Alexis Manigo was just a normal teenage girl, living in South Carolina and splitting her time between two loving parents. But one day, she discovered a secret that would change her life forever. The life she had been living was, in fact, a lie – and a lie of one person’s doing. Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction – and in Alexis’ case this is certainly true.
In July 1998 Gloria Williams arrived in Walterboro, South Carolina, with a baby girl. The child’s father, Charles Manigo, had been separated from Gloria at the time of the birth. After the couple reunited, he named her Alexis Kelli Manigo, and the family settled down to a happy life.
Raised alongside two happy siblings, Alexis enjoyed a contented childhood surrounded by loved ones. Her mother, who proved to be such an influence in her life, often took her on days out and constantly showered her with affection.
Even when Gloria and Charles separated again in 2003, Alexis continued to enjoy a relatively stable home life. The couple amicably shared custody of their daughter, so Alexis was still able to celebrate important occasions such as prom night with both her parents.
There were some things, however, that didn’t quite add up. For example, Alexis didn’t have a driver’s license or any kind of identification, and she struggled to find work because her Social Security card was missing.
Nevertheless, nobody could have predicted the shocking story that was about to unfold. In 2016, the telephone rang in a sheriff’s office 200 miles from Alexis’ home – and her life, as it turned out, would never be the same again.
That year, police in Jacksonville, Florida, received two anonymous tip offs which suggested that Alexis might not be the person she thought she was. Moreover, the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children received similar information, and as a result officials sprang into action.
Towards the end of 2016, two detectives arrived in Walterboro and began asking questions about Alexis. Later, they approached the young woman for a DNA sample, although she was initially suspicious and requested a warrant.
When detectives returned with the necessary documentation, Alexis had no choice but to comply with their demands. And later, the results of the DNA test revealed a shocking truth – Gloria Williams and Charles Manigo were, in fact, not Alexis’ biological parents.
In fact, Alexis wasn’t even her real name. The tests revealed that she was actually called Kamiyah Mobley, a girl who had been abducted as a newborn baby in Jacksonville and had been missing for 18 years.
Born on 10 July, 1998, Kamiyah was a mere eight hours old when a woman disguised as a hospital worker approached her mother, 16-year-old Shanara Mobley. She was dressed in a flowery smock and scrubs and, strangely, was carrying a purse.
Kamiyah’s biological father, Craig Aiken, was in jail at the time of his daughter’s birth. However, his mother, Velma Aiken, was present at the hospital. And she thought that there was something strange about the mysterious woman lurking around her newborn granddaughter.
Heartbreakingly, hours later, her fears were realized. The unidentified healthcare worker took Kamiyah away, telling the family that the baby was suffering from a fever. And this, sadly, was the last that Shanara would see of her daughter for 18 years.
Kamiyah’s abduction from her mother’s arms sparked a nationwide hunt. And after no trace of the baby was found at the hospital, the FBI was called in to assist. Because no photographs had been taken of Kamiyah before she went missing, a composite image was released to the public.
Despite a $250,000 reward for her return and national media coverage, Kamiyah was never found. And so Shanara and Craig were left to wonder if they would ever see their baby daughter again. They marked each of her birthdays by freezing a slice of birthday cake and attempted to get on with their lives.
Then, 18 years later, everything changed. Police were finally able to establish the identity of the woman who had walked out of the hospital with Kamiyah in her arms. Her name was Gloria Williams, and she had been raising Kamiyah as her own daughter ever since.
Apparently, Gloria had suffered a miscarriage just one week before the abduction took place. Police, for their part, have yet to determine why she chose to travel to Jacksonville or why Mobley had been targeted for such a terrible crime.
Bizarrely, despite the circumstances, Williams and her stolen daughter appear to have led a “normal” life. They went to family barbecues in the neighborhood, for example, and regularly attended church. And nobody questioned a thing.
Now, the teenage girl caught in the middle of this drama is facing challenging times. Despite the fact that her mother is about to go on trial charged with kidnapping, Kamiyah has nothing but praise for the woman who raised her. “My mother raised me with everything I needed,” she wrote on Facebook. “My mother is no felon.”
Meanwhile, the girl’s biological parents traveled to Walterboro for an emotional reunion with their long-lost daughter. And although they did not know what would come next for their family, they urged other parents with missing children to never give up hope of seeing their loved ones again.