A woman who admitted she posed as a nurse, stole a newborn baby from a Florida hospital, and then raised the baby as her own daughter took the stand during her own sentencing hearing Friday morning. The child, Alexis Manigo, didn’t know the truth until she was 18 years old, and first met her biological family in 2017. Her name at birth was Kamiyah Mobley.
Williams, who was eventually caught, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and interference with custody, a third-degree felony. A plea agreement states Williams could be sentenced to anywhere between zero and 22 years on the kidnapping charge and anywhere between zero and five years on the custody charge. Williams has been in jail for the last sixteen months pending sentencing.
Williams grew up in New York City, she said, but moved to the South. She obtained her GED at age 17, married at age 22, and had two children. Her husband was an officer in the military. They eventually divorced. She went back to school at age 48.
Williams wound up in an abusive relationship with Charles Manigo, she said. The abuse was verbal and physical. She was bruised. At one point, she was choked until she passed out. At another point, her arm was pulled out of a socket, which eventually required surgery and the insertion of screws. She was afraid to bring the police into the situation, she said. Describing the relationship, she said:
“The only person who can change somebody is God. 22 years later, I don’t have the bruises anymore, and God has healed my heart. I don’t hate him, but he took me to a place that was dark, but my soul, my spirit was broke, and I don’t wish that on anybody. I lost my kids . . . my baby. I lost a lot.”
Williams said she became pregnant by Charles Manigo in 1998. Despite the abuse, he was happy. Manigo presumed the birth of his child would be a path to his own stability, Williams said. The pregnancy started off well, she said, but the stress from the abuse “didn’t let the pregnancy go on.”
“I miscarried,” she said. Though she called the doctor, she didn’t have insurance. The doctor told her by phone the bleeding she was experiencing was normal. She said medical professionals didn’t want to see her because she couldn’t afford to pay for services.
Williams said the rest of her body continued to respond as if she was pregnant, even though she had miscarried the baby.
Ultimately, in the spring or summer of 1998, her two other children were taken away to live with their father, her ex-husband. Her current abusive partner, Charles Manigo, was arrested.
It was in this environment that Williams admitted on July 10, 1998, to stealing a baby.
“I left work. I was heading home,” she said, “I just felt I was on autopilot.” Rather than take her normal route home, she took Interstate 95 south and crossed into northern Florida with no sense of where she was going or what she would do. “My life was out of control. I lost everything.” At the time, she said she did not know she had lost the baby she had been carrying. She said she did not want to turn to family members for support because she always was smiling and cheerful around them.
She didn’t have much packed. She had gifts from a baby shower in the car with her.
When asked what she was thinking, Williams said, “I couldn’t really tell you, but it wouldn’t have been good.”
She got off the highway in Jacksonville. When asked her intent, she said, “it wasn’t to take a baby; that’s for sure.”
Williams struggled to describe what she was thinking that day twenty years ago. She continued to describe herself as “broken.”
She eventually entered a hospital. When asked her intention, she said, her intent still was not to take a baby. “I sat there fighting with myself, I guess. I did go to the floor and look at the babies in the ward. I just looked at them, and thought of the baby I lost.”
Here, Williams contradicted her earlier statement that she did not know she had lost the child she was carrying. During her statement, she was not pressed on the discrepancy.
Williams eventually entered the room occupied by Kamiyah Mobley’s birth mother, Shanara Mobley. Williams talked to the mother. The mother wanted to get cleaned up. Williams went down the hall and got her a fresh gown. She talked about her family. No one else was there.
Hospital ultimately brought Kamiyah Mobley into the room to see her birth mother.
When asked what was going through her mind, Williams said, “I don’t know. I just . . . I was thinking about . . . maybe this baby can help Charles,” her abusive partner.
“After me and Ms. Mobley was talking, she was so young, she was unsure what she was going to do . . . my mindset at that time wasn’t logical; it definitely wasn’t logical. For what I was thinking at that time, it seemed right. It seemed right.”
Williams then admitted to taking Kamiyah Mobley back to South Carolina. Williams changed the baby’s name to Alexis but did not change her birthdate.
“Alexis was a doll baby; she was a joy,” Williams said. When asked what it meant for her to take a baby home, Williams said, “My mind was gone; it really was. I thought this would bring piece to the house; the abuse would stop; the violence would stop. It didn’t.”
Eventually she realized Mobley, her partner, could not be around the baby she stole, so she left him.
She eventually left her abusive partner.
Williams said she provided dental and medical care for the child she stole. She said she raised the baby to be respectful to adults, to go to school, and to do chores. The child played a role in clubs, organizations, and church. Eventually, Alexis wanted to go to college.
When Alexis was 18, the truth came out.
Gloria Williams flipped through photos and items from the life of Alexis Manigo/Kamiyah Mobley from the witness stand, including photos, certificates of achievement, and diplomas.
Williams said she was the one who told Alexis she was really Kamiyah Mobley. It happened when Alexis had a job interview scheduled. Alexis needed
“I started crying. She was like, ‘what’s wrong?’ I said, ‘sit down, I have to tell you something.’ We were outside on the front porch. I told her, I said, ‘you’re not my child. I took you a long time ago.’ She didn’t understand . . . I guess, when I started crying, she [knew] something was wrong. She still didn’t believe me.”
Williams used her phone to pull up Kamiyah Mobley’s missing poster.
“That does look like me,” Alexis said.
“Yeah, that’s you,” Williams replied.
Williams offered to turn herself in. Alexis didn’t want her to do it.
Eventually, Williams did turn herself in. Alexis didn’t initially want to turn over her DNA. Williams told Alexis not to argue, that the truth was on the horizon. Alexis wanted her to run. Williams said she couldn’t live that kind of life.
“The truth was gonna come out,” she explained.
Williams was arrested at 4 a.m. on a warrant. She was in her nightclothes. The detectives allowed her to say goodbye to Alexis when being hauled off to jail.
Clips from a video of that goodbye were played during the sentencing hearing.
“I love you so much,” Williams said to the kidnapped girl. The two stood and sobbed together. The police brought them tissues while recording the interaction. Alexis appeared stunned, shocked, and unsure of her future.
Williams tearfully looked back at the recording. “I’m talking to her,” she said through fresh sobs on the witness stand. “I’m telling her to behave herself, to be respectful to her family.” Williams said she was more worried about Alexis than she was about herself. Alexis was sobbing in the video.
Williams said she encouraged Alexis to get to know her birth parents. She said Alexis has remained in touch with her throughout her criminal proceedings and that Alexis has never asked her to leave her life.
When asked why she didn’t return the child to her birth family, Williams said at first it was “crippling fear; then, I fell in love with her.”
“I fought with myself for so many years” about the situation, she said. “This was out of character, and I was going to get caught. I knew it.”
Read what Williams said to the girl’s parents here.
[Image via screen grab from the Law&Crime Network, Courtesy WTLV-TV.]
[Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to include video.]