An 18-year-old woman who was kidnapped from a Jacksonville hospital 18 years ago when she was a newborn spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America."
The interview aired on the day that the woman accused of taking hours-old Kamiyah Mobley from what was University Medical Center in 1998 made her first appearance before a Duval County judge on charges of kidnapping and interference with custody.
In the interview, the teenager who was raised as Alexis Manigo and continues to go by that name told "Good Morning America" that Williams is the only mother she’s ever known that she forgives her for her crime.
“I was given the best life and everything I ever wanted and needed,” Manigo said. “I had love, especially.”
She said Williams will always be her mother.
“I understand what she did was wrong, but just don't lock her up and throw away the key,” Manigo said. “She loved me for 18 years. She cared for me for 18 years. It did hurt that they had her in cuffs. She's a gentle woman."
Manigo met Saturday with her birth parents, Craig Aiken and Shanara Mobley, in Walterboro, South Carolina, where she was found earlier this month. Williams was arrested the day after a DNA sample from Kamiyah matched hers.
"I feel like I do owe (the birth parents) that, to give them a chance, you know, get to know them," Manigo said.
She realizes her life would have been different had she not been kidnapped, Manigo said.
"When you find out you've got another family, it gives you more love," she said.
Manigo was asked about her thoughts on the investigation during the interview, but declined to answer, saying that she didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize Williams' case. She said she will make a statement to the judge in the kidnapping, but most likely not until the sentencing phase of the trial.