Losing a child is one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. No one knows this more than the families that have had their precious little ones taken from them. Like Julian Hernandez, the boy who discovered he had been abducted when he tried to apply for college or the girl who was snatched from her front yard by a predator. Luckily in these cases, both children had tear-worthy reunions with their parents. And then there was Kamiyah Mobley.
18 years ago, brand new parents Craig Aiken and Shanara Mobley, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Kamiyah in Jacksonville, Florida in July of 1998. They were enjoying the first few hours with their baby girl when tragedy struck.
The child, only hours old, was picked up by a woman posing as a health care worker. Believing she was a nurse, Craig and Shanara allowed her to take their child out of room for a medical procedure. Hospital staff mistook the woman for a relative, and she was able to walk right out of the building with the child.
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Police immediately mounted a massive search. Helicopters encircled the hospital and the city was kept on high alert but that was the last time they saw their baby.
They received thousands of tips over the years but nothing ever panned out.
Then years later, detectives received a secret tip on a hotline. Police won’t reveal the source but the tip-off led them to a home in Walterboro, South Carolina. And they found Kamiyah, 18 years after her kidnapping, safe and sound.
The child, now named Alexis Manigo, had unknowingly lived with her kidnapper Gloria Williams since her abduction. She grew up believing that 51-year-old Gloria was her biological mother.
Gloria was arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping and third-degree interference with custody. Kamiyah was not present at the time.
When police questioned Gloria, the real story began to unravel. 18-years-ago she had suffered a miscarriage. Desperate to be a mother, she reacted by stealing Kamiyah out of the arms of her parents.
She told her boyfriend, Charles Manigo, that she had successfully had their baby while he was away and they raised the little girl together for almost 2 decades!
But the one most affected by this ordeal is Kamiyah herself. She has been overwhelmed since everything was confirmed by a DNA test.
At Gloria William’s trial, she attended so she could be sure to tell the woman who raised her that she still loved her and would always be her daughter. Then she set out to meet her biological parents at the police station in South Carolina. And the moment was beautiful.
“I always hoped and prayed this day would happen,” Aiken told the Florida Times-Union. “I always felt she was alive. I always felt she would find us. Now we have the rest of our lives together.”
Aiken’s mother admitted, “I just prayed and gave it to the Lord. She’s coming home! Yes, Lord, we’re fixing to celebrate!”
None of them know what the future holds, but they are going to give their long lost daughter all the time she needs to figure it out. For now they are just thankful and grateful.
“I always thought I would find her,” Aiken said. “For anybody that lost hope, just keep hope alive. Keep praying. Keep fighting. If it happened to me, it could happen to anybody.”
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