'I never meant to hurt you,' says woman who kidnapped baby 20 years ago

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The woman who stole a baby from a Florida hospital in 1998 and raised her as her own was emotional as she took the stand in her own sentencing hearing on Friday afternoon.

Gloria Williams admitted to kidnapping Kamiyah Mobley and renamed her Alexis Manigo.

The girl was raised in South Carolina until she was 18 years old.

Williams, who was arrested last year, said, at the time of the kidnapping, her thinking wasn’t logical as she had gone through a miscarriage.

“I just love that child so much,” Williams said. “I never meant to hurt you. I never meant to cause you any harm, any pain, any of that.”

Williams’ testimony came a day after the girl's biological mother, Shanara Mobley, took the stand.

Kamiyah said she will always love Williams and asked the judge for a lighter sentence, but the sentence won’t be announced for a few weeks.

When Mobley took the stand on Thursday, she asked the judge that no mercy be shown to Williams, who stole her newborn from her arms.

Mobley testified that Williams preyed on her when she was a naive 16-year-old.

Mobley gave powerful testimony and shared a sweet memory of a moment before her daughter was taken from her.

"When they brought her to my room and I held my baby, she was so beautiful," Mobley said in court. "It doesn't heal now. I'm still hurting. That is my child. I am your mother, Kamiyah! I am your mother!"

Eyewitness News first reported on the case last year, and prosecutors in February released letters and photographs in the 1998 kidnapping of Kamiyah Mobley.

The 52-year-old Williams posed as a nurse at a Jacksonville hospital in 1998 when she approached Mobley eight hours after her daughter, Kamiyah, had been born. She took the baby and disappeared.

Williams took Kamiyah to South Carolina, where she raised her as Alexis Manigo. The ruse began falling apart two years ago when the girl tried to get a driver’s license but didn’t have a valid birth certificate.

Williams was arrested in 2017 and pleaded guilty to kidnapping in March. Judge Mariane Aho could give Williams a 22-year prison sentence.

Past coverage:

Investigators said Williams and Kamiyah had been found living in Walterboro, South Carolina, after someone called a tip in to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

New documents reveal that Williams' husband's daughter is the person who tipped off police.

The documents also reveal that Kamiyah first learned who she was when she applied for a job and the manager asked for her Social Security card.

That's when Williams told Kamiyah why she didn't have one.

The evidence shows Kamiyah even carried a screen grab of the composite baby image that the Sheriff's Office circulated when she was abducted in 1998.

The state attorney's office also released photos of Kamiyah and Williams. They include images of Kamiyah's high school graduation announcement, her high school diploma and the South Carolina home where she was raised.

One of the photos shows a hospital birth announcement card that shows "Manigo" as the last name of a baby girl and "Gloria" as the mother. Prosecutors said Williams altered the card.

After Williams was arrested last year, Kamiyah told Jacksonville investigators, “We knew this day was coming. We just didn’t think this soon,” the documents show.

When Jacksonville investigators first interviewed Kamiyah, she was defiant and told them they would have to get a warrant to make her submit to a DNA swab, according to WJXT.

When that was done, she said, “My mom is not a kidnapper, and ain’t nobody gonna tell me that,” according to the documents.