US baby taken 8 hours after birth found 18 years later

Kamiyah Mobley (top) was found alive and well in South Carolina last Friday. Gloria Williams (above) allegedly pretended to be a nurse and took the baby eight hours after her birth.
Kamiyah Mobley (above) was found alive and well in South Carolina last Friday. Gloria Williams allegedly pretended to be a nurse and took the baby eight hours after her birth.
Kamiyah Mobley (top) was found alive and well in South Carolina last Friday. Gloria Williams (above) allegedly pretended to be a nurse and took the baby eight hours after her birth.
Kamiyah Mobley was found alive and well in South Carolina last Friday. Gloria Williams allegedly pretended to be a nurse and took the baby eight hours after her birth.
Kamiyah Mobley (top) was found alive and well in South Carolina last Friday. Gloria Williams (above) allegedly pretended to be a nurse and took the baby eight hours after her birth.
Kamiyah Mobley was found alive and well in South Carolina last Friday. Gloria Williams (above) allegedly pretended to be a nurse and took the baby eight hours after her birth.

MIAMI • A newborn baby was snatched from a Florida hospital. She was just found safe - at age 18.

The abduction of Kamiyah Mobley from a newborns ward was so shocking that the police stopped every train out of Jacksonville, a city in north-eastern Florida, and searched each one, row by row, in 1998.

It was so sudden - a 16-year-old gave birth to Kamiyah eight hours before an impostor nurse snatched her - that missing posters had to use an artist's impression of the baby.

Those posters were plastered all over the city in the first year of her disappearance. And the next year. And the next and the next - to no avail, despite a US$250,000 reward for Kamiyah's recovery, at least three appearances on TV show America's Most Wanted and a search across multiple countries.

Last Friday, 18 years after her disappearance, the girl was found.

"It's a case like we have not seen in this country in a long time," Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told reporters - the morning after DNA tests confirmed that an 18-year-old in Walterboro, South Carolina, had been living with her accused kidnapper under a different name.

Gloria Williams, 51, was arrested on charges of kidnapping and interference with custody.

Kamiyah had thought she was her mother, the sheriff said.

"She's taking it as well as you could imagine," Mr Williams said. "She has a lot to process. I can't even begin to comprehend it."

Ms Shanara Mobley was 16 when she handed her newborn baby to a woman in scrubs and a smock, who claimed to be a nurse.

She said Kamiyah needed to be checked for a fever.

The police said the impostor had been roaming the hospital for 14 hours, asking about the baby. The child's grandmother called the police minutes after the supposed nurse disappeared with the baby.

The authorities sealed the hospital, stopped every visitor, halted buses and trains, and put the airport police on alert for a baby - all to no avail. The search would grip the attention of much of the nation.

"Investigators have travelled as far as Puerto Rico, Seattle and Nova Scotia checking leads," the Associated Press reported after the baby had been gone a year. "They've taken footprints from 15 babies and have done DNA testing on two others. None matched."

"We can't give up hope," a case manager at the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children told the wire service.

The child's family sued the hospital, later settling in a case that prompted hospitals across central Florida to tighten security for newborn babies, the Orlando Sentinel reported in 2000.

It was not until last year, Mr Williams said, that tips led the authorities from Florida to South Carolina, where they found a young woman with Kamiyah's birth date but a different name.

Investigators realised that the teenager's identification papers were fake, Mr Williams said, and called in other agencies for help.

Kamiyah "had an inkling, beginning probably a couple months ago, that she may have been involved in this in some way", Mr Williams said.

Only last week did she learn who she was - and what the woman she called "mother" is accused of doing.

Kamiyah met her real mother, father and paternal grandmother on FaceTime last Friday, according to the New York Daily News.

She "doesn't act like we're brand new people", said her grandmother, Ms Velma Aiken, 66.

"She acts like she's been talking to us for a long time."

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 15, 2017, with the headline 'US baby taken 8 hours after birth found 18 years later'. Print Edition | Subscribe