The South Carolina woman who allegedly stole a newborn baby nearly 20 years ago before raising it as her own has pleaded not guilty.
Gloria Williams made national news last month following her arrest on allegations she took a child from her mother hours after she was born in Jacksonville in 1998.
On Thursday, Williams reportedly faced a judge in Florida and proclaimed her innocence after she was formally charged with kidnapping.
About a month earlier, 18-year-old Alexis Manigo was identified as the person missing from Jacksonville since 1998 through a DNA test after two leads led police to South Carolina, where she was living with Williams, according to police.
Though Manigo had a different name, detectives learned her identity was established with fraudulent documents and they collected a DNA sample to be tested against the missing newborn’s DNA available at the hospital, according to reports.
According to reports from the time of the kidnapping, Kamiyah’s mother, Shanara Mobley, believed a woman who came into her room after she gave birth was a medical professional, while the woman passed herself off as a family member to hospital staff.
Shanara Mobley went on to sue the hospital and was awarded a $1.5 million settlement, according to CharleyProject.org. She has since had three more children.
Manigo, meanwhile, has been reunited with her biological parents. And while happy to now know where she comes from, the teen has told reporters she has mixed emotions about the jailed woman she still thinks of as her mother.
“I understand what she did was wrong, but just don’t lock her up and throw away the key like everything she did was awful," Manigo told Good Morning America.
Following the kidnapping, the hospital, now known as UF Health Jacksonville, implemented a system where all newborns must wear wristbands and ankle bands.
It also limited access to the maternity ward, added security, and instituted kidnapping drills, according to reports.
Williams was arrested at her home in Walterboro, South Carolina, on January 13.
She is due back in court in April.