Kamiyah Mobley, the 18-year-old who was stolen at birth from a Florida hospital and raised as Alexis Manigo, defended her abductor, saying she is not a "felon". Gloria Williams, 51, has been arrested for allegedly posing as a nurse and stealing the baby from her biological parents in 1998.
However, in a Facebook post, the teenager wrote that Williams "raised me with everything I needed and most of all everything I wanted. My mother is no felon. The ignorant ones won't understand that.''
Mobley's remarks came as her biological family in Jacksonville was celebrating after being informed that their stolen baby has been found after 18 years. The family reportedly cried "tears of joy" after hearing the news from a detective.
"She looks just like her daddy," her paternal grandmother, Velma Aiken, told The Associated Press after Mobley was reunited with her birth family via video chat on Friday (13 January). Aiken added: "She acts like she's been talking to us all the time. She told us she'd be here soon to see us."
"I always prayed, 'Don't let me die before I see my grandbaby'. My prayer was answered," Aiken told the news agency.
Mobley was abducted when she was just eight hours old. Williams had allegedly posed as a nurse at University Medical Center in Jacksonville on 10 July, 1998, and kidnapped the child. The case had garnered national attention and also featured on television programmes in the US at that time, but with the passage of time became a cold case.
However, police continued to follow all leads they received from different sources. Eventually, a tip received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children led to the abductor, Robert Lowery, a vice president at the centre, said without disclosing the name of the person who gave the tip.
Williams was arrested at her home in Walterboro, South Carolina, early Friday. A DNA test of Mobley confirmed she was the missing baby, who has been living in Walterboro all these years as Williams' daughter.
"She wasn't an abused child or a child who got in trouble. But she grew up with a lie for 18 years," Joseph Jenkins, Mobley's neighbour from Walterboro told the AP.
Tesha Stephens, a cousin of Williams, told reporters on Friday evening that Mobley, whom they have known as Alexis, was now holding up. "This was something brand new to all of us," she said of the incident.
"Right now she's holding up. She's processing everything and she's probably going to have to take this day-by-day," Stephens said of Mobley.