Dad's Heartbreak: Girl He Raised as His Own Was Really Kidnapped as a Newborn
Police say his former girlfriend kidnapped the girl as a newborn.
— -- One father's joy was another father's heartbreak, after Charles Manigo learned that the girl he raised and believed to be his own daughter for 18 years was really another man's child.
"I named her -- a name I had for a year. Alexis Kelli," Manigo said. "She was the love of my life."
But what Manigo didn't know was that his former girlfriend, Gloria Williams, had allegedly snatched the girl from a maternity ward, and lied when she told him she'd given birth to the baby when he was away. The girl he called Alexis was really Kamiyah Mobley.
Mobley's biological father, Craig Aiken, was overjoyed that she'd finally been found, and said that all those years he and her biological mother would celebrate their daughter's birthday every year and imagine "how it would be if she were here" and "what we would do if she came came back," he said Friday, after officials announced that the girl was now returned to her birth parents.
"I love her," Aiken said. "I'm glad to see her. I love her."
Mobley grew up in Walterboro, South Carolina, thinking that Williams was her biological mother, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Friday. He said that she now appears to be a normal 18-year-old woman in good health.
Gloria Williams, 51, is in jail, charged with kidnapping for allegedly taking the newborn from a Jacksonville, Florida, hospital on July 10, 1998.
Manigo and Williams raised her from the time she was a newborn, sharing custody after they split up in 2003, and celebrating milestones together, like her prom, he said.
"The person she called dad for 18 years isn't her dad," Manigo said.
Williams was charged with kidnapping at a bond hearing on Friday in South Carolina. Bail was denied and another bond hearing will be held once she is extradited to Jacksonville, Florida, according to the sheriff's office.
"One of the hardest things she said on Friday was, 'Dad I love you,' even though she knows what's going on," Manigo said.
"I talk to her every day," he said. "The attention is overwhelming to her. She's still processing everything. It's a shock to me, it's a bigger shock to her."
Manigo said that even though he may not be Kamiyah's biological father, he will always be there for her.
"She's still my child," he said. "I understand what's going on, but she's still my child."
Editor’s note: This article was amended after publication to correct the spelling of ‘Alexis Kelly’ to 'Alexis Kelli.’