JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A newborn baby taken from a Jacksonville hospital on July 10, 1998, has been found alive in South Carolina and officials have charged a 51-year-old woman with kidnapping, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Acting on recent tips, JSO cold-case detectives traveled to Walterboro, South Carolina, and found an 18-year-old woman with a matching birth date and took a DNA sample, according to Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab Thursday night match that to Kamiyah Mobley.
The 18-year-old was told the results and a search warrant was served, and a woman named Gloria Williams was arrested and charged with kidnapping and interference with custody. She will be extradited to Jacksonville to face the charges.
At a Friday news conference of local, state and federal officials, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said the victim began to have an inclination beginning a couple months ago. Williams said Kamiyah grew up believing the woman who abducted her was her biological mother.
Authorities are not releasing the name the victim has been living under all these years and asked that media and the public give her space to process the news.
"She appears to be a normal 18-year-old woman," Williams said. "She's taking it was well as you can imagine. She has a lot to process."
Kamiyah's family still lives in Jacksonville and was elated to learn she had been found alive.
"They were overwhelmed with emotion," Williams said.
The search for the baby became a national story. The kidnapper, described at the time as being between 25 and 47 years old wearing a nurses' flower-print nurses-style jacket, teal "scrubs" and surgical gloves, was captured in grainy surveillance video, but was never found.
Williams said over 2,500 tips had come into the JSO or National Center for Missing and Exploited Children over the 18 years since the baby was taken, and even though the detectives working the original case had retired, others never stopped working the case.
"Even when a case is deemed cold, we're always looking for new information, a tip or an advancement in technology. This is what we strive for, justice for our victims, no matter how long it takes," Williams said. “This is a case like we have not seen in this country in a long time.
According to reports at the time, the mother had just turned 16 and was befriended by a woman who passed herself off as a Mobley family member to the hospital and a medical professional to the mother. The father was in jail on a charge of lewd assault because of having sex with a minor.
The mother sued the hospital and was awarded a $1.5 million settlement. She has since had three more children.
After the kidnapping, the University Medical Center, which became Shands Jacksonville, then UF Health Jacksonville Medical Center, also added wristbands and ankle bands for newborns, along with limiting access to the maternity ward, security and instituted kidnapping drills.
Other hospitals in Jacksonville and across the nation increased security in their maternity wards.
Walterboro is a city of about 5,400 people located about 50 miles west of Charleston.