Kidnapped newborn found alive after 18 years

It was a newborn kidnapping case which lay unsolved for 18 years, but Florida police have found the victim alive, living with who she thought was her biological mother.

Kamiyah Mobley was taken from a Jacksonville medical centre on July 10, 1998, by a woman posing as a healthcare worker.

It sparked a major search which hit headlines and captivated the public in the state and across the US.

But after more than 2500 tips in the investigation, it was two leads late last year which would blow the case wide open.

They led police to a woman with the same date of birth, but different name, living 320km away in Walterboro, South Carolina.  

On Thursday night (local time) DNA tests returned a positive result to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. That 18-year-old woman was Kamiyah.

"For law enforcement, even when a case is deemed cold, we're always looking for new information - a tip or an advancement in technology - that furthers that investigation. Those leads and those tips which are diligently followed up by our investigators can lead to critical breaks in any of those cases, this is what we strive for - justice for our victims no matter how long it takes," Sherriff Mike Williams said, prefacing the news conference announcing the outcome. 

"Today I'm announcing such a case." 

Walterboro police arrested 51-year-old Gloria Williams at her home, and charged her with kidnapping and interference with custody. She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Police did not reveal the name Kamiyah was living under. She is now trying to come to terms with the earth-shattering news.

Sherriff Williams says she'd lived her whole life thinking the accused was her biological mother, but a few months ago had an "inclination" she might have been the missing baby.

"She has a lot to process, she has a lot to think about as you can imagine. I can't even begin to comprehend it," said Sherriff Williams.

News of Kamiyah being found alive made her biological family understandably ecstatic.

"They were extremely excited as you can imagine, and just overwhelmed with emotion."

But whether they'll reunite or not is a decision left for Kamiyah. 

"Imagine the gravity of what she has to deal with; I don't know when that decision will be made."

Those who worked on the case over the years were also delivered the good news.

Though the case is almost two decades old, Sherriff Williams says the real investigation is only just beginning.

"We're about as early into this investigation as you can be, and it is as complicated an investigation as you can imagine."

Little is known about Williams' motives. Police don't believe she was a resident of Jacksonville at the time of the kidnapping and are trying to find her links to the area.

She declined to be interviewed by police and is also believed to have a criminal past.

"This is a case we have not seen in this country for a long time - clearly nothing we've dealt with around here. It is a learning process for all of us. There are lots of questions left to be answered."

There are no other suspects in the case.