JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The birth parents of a girl found safe 18 years after she was abducted from a Jacksonville hospital shared a “beautiful” reunion with their daughter Saturday in South Carolina.
Kamiyah Mobley, who has lived the last 18 years under the name Alexis Manigo, was found alive and safe in Walterboro, South Carolina. She had been raised by the woman police said kidnapped her from University Medical Center (now UF Health) in 1998.
Craig Aiken and Shanara Mobley, Kamiyah's birth parents, traveled to South Carolina to meet Alexis just days after learning DNA evidence confirmed the 18-year-old was their long-lost daughter.
“The first meeting was beautiful. It was wonderful. It couldn't have went any better,” Aiken said after the reunion at the Walterboro Police Department. “It's a feeling that you can't explain. It's hard to put into words right now. We are just trying to process it -- 18 years. It's going to be hard to make that up. I just can't describe it.”
Police said the newborn was taken in July 1998 by Gloria Williams, who posed as a nurse to get close to Shanara Mobley and then took the baby under the pretense of getting her medical treatment.
Instead, she left the hospital with the hours-old child and wasn't found for 18 years.
Aiken said he never gave up hope that his daughter would be found alive.
“I always thought I would find her,” he said. “For anybody that lost hope, just keep hope alive. Keep praying. Keep fighting. If it happened to me, it could happen to anybody.”
Aiken said he's not sure where things will go from here, but he's grateful he got to meet Alexis and tell her that he loves her. He said he hopes Alexis will come to Jacksonville soon, but that it's up to her how things move forward.
“We are taking it one step at a time,” Aiken said.
Aiken said the family has been overwhelmed by the attention garnered by Friday's announcement that Kamiyah had been found. Local, national and international media outlets have contacted them hoping to learn more about the dramatic discovery, but the family has asked for privacy now as they deal with the aftermath of the news.