A young lady from South Carolina found a dark secret from the past that changed her life forever
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For a girl who’s excited to become a responsible adult, being able to go to college and get the job of her dreams appears to be a logical plan. With a positive outlook on life and a determined attitude, Alexis Manigo from South Carolina thought that achieving her goals was an easy feat. She has a loving and responsible mom who’s always there to guide and support her career endeavours. All she ever wanted was to give back the love she was given.
But, as this young woman was about to show her gratitude to the single mom, who raised her alone, by searching for a job while aspiring to go to college, she had no idea that she would stumble upon a dark secret from her childhood that had been kept from her for almost two decades. The revelation shook her world to its core and the events that followed can be only described as a cut between a beautiful dream and a nightmare.
A Wonderful Childhood
Alexis Manigo grew up in the beautiful and peaceful community of Walterboro, South Carolina. She was raised by Gloria Williams, a single mom who gave her everything she needed. Though she grew up without a father figure, her adorable mother did everything she could so that she would never feel incomplete.
Alexis has two older brothers who also treated her like a princess. She was the apple of the family’s eye in the house. Her mom even nicknamed her “doll baby”. Although they don’t live like the rich and the famous, Alexis was extremely thankful for everything they had. It was a challenge for her mother to raise them, given her past experiences in her married life.
A Dark Past
Long before Alexis came, Gloria Williams’ life was a living hell. Her marriage had failed and she was lucky enough to get custody of her two sons. Although she didn’t have an idea of how she would raise her two kids alone, Gloria knew that she wouldn’t be able to live without them.
Just as her luck was beginning to turn, Gloria met Charles Manigo. He was a natural charmer. Charles was extremely nice to her as well as to her sons. It didn’t take long for Gloria to fall in love with him. But when they decided to live together under one roof, that’s when the horror began.
The sweet and loving boyfriend slowly showed his true colors. Charles began to abuse her verbally. Gloria thought she could just shrug those abusive words off. Although she was hurt, she tried to hide her pain from her kids. Gloria kept on hoping that her relationship with her boyfriend would be rekindled. After all, she had known him as a nice and loving guy. Every night, she prayed that Charles would become the man he used to be.
But when he started to hurt her physically, Gloria felt that she was on the journey back to hell once again. Still wanting to save her relationship with Charles Manigo, Gloria learned to accept her boyfriend’s personality and whenever Charles beat her, she would often hide her bruises by using makeup or by concealing them beneath her clothes. But after some time, she found it hard to fool everyone around her that everything was fine.
As the years went by, it became harder and harder for Gloria to pretend that everything was fine. Her growing sons had noticed her bruises and they began to ask questions. Soon enough, Charles began to hurt her sons as well. It was too much for the mother who tried to take everything on alone. But her pain didn’t end there.
When her ex-husband got the news that she was living with an abusive boyfriend, he stepped into their lives once again and demanded custody of her two sons. His argument was strong enough. The boys were growing up in a violent environment. Needless to say, Gloria was left devastated. But then something happened.
Was it a Sign?
In 1998, Gloria got pregnant. She was on the verge of leaving her boyfriend but took her condition as a sign that there’s still hope for the relationship. He was a bad man, but she loved him with all her heart. In her mind, her bruises would heal. She was determined never to give up on him. She figured that her body could take those punches anyway.
Charles told her in the past that he wanted a baby. Gloria thought that now that it had happened, he would change and love her like he once did. But, she was wrong. Charles continued to beat her, stealing her self-respect and self-esteem. She was pregnant with his baby and yet he showed no mercy. Finally, Gloria had given up trying. At last, the abusive relationship came to an end. She was ready to face a new chapter of her life.
Struggling to Build a Home
So beautiful and with a smile that can melt every mother’s heart, Alexis brought back joy to Gloria’s life. Her sons came to her again when they found out she had ended her relationship with Charles Manigo. After all that she had been through, Gloria was able to smile again because of her three children.
During her relationship with Manigo, Gloria had learned many lessons. And now, she had enough of those men. Instead of falling into depression, Gloria sought help from her family. She applied for a job and began to live anew. Things were looking up.
A Source of Inspiration
Whenever Gloria thought that the world had turned its back on her, little Alexis would come to her and hug her. Her sons were mostly away because of school and the little girl soon became her source of inspiration. She promised herself that even if her life was hard, she would never allow what happened to her to happen to her children, especially to Alexis.
Fortunately, the siblings formed a close relationship with each other. The brothers and the sister shared a strong kind of bond. Perhaps, in their young minds, they knew that their mother had endured so much pain and heartache from Charles Manigo. All they ever wanted was to make her feel that she has them and that they love her. The family tried to live as normal a life as possible.
Exploring the World
Alexis didn’t have too many memories of Charles Manigo. When she spoke her first words, when she learned to walk on her own, her mother Gloria was always there for her. Her brothers were an added delight.
When she went to learn her ABCs, Alexis remembered how patient her mom had been with her. She accompanied her to kindergarten and treated her like a princess. They were not rich, but Gloria provided her with everything a kid could wish for. Their house was full of love. When Alexis got older she wanted to go to college. And for that dream, she would need a job.
Going After Her Dreams
Because her mom was the only one who provided for the family, Alexis knew she had to get a job to support her studies. Her mom had even expressed her desire to accompany her in checking the colleges near their hometown. She wanted to help her and thought of a surprise.
With the help of her friends, Alexis tried her luck and looked for a job. It seemed easy. But when she was asked to provide the necessary requirements, it was then that her nightmare began.
Baffled and Confused
For 16 years, Alexis had never given much thought to her personal documents. But when she was asked to submit her social security number, she found it hard to get one. All she had was her birth certificate. Without a social security number, her dream of going to college would just be a dream.
Confused and wondering why she was having a hard time obtaining proof of identification, Alexis thought of the only person who can help her. Her mom had always known the answer to her problems. She only wanted her mom’s assistance, but Alexis had no idea that her life was never to be the same again.
A Dark Secret Was Finally Revealed
Sitting side by side on the porch of their house, Gloria used all of her courage, to tell Alexis the truth. “I am not your mother.” The words were whispered but it sounded like thunder to the young woman’s ear. She looked at her mom’s solemn face and knew she wasn’t joking. Why would she be?
It took a few minutes for Alexis to understand what her mother was saying. She was not a little kid anymore, but she felt like crying. What made her heart break even more was that she wasn’t even adopted. The situation was far worse than that.
Snatched Away From Her Parents
Perhaps, Gloria had rehearsed everything for years. Alexis looked at her face and she appeared so calm. She realized that her mother knew the moment of revelation would eventually come.
What she was hearing only seemed possible in movies. At least, that’s what Alexis thought. Gloria Williams, the woman she had loved and respected for so long, was not her biological mother. She was not adopted, not legally. She was kidnapped.
Her Real Identity
On July 10, 1998, Alexis Manigo was born in a hospital in Jacksonville. She was the daughter of Shanara Mobley who was just 16 years old at the time of delivery. Her father goes by the name Craig Aiken. The couple named their daughter Kamiyah Mobley.
She was just eight hours old when she was stolen from the hospital. The frantic mother was just recovering and she didn’t even have a photo of her as a baby. The kidnapping became sensational and even sparked a nationwide manhunt.
Shanara Mobley told the police what happened on the day her baby was kidnapped. According to her, a woman who wore a nurse uniform went in and asked her how she was feeling. Still a little groggy, Shanara didn’t even bother to ask the name of the nurse. She was confident that she was one of the medical staff in the hospital. Mobley even shared with the nurse that her boyfriend, Craig Aiken, was incarcerated at that time because he impregnated her when she was only fifteen.
Witnesses of the kidnapping incident had said that the kidnapper was wearing a wig and thick eyeglasses, evidently to conceal her real identity. There was no sign of haste in her movement when she took the baby. The authorities worked on finding the culprit and the baby. However, all they had was a computer-generated composite of her face. To make it easier for the police and other people to identify her, her distinctive features were included in reports. Little Kamiyah had Mongolian spots and an umbilical hernia. However, the search led to no success.
For a parent, losing a kid is the worst kind of nightmare. Shanara can’t help but blame herself for being so young, trusting, and naïve. If she had been more vigilant, perhaps Kamiyah would have never been stolen from her.
At the height of her depression, her family and friends, along with the government, raised the money they could use as a reward to anyone who could give them a lead to the baby’s whereabouts. But with no clear picture of the baby as well as the kidnapper, it was like searching for a needle in a haystack.
In the first few months, Shanara and Drake relied on the help of the police and the media. The kidnapping incident was big news in Jacksonville and it had sparked terrors in the heart of the residents. On national TV, the young couple cried and pleaded for the return of their baby. But their efforts weren’t rewarded with any positive outcomes.
With the help of their families and friends, they walked the entire state, distributing and posting the computer-generated image of the baby. They asked for help from other organizations in the country. But as years went by, their hopes of finding their baby began to fade away. Even the policemen who were investigating the case had to move on to other cases. The community soon forgot the incident. But for the devastated parents, what happened will burn in their memories forever.
A Daughter’s Love
When Gloria Williams finished her confession, Alexis was crying. It was a total shock. But looking at the woman who had raised her alone, the young woman was surprised to feel no remorse at all. From the earliest moment she could remember, her mom had been the kindest and the most loving mother in the world. She could not find it in her heart to hate her.
After the revelation, Alexis didn’t find the courage to look for her biological parents. She could have easily found them if she wanted to, but something in her was telling her not to. She was not ready to face the truth. But as they say, the truth, no matter how long it takes to be unveiled, will eventually come out in the end.
Finally Seeking the Truth
Alexis was already 17 years old when she decided to connect for the first time with her biological mother. She easily found the contact along with the news about her kidnapping back in 1998 online. When she heard her mother’s voice for the first time, Alexis couldn’t think of anything to say so she dropped the call. Another year went by before the authorities had found a lead. In January 2017, Gloria Williams received the call she had feared all her life. It was from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The authorities wanted to see her as well as her daughter Alexis. Although she knew what was about to happen, she calmly told her daughter that they needed to show up together.
Fearing what would happen, Alexis pleaded with Williams to run away. Williams explained, “She wanted me to run. I told her I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t leave her. I couldn’t do it. You know? I couldn’t have a life like that. I was already in this for too long.” In the state, kidnapping is a serious crime and the young woman was almost sure Williams would be punished. When they reached the Sheriff’s office, a DNA sample was collected. Needless to say, the result sealed Williams’ fate. When Alexis Manigo matched the sample from Shanara Mobley, the result was crystal clear. It’s as if the room had instantly sprung to a motion. In no time at all, police officers were assigned to contact the Mobley family to share the good news. But it was not good news for Williams. She was arrested.
The authorities at Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office were amazed to see that Kamiyah, who willingly goes by the name Alexis Manigo, appeared healthy and unharmed. Judging by the way the young woman talked to her kidnapper mom, they can say that they share a strong bond.
But laws are laws. No matter how well Williams had raised Kamiyah, she still has to face the judgment. She had snatched her away from an innocent family and no one knows how much the Mobley and the Aiken families have suffered because of her wrongdoings. It was time to set things straight.
The Most-Awaited Reunion
Kamiyah Mobley, despite the tumultuous events around her, had connected with her biological family over FaceTime and planned for a reunion. They had waited for so long and they couldn’t wait another day to do so. Shanara was almost floating on air when she saw her baby who was now a young and beautiful woman.
The first hug between Shanara and Kamiyah had made almost everyone weep. The emotions that were held inside for eighteen years had been poured out. The biological mother didn’t know where to start, what to say, she just cried. She felt too happy to speak. Shanara kept on telling herself that they will catch everything up in the days to come. However, she had no idea that it would never be that easy.
Caught in Between
There was no doubt in Kamiyah’s heart that she wanted to know more about her biological family. She had learned that she had brothers and sisters. She grew up with Williams’ two sons who loved her dearly. It was nice to know after all these years that she has a big family. However, no matter how much she wanted to make everything alright, she couldn’t help but think of Williams’ situation.
The mother she’d known for 18 years was charged with kidnapping and federal custody interference. She is in jail and is facing the possibility of a life sentence. Kamiyah knew she couldn’t take it. Despite knowing the truth about her identity, Kamiyah couldn’t feel any hatred for Williams. She had given her life for her and her brothers.
The Reason for the Kidnapping
A week before Shanara gave birth to Kamiyah, poor Williams had suffered a miscarriage. “After the abuse and stuff, I think the stress from all of that, it just didn’t let the pregnancy go on — I miscarried”, Williams explained. She was beaten and abused and was devastated when her two sons were taken away from her. From South Carolina, she had no clear idea why she ended up in Jacksonville, Florida.
To kidnap an innocent baby from Shanara Mobley wasn’t planned. At that moment, Williams thought that she had nothing, that she had no one to turn on to. She had thoughts of returning the baby to the frantic parents who were searching for her, but every time she looked at Alexis, she couldn’t find it in her heart to do so. Williams asked for forgiveness, but it never helped her in court.
Supporting Her All the Way
During the trial, Kamiyah made it clear to everyone that she would never turn her back on the woman who raised and loved her as if she was her own. She always visits her in jail and talks to her every day. She also pleaded that the punishment for Williams will be lighter than what her biological family was seeking, which was either a life sentence or death.
For the Mobley and Aiken families, Williams will always be the woman who robbed them of their daughter. Shanara shared in an interview how heartbreaking it is to compete with a kidnapper for the attention of their daughter. Although Alexis had legally adopted her birth name, the truth still remains. She will always treat Gloria Williams as her mom.
With the help of the authorities, Kamiyah Mobley obtained the necessary documents needed so that she could go to college and apply for a job. In the years that followed after the arrest of Williams, her relationship with her mother had experienced its own share of ups and downs. Shanara, up to this point, was hurting because Kamiyah was still communicating with her abductor. She wished for her daughter to cut ties with Williams so that they could start a new life. Shanara expressed her hurt when she said, “I shouldn’t have to compete with a kidnapper – she has to pick one of us.”
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Gloria Williams was sentenced to serve 18 years in prison. It was a sad ending for a woman who had been abused in the past. But no matter what her reasons were, she simply couldn’t escape the reality. She’s already in her late 50s. Her battle will start in prison. Shanara, on the other hand, has to stay strong and be patient. She keeps on hoping that one day, Kamiyah will love her the same way she loved the mother she’d known in the past.
There is nothing quite as powerful as a bond between a mother and her children. Up next is the story of how Grace Kivisto was forced to grieve for her mother when she was just fifteen years old and why, forty years later, she experienced some unwanted and unexpected emotions when she learned shocking news about her mom’s death.
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