JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The woman accused of posing as a nurse and kidnapping an hours-old baby from a Jacksonville hospital 18 years ago was brought from South Carolina to Jacksonville on Tuesday afternoon.
Gloria Williams, 51, waived extradition at a brief hearing on Friday on charges of kidnapping and interfering with custody for taking Kamiyah Mobley in July 1998 from what was then known as University Medical Center.
The now 18-year-old and Gloria Williams' parents visited Williams at the Colleton County Jail for about 15 minutes Tuesday morning before Jacksonville officers arrived about 1 p.m. to take Williams to Florida.
Jacksonville detectives drove her to Jacksonville, arriving about 4 p.m. She was walked into the building for questioning and booked into the Duval County Jail at 4:37 p.m. The jail website shows she is being held without bond.
Williams will have a first appearance before a judge at 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to jail records.
ARREST DOCKET: Gloria Bolton Williams
Detective Glen Warkentien, who was one of the officers transporting Williams, was one of the original investigators in the missing persons case in 1998. He’s now with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Cold Case Squad.
"It really had to be a gratifying feeling for him to finally be in contact with her and be able to bring her to justice," said Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst.
But Smith said it must have been even more rewarding for the detective to see the young woman whom he had spent years searching for.
"He had to be thinking, 'What is she like? What does she look like?' And then when he got there, I'm sure he just stared at her for a while because, for 18 years, he's been trying to figure out who this person is and where this person is," Smith said.
According to reports, Williams had her own cell in the Colleton County Jail. Smith explained the reasoning behind that arrangement.
"She had her own cell in South Carolina and probably here in Duval County too because it's such a high-profile case. You're talking about someone who kidnapped an infant, and a lot of other women in jail probably have kids and feel that emotion. So she could've been in danger if she were put in general population, so it's best to put her in isolation," Smith said.
Now that she's in the Duval County Jail, Smith said, Williams will likely have limited phone use and limited visitation. He insisted that there is nothing special about her treatment and that she will be prosecuted equally and fairly.
"We're looking at a very high level possibly a capital felony for a kidnapping, so it's a big case," Smith said. "They'll just handle it like they would any other case."
Williams is accused of raising Kamiyah as her daughter. She was arrested after DNA analysis last week matched the 18-year-old, whom Williams had named Alexis Manigo, to Kamiyah.
The teen grew up as Alexis, but now knows she was born as Kamiyah and kidnapped as a newborn. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams described her as being in good health but emotionally overwhelmed.
Kamiyah was only eight hours old when she was taken from her young mother by a woman posing as a nurse at University Medical Center, which later became Shands Jacksonville and then UF Health Jacksonville. A massive search ensued, with helicopters circling the hospital and the city on high alert. Thousands of tips came in over the years, but she was never located.
Some months ago, the young woman "had an inclination" that she may have been kidnapped, when she learned while applying for jobs that her birth certificate and Social Security card were fraudulent.
The case broke thanks to a tip received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said Robert Lowery, a center vice president. He would not say from whom the tip came.
But the center soon reached out to the cold case detectives at the Sheriff's Office, and the 18-year-old provided a swab of her cheek for DNA analysis that proved the match, the sheriff said.
Kamiyah's biological father, Craig Aiken, told News4Jax Tuesday that he's focused on building a relationship with his daughter and is going to let police and prosecutors handle seeking justice.
Certain factors could influence court case, attorney says
After Williams was booked into jail, Jacksonville attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters explained the factors that could help Williams' chance of getting a lesser sentence if she is convicted.
Peoples-Waters said Kamiyah will greatly influence the possible sentence of life in prison if Williams is convicted.
"Kamiyah could also be the person to advocate on behalf of Gloria and say, 'Listen, she treated me so well. This is the only mother I know.' And Kamiyah may be able to have that same influence on her biological parents," Peoples-Waters said.
Nearly two decades ago, Williams lost a child she'd carried for nine months and had a nervous breakdown, a source close to her family told the I-TEAM. Peoples-Waters said that could also increase the chance of the courts showing leniency.
Though Williams' positive parenting track record could play a role in the case, Peoples-Waters said, the prosecution still has a duty to uphold the law.
"That's mitigation for her. However, it does not excuse the offense, and the crime was committed," People-Waters said. "I'm certain the prosecution will take the perspective of, 'We can't let people in society think it's OK to steal other people's children and you raise them to be good people. That we're not going to prosecute those type of crimes.'"
Peoples-Waters said she believes Williams' attorneys, who are not yet known, will likely enter a plea of not guilty on her behalf Wednesday morning.