Circulating the news this week is the story of Kamiyah Mobley: A Florida teenager who was abducted as a newborn merely hours after being born.
The woman who stole her was Gloria Williams. She was arrested at her home last week for the kidnapping of Mobley – 18 years after the crime. She was charged with first-degree kidnapping and third-degree interference with custody.
In July 1998, Williams posed as a nurse at the University Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida and stole Mobley eight hours after her birth. She raised the newborn girl as her own. And for 18 years, Mobley thought Williams was her mother.
The only piece of evidence surrounding the case was a grainy hospital surveillance video which recorded the abduction.
Dressed as a nurse, Williams fooled Mobley’s parents into thinking she was a medical professional, while simultaneously passing herself off as a relative to the hospital staff.
The mysterious crime gained national attention when it occurred.
Williams was known as a “church-going woman” who once worked for a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and led a church youth program.
But a look at her background report revealed an extensive criminal record. She has been found guilty of welfare fraud and writing fraudulent checks.
How common are hospital abductions?
According to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, between 1983 and 2016 there have been 133 newborn abductions from health care facilities alone. Of those 133, five are still missing.
In some of these cases, violence was done to the mother to steal the child.
A parent’s worst nightmare
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children analyzed the characteristics of a “typical” infant abductor and found certain commonalities.
The first being they are usually a female of childbearing age who appears pregnant. She is most likely manipulative and deceptive, and will carefully plan the abduction by visiting nursery and maternity units and asking detailed questions about procedures and hospital layout.
Cathy Nahirny, a senior analyst on infant abduction cases at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children said, “My perspective is that infant abductors are the best con artists out there.”
Why would anyone want to steal an infant?
Crazy as these reasons sound, here are common motivations of newborn abductors:
Unable to have a child
Suffered a miscarriage
Attempting to hold onto a male partner
Envious of motherhood
To sell a newborn on the black market.
It could be a case where a woman feels pressure to produce a child for her partner. She might have had a miscarriage and “has it in her head [that] he’s going to leave” if she doesn’t produce a child. According to Nahirny, “Because she has already announced to her male partner that she’s pregnant, the relationship may be warming up. She’s afraid to tell him she has had a miscarriage.”
In addition to these unfortunate and twisted emotional reasons, newborn trafficking is also a motivator of abductions. This sick scam involves abductors stealing newborns and selling them to unsuspecting adoptive parents. The infamous cases of “Gertie’s Babies” and “Hicks Babies” in the U.S. reveal these rare, but real, tragedies can occur here, and are unfortunately even more common overseas.
Recommendations for preventing newborn abductions
To prevent newborn abductions before they happen, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children provides a list of precautions hospitals should take.
Awaiting parents should also take note of some of these tips, including:
Do not hand your baby to anyone not wearing an authorized staff badge.
Check and compare the ID bracelet you and your infant share every time your baby is brought to or taken from you.
Keep a direct line of sight with your infant. Have a trusted family member nearby if you need to use the restroom or take nap.
Ask the hospital if anyone from the hospital will be doing a follow-up at your home. Be cautious of anyone who appears at your door claiming they’re from the hospital.
Be careful with birth announcements both on and offline. It’s safer not to mention the mother’s name or address when announcing the birth of your baby.
Though infant abductions are rare, they do happen. This terrifying criminal act may be prevented by vigilance, so to all future parents: Be aware of the traits of abductors and take precaution when in the hospital.