investigation revealed that Manigo was the infant.
After her arrest, Williams was extradited to Florida in January 2017 and charged with kidnapping.
Manigo, who has met her biological parents, told HLN’s Ashleigh Banfield last year that she loves the woman and still considers her mom.
“I still feel the same way about her,” Manigo said at the time. “My feelings toward my mother will never change.”