Kidnapped Newborn Found Alive...After 18 Years
January 14, 2017 3:34 PM   Subscribe

In a story strikingly similar to the MTV show, Finding Carter, 18-year-old Kamiyah Mobley was allegedly taken by Gloria Williams, posing as a nurse, from a Jacksonville, FL hospital in 1998. Williams, who raised Kamiyah as Alexis Manigo, brought her up alongside her other two children. Williams had suffered a miscarriage a few weeks before the alleged kidnapping, so her family did not question the appearance of a newborn. It seems that the situation was discovered by Kamiyah, who suspected she had been kidnapped. Kamiyah's grandmother, Velma Aiken, "prayed she would see her granddaughter before the day she died. 'Everyone broke down in tears' during the conversation. 'We lost her for 18 years,' Velma said. 'We don't want to lose her again.'"
posted by guster4lovers (81 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is an absolute shitshow. Whatever her motivations might have been 18 years ago, Gloria will probably never see the outside of a prison again. Kamiyah only knows her real family as ciphers and now she's found out her entire life was the result of a criminal act. The family she thought was hers is now both criminal and alien. I fear the inevitable movie of the week does not have a happy ending.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:51 PM on January 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


Yet more proof that we should chip children like poodles at birth to avoid this kind of shenanigans.
posted by Megafly at 4:11 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


The security measures in hospitals that have been developed since this happened are pretty good. I'll be damned if I'd have let anyone chip my kids.
posted by padraigin at 4:15 PM on January 14, 2017 [24 favorites]


Sorta weird that the article calls her Kamiyah, since I would bet that she still identifies as Alexis. I'm not sure whether Friday means yesterday or a week before yesterday, but either way, she hasn't had a whole lot of time to assimilate any identity other than Alexis.

Anyway, yeah, totally a sort-of-happy ending that is going to be super complicated for everyone involved.

Before Finding Carter there was the Face on the Milk Carton series, which had a similar plot, although that one jumped through some complicated hoops to exonerate the parents who raised the protagonist from complicity in her kidnapping.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:24 PM on January 14, 2017 [16 favorites]


I thought the article might be using the birth name to 1) connect it with the original news piece and 2) maybe provide some level of anonymity to her (the first few articles I read didn't even have the name her kidnapper gave her). I know it's not a real hurdle (most comment sections seem to have at least one person who gives both names), but any little speed bump that gives her some space could be helpful.
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:39 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


I was curious so I looked up the statute of limitations for Florida and, my take anyway, is that the answer in this case is basically that there is no limitation. I think. Anyway, yea, this happy ending seems to almost be anything but.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:50 PM on January 14, 2017


This must be hell for the kid - who I honestly don't know whether to call Kamiyah or Alexis, because as much as this frames it, I'd bet dollars to donuts she's Alexis in her head. She suspected she'd been kidnapped, and uncovered the truth, and now everything in her world has been blown to bits. Everyone who has been family to her is gone, and her "real family" are complete strangers, who know nothing about her and suddenly have to create a place in their lives for a new person. It's going to be hard for everybody and ... I dunno. I have to wonder who justice is really serving.
posted by kafziel at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


As a parent, it must be a relief to know that your missing child has lived, been raised ok, and is healthy. But damn all the rest of this is hard.
posted by john m at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


Sorta weird that the article calls her Kamiyah, since I would bet that she still identifies as Alexis.

Good point. People's expectations in these kinds of situations don't always align with reality. I was kidnapped to the US by my grandparents and didn't get to have contact with the German half of my family until after I turned eighteen. One of my sisters tearfully and almost angrily confronted me on the last visit I made to Germany, the trip my mom died, demanding to know why I hadn't come back to Germany the day I first turned eighteen, since I was finally free to. By that time, that idea seemed like the most incomprehensible thing in the world to me. I was going to college! I played in rock bands and had so many friends here! I loved America!

But then again, the fact Kamiyah/Alexis came to suspect she'd been kidnapped herself suggests she wasn't feeling completely at home all along. I had always known what my situation was and it was still hard to see it from my sister's point of view and understand what she was trying to say to me (bit of a language barrier between us, too).
posted by saulgoodman at 6:14 PM on January 14, 2017 [66 favorites]


It doesn't seem clear how she found out but I'd love to know. If it was just her intuition and she really pushed it it's absolutely amazing that anyone believed her enough to look into it.
posted by bleep at 6:15 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have to wonder who justice is really serving.

I'm pretty sure that at very least it's serving the family that finally knows that their daughter wasn't murdered, and that the person that subjected them to 18 years of torture is in jail.
posted by tavella at 6:16 PM on January 14, 2017 [40 favorites]


If it was just her intuition and she really pushed it it's absolutely amazing that anyone believed her enough to look into it.

What is to stop someone in this day and age from simply doing a diy DNA test? My mom does genealogy and paid for me to get tested/listed and, all other things aside the company in question flagged someone as probable parent which, of course, was mom since she was already in their system.

I guess I'm just wondering if it might have been as simple for the young lady in question as snagging her mom's water glass one night or a bit of hair from her hairbrush and sending in the sample, along with hers, off to see if her suspicions were justified.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:22 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


What is to stop someone in this day and age to simply do a diy DNA test.
If I were going to come up with scenarios for how she figured this out, I would guess that she was curious about her father, did 23&Me with the hopes that she'd get a matching family member, and then came up with a match who led her to references to the kidnapping.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:32 PM on January 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


BRB, must go hold my baby very tight for the next 18 years...

Jesus those poor parents.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 6:57 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that at very least it's serving the family that finally knows that their daughter wasn't murdered, and that the person that subjected them to 18 years of torture is in jail.

Speaking as a parent, what got me about this case was that the young woman still calls the kidnapper "mom." Because, you know, of course she does... but that has to be a whole new kind of agony for her birth family.
posted by No-sword at 6:58 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


Having read the first few books in the Milk Carton series, this is totally damn traumatizing for the girl. Good god.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:03 PM on January 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


These stories are heartbreaking. It doesn't seem possible for them to end well, for the biological families. Or the kidnapped kids. Zephany Nurse. Carlina White.
posted by 41swans at 7:53 PM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


There's another fictional book, too, called The Deep End of the Ocean, where the child kidnapped is a bit older, maybe a toddler, and shows up at his own house, selling newspapers, years later. It's a terrific story, and very hard to imagine real people going through. So much pain.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:06 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


the young woman still calls the kidnapper "mom."

You say "still" as if calling her birth mother "mom" were a possibility.

She's a legal adult now. Unless she were to move in with her birth family, she's never going to develop that sort of relationship.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 9:31 PM on January 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


Two messages to teenagers of the world who are now considering whether they also might have been kidnapped from the hands of more with-it parents by the incumbent pair of psychos:
1. Nope - they're all yours.
2. Careful what you wish for!
posted by rongorongo at 11:39 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


The comments about the name make me think, if i were in that situation, I'd change my name to something completely new. In a situation like this, I'd want to put the past firmly in the past, take the pieces of me I like, and go forward from there.
posted by saysthis at 11:44 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that at very least it's serving the family that finally knows that their daughter wasn't murdered, and that the person that subjected them to 18 years of torture is in jail.
Well, except who is the actual victim? Because the 18-year-old clearly doesn't want her mom in prison, regardless of how her mom got her. The argument is that the parents are the victims (which they certainly are, don't get me wrong!) and therefore their wishes count more? But children also aren't property, so it seems like Alexis' wishes should count for something too. But they won't, because the US system isn't about justice (which is impossible in a case like this anyway); it's about punishing some identified criminal.

(Also, American prisons are evil and they commit torture and literally no one should be subjected to them. But people love their vengeance.)
posted by adrienneleigh at 11:53 PM on January 14, 2017 [22 favorites]


Like, i have zero idea what the "right" answer is here? But certainly putting the kidnapper in prison doesn't fix anything, and may in fact serve to turn Alexis even more against her birth family.
posted by adrienneleigh at 11:54 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm all for 18 year olds being adults and as adults having their wishes considered and honored. However, if someone has kidnapped a baby and has had 18 years to shape their victim's world then I think we have to wait a few years before we start to a lot of weight to the kidnap victim's wishes.

I'm not a big fan of prison but if you've kidnapped a baby you shouldn't be walking around in society especially if you've managed to convince the people around you that you're a normal functioning human.
posted by rdr at 12:30 AM on January 15, 2017 [18 favorites]


Yes, I know it's a tabloid, but this reminds me of what happened to this girl when her biological mother completely ripped her world in half in what I believe was a horrible act of selfishness. Couldn't the mother have waited until her daughter was out of high school before dragging her through hell? Kid never had a chance.


posted by Beholder at 12:39 AM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm not a big fan of prison but if you've kidnapped a baby you shouldn't be walking around in society especially if you've managed to convince the people around you that you're a normal functioning human.
Well, but that's the thing - she is a normal functioning human. She is a normal functioning human who has done a single really terrible thing. And it is a really terrible thing! But it doesn't actually make her an ongoing danger to society. She's not going to kidnap another baby. Her stolen daughter loves her. What does it accomplish, to pretend she is a monster rather than a human being?

"Throw her in prison forever so she can be tortured in her turn" seems to me to be a way of failing to engage with the genuine, insoluble issues of this sort of case. The legal language of "making someone whole" doesn't apply, because there is no way to do that here. The courts don't have access to a time machine, and none of this can be fixed by either money or vengeance.
posted by adrienneleigh at 1:12 AM on January 15, 2017 [24 favorites]


She should still go to prison for a very long time.
posted by shoesietart at 1:19 AM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Well, but that's the thing - she is a normal functioning human. She is a normal functioning human who has done a single really terrible thing. And it is a really terrible thing! But it doesn't actually make her an ongoing danger to society. She's not going to kidnap another baby.

Normal people do not kidnap babies. People who appear to be normal that do kidnap babies are dangerous. They're far more dangerous than the guy living in a van down by the river because we're expecting the guy living in his van to do something awful. Why do would you think that whatever is broken in the kidnapper's brain is somehow fixed?

The kidnapping is not one single act. It's 18 years of sustaining a lie that hurts the victim and her birth family. If the kidnapper really loved her "daughter", she would have told her victim what she'd done and faced the consequences.
posted by rdr at 1:22 AM on January 15, 2017 [23 favorites]


Like, obviously kidnapping is awful and no one should do it. I just legitimately do not know what can even be done other than pointlessly torturing the kidnapper. The birth family can't force their kid to love them; that kind of bond doesn't tend to form without sustained contact. The odds, as someone pointed out in an earlier comment, are not in the birth family's favor. How do you measure the theft of love? What can anyone do about it?
posted by adrienneleigh at 1:30 AM on January 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Normal people do not kidnap babies.

Normal people commit every sort of crime, including kidnapping babies. There's not much point making laws aimed at crazy people; they're unlikely to pay attention to them and if they're sufficiently crazy they can't even be punished. From the report it sounds as though the captor may have been at least somewhat crazy at the time she kidnapped the baby, and then it was too late: it was either keep up the pretence, or destroy the rest of her life. I know what the moral choice would have been, but I could understand someone being being to weak to do it
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:54 AM on January 15, 2017 [39 favorites]


Thank you, Joe in Australia, for saying what i was trying to get at in a clearer way.
posted by adrienneleigh at 2:07 AM on January 15, 2017


She's a legal adult now. Unless she were to move in with her birth family, she's never going to develop that sort of relationship.

I agree, but I think that's a whole separate issue. I'm sure her birth family were well aware that (assuming their daughter was still alive) even if they found her she wouldn't even know them, let alone love them. But I wonder if they imagined their kidnaped daughter saying "My mom is not a felon" in her kidnaper's defence. It's infinitely better than learning that your child has been dead for 18 years, but...
posted by No-sword at 2:18 AM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


She should still go to prison for a very long time.

Why, though? What specific or societal good will that serve?
posted by kafziel at 2:32 AM on January 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


I have to wonder who justice is really serving.

One answer to that is everyone else that this might happen to. By surfacing these things and addressing them you hope to prevent them from happening again. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread hospitals already have improved measures because they know this can (could) happen. Whether prison serves this particular purpose is doubtful to me (but I'm no expert - it's supposed to be preventative to others).
posted by merlynkline at 2:43 AM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Well, but that's the thing - she is a normal functioning human. She is a normal functioning human who has done a single really terrible thing. And it is a really terrible thing! But it doesn't actually make her an ongoing danger to society.

The degree of "No harm no foul" rationalization going on here in order to defend a criminal who did massive harm to other people is amazing.

But let's run with the idea of "As long as they aren't going to repeat the crime, Let's keep prosecution out of it." I take it if the family of Kamiyah decided to take revenge and kill the woman who kidnapped their daughter, you wold not want the police to take an interest? After all, they aren't going to repeat the act- what purpose would getting the law involved?

And let's expand that? How do people think about forced marriages? Are we gooing to argue the law shouldn't get involved in that?


Why, though? What specific or societal good will that serve?

What specific or societal good does putting a murderer in prison serve? Why prosecute Bernie Madoff and Jeff Skilling? I man, if they're not going to commit the crime again, and the money is gone. Why pointlessly torture them? Where's the societal good?
posted by happyroach at 3:13 AM on January 15, 2017 [35 favorites]


happyroach, your arguments are valid as fuck ...
posted by oheso at 3:39 AM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


I kind of want there to be a major disincentive to people kidnapping children.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:45 AM on January 15, 2017 [32 favorites]


Well, do you imagine any disincentive would have worked in this case? I don't. It's a hard case, and hard cases famously make bad law, but I think there needs to be some compassion here.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:12 AM on January 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


There is no need for new law. Kidnapping is already illegal. How in the world are people reading this story and deciding that this is a single mistake. You wouldn't read a story about a pedophile and think "That guy is probably ok now. It probably only happened that one time." I'm not advocating jailing the kidnapper out of vengeance. It seems to me that she's an active danger to the people around her. The church attendance, the stable job, raising the kid. That's all just cover. She showed us who she was when she kidnapped a baby and kept her for 18 years.
posted by rdr at 5:34 AM on January 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


If we're going to question the point of putting someone in prison, I think the first person on this situation you'd have to consider is the father. Who went to prison and then started out adult life with a felony sex offense on his record, AND without his child.

I know there's a previously where that issue was discussed at length, but this is clearly yet another case where a black man got the judicial shaft, and it barely got a line in this story.
posted by Dashy at 5:39 AM on January 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


do you imagine any disincentive would have worked in this case?

That's not the point though. If no action is taken in this case then it increases the likelihood that the next person who considers doing this will choose to go through with it because a disincentive might work in *that* case, as it presumably has in many others - we can't really know because those cases don't happen so can't be counted. But we can observe trends in crimes and infer the effectiveness of preventative measures from that.

That still leaves open the question of what the right action to take might be. But 'nothing' doesn't seem like the best answer.
posted by merlynkline at 6:19 AM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


So this woman, tormented by the grief of her miscarriage, becomes temporarily insane and "fixes" the problem by kidnapping. Can one plead "temporary insanity" in such a case?

Only it's not temporary, because it lasted 18 years. Unless she was so insane as to "forget" where the child came from. And is that level of crazy something that can be contained in a single act? Or must is also leak out into the rest of her (and her "adopted" child's) life?

It's obvious that the justice system can't make everything OK again, but can it improve on the situation? The crime not only affects the immediate people involved but society as a whole. Letting her get away with it injures everyone who knows this happened. Even I, who don't see a point to jailing this woman, don't see a point to not jailing her.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:30 AM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Why, though? What specific or societal good will that serve?
Retribution does serve a societal good. If victims feel that the state is taking that retribution, they won't feel compelled to do it themselves.

Obviously it's possible to seriously overvalue that good in our criminal justice system, and for the most part we do. But if if the state completely threw up its hands in this case, I could very much see cold-blooded murder of the kidnapper as a likely result. (obligatory "no jury would convict...") And that's not the society we want.
posted by stevis23 at 6:30 AM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm an adoptee and can't imagine a worse way of finding out that you were raised by an effectively adopted family. She loves the mother who raised her and will never be able to sustain their life together. She has a biological family who will have a wealth of emotional weight that she never knew was there and probably resents. Her life and her name have suddenly become wrong and she asked for none of this.

I don't think there is a good resolution, at least as we want these things. I think that the good resolution will be her learning to deal with and accept this situation as best as she can. The good resolution will be within her, because outside of her it's going to feel like hell.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 6:35 AM on January 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


I agree that our prison system badly needs to be reformed. But committing a devastating crime years ago and living a quiet life afterwards doesn't justify having no consequences. For me it brings to mind the stories of people who have committed murders and not been convicted until many years later. Does that mean that they should be pardoned? Because they 'got away with it?' What does that say to the victim and the victim's families, who have to live with the trauma of the crime?
I mean, this is a tough one. I feel so badly for everyone involved. It does almost lend itself to some pretty broad questions, like what is the function of prison sentences, ideally. Reform? Punishment for a crime? Where does compassion for the convicted party enter and likelihood to reconvict versus a sense of justice for the victim(s)....

I hope that the birth family and their daughter can find a way to find some peace through all this mess. The article I read earlier said they weren't even addressing the big elephant in the room, rather just focusing on the experience of reunion.
posted by branravenraven at 6:39 AM on January 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Throw the kidnapper in prison forever. There is no such thing in the universe as "only once".
posted by JohnFromGR at 6:40 AM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Retribution does serve a societal good. If victims feel that the state is taking that retribution, they won't feel compelled to do it themselves.

I want everyone who is making these arguments to record them so they know exactly what they will reply the next time the idea of "restorative justice" comes up.

If there were ever a crime I could imagine going light on, it's stuff like this -- where the newborn lived (by all accounts) a normal life and punishing the kidnapper (this woman's *mother*) will only poison her relationship with her birth family. Yet people are saying we should lock this woman up for good -- because somehow she might do it again (?) or because we need to set an example of her or because she could have turned herself in after the fact.

Like I said, I saw way more liberals arguing for us to go light on the rapists at Steubenville (despite rape having a sky-high recidivism rate, despite the fact that every one of those men could have walked their asses down to a police station the next day and not only pled guilty without bargaining but als lo offered to testify against their fellow rapists) than I see here.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 7:07 AM on January 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


One clear advantage of the kidnapper going to prision is that she would not be able to interfere with a relationship developing between the child and their birth family. It speaks to an unhealthy comfort with lying and manipulation that she was able to sustain the story for 18 years, and the child is experiencing some (completely understandable) Stockholm syndrome. This is the age when emotional separation from parents should be developing, prision for the kidnapper will ensure it happens without interference from the kidnapper.
posted by saucysault at 7:41 AM on January 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's hard to imagine kidnapping a baby having no consequences no matter the curcumstances behind the act. The love and caring the kidnapper showed to the child does not ameliorate the pain and suffering she caused. It would seem like the US justice system has systematically removed the ability of judges to sentence based on some semblance of insight into the nature of the crime, its context and the ends to be served. So it's likely a fixed sentence is in the kidnapper's future.
posted by diode at 7:55 AM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


The argument is that the parents are the victims (which they certainly are, don't get me wrong!) and therefore their wishes count more? But children also aren't property, so it seems like Alexis' wishes should count for something too

If Kaliyah feels she is not a victim, then she doesn't have any reason to have "victim's rights". The family feels they're a victim, and they are victims. That shouldn't be discarded because this woman had 18 years to brainwash the baby.
posted by corb at 8:44 AM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


One clear advantage of the kidnapper going to prision is that she would not be able to interfere with a relationship developing between the child and their birth family.
I don't think that's how human emotions work. This young woman has relationships, not only with the woman she thinks of as her mother, but also with her extended family, friends, neighbors, etc. It's very unlikely that those relationships are going to go away, regardless of whether her kidnapper goes to prison. I don't think it would be healthy if all those relationships went away: she has enough on her plate without losing everyone she cares about. Right now, she has no relationship with the birth family she has literally never met. Maybe she'll create one, and maybe she won't. As all the articles note, she's an adult, and she gets to choose how much contact she wants to have with them. (That's one big difference with the fictional representations that we're familiar with, which are about minor kids who are forced to move back with their birth families.) What I think would complicate their possible relationship was if the young woman felt a lot of guilt about sending the woman she thinks of as her mother to prison for life. That would be a difficult emotion to wrestle with as you tried to embark on an already fraught new relationship.
If Kaliyah feels she is not a victim, then she doesn't have any reason to have "victim's rights".
Wait, so you're saying that victims only have rights if they feel victimized? I can't believe that you really think that.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:50 AM on January 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


This woman calculatedly drove 2 states away to steal a baby. She dressed in an outfit that would allow her to blend in with hospital staff. She hung out with the baby's 16 year old mother for FIVE HOURS before deciding she'd be a better parent than the baby's mother, the baby's father, and their extended families. She put a newborn in a purse and left.

And you know what? Let's say that she was correct. Mom was 16, Dad was 19 and in jail when the baby was born. Alexis was apparently raised well and is apparently well-adjusted. She's a normal young woman - she cried because her Mom is in jail! Is it cool then to just steal babies from teen moms? I'm a middle-class, educated, infertile woman - can I take a road trip and swipe a baby from a teen mom in a poorer situation? No! It is not right to steal humans of any age.

This isn't the AskMe trope of "hey I parked illegally in Seattle and got a ticket but I didn't mean to and anyway I'm moving away and I'll never park in Seattle again, should still I have to pay the ticket?" This is worse.
posted by kimberussell at 8:53 AM on January 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


so you're saying that victims only have rights if they feel victimized? I can't believe that you really think that.

I see this in the same category as an abused spouse saying "please don't send him to jail for breaking my ribs, he's such a good husband." Yeah, maybe - except for the huge unimaginable fact that he breaks your ribs. Maybe she's a good mom - except for the unimaginable fact that she premeditatedly stole a baby and then lied to her for 18 years.
posted by corb at 8:58 AM on January 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


It's maybe also worth noting that this is my nightmare and the nightmare of many women I know, so it's like this enormous awful crime rising up that it's hard to even begin to see objectively. It's like what kind of woman would do this to another woman, would make her fears come true like this and not even send a note from somewhere saying "your child is still alive"?
posted by corb at 9:08 AM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


This young woman has relationships, not only with the woman she thinks of as her mother, but also with her extended family, friends, neighbors, etc.

And none of those relationships are tainted by the initial act of kidnapping, nor by on-going deception (they all thought she was biologically related). They also have the type of relationship that is not "exclusive" the way a mother-child relationship is. The kidnapper has a long history of deciept, and motivation to disrupt a relationship with the biological family; no one else is in as strong a position to attempt to alienate the child from developing relationships with her biological family. The initial reports I saw identified the source of the "tip" as the daughter herself, which adds an extra layer of guilt to her healing journey.
posted by saucysault at 9:20 AM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


1. The vast majority of prison sentences in America should not have happened 2. American prisons are horrible places in need of sweeping reform 3. YOU SHOULD PROBABLY BE PUNISHED FOR KIDNAPPING A CHILD like it boggles the fucking mind that this is controversial here! Maybe put her in a mental institution instead of a prison but the idea of just shrugging this off is so alien to me that I literally can't wrap my mind around it, and I'd add that 'meh the kid was better off' has been and still is an excuse used to take the children of marginalized people away from their homes throughout the world.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:51 AM on January 15, 2017 [39 favorites]


The kidnapper Mother also apparently has a long criminal record including six evictions so it doesn't sound like the most stable of upbringings.
posted by saucysault at 11:18 AM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


my question is - will the kidnapped girl get any sort of counseling or support? or is her entire world just torn away from her and now she just has to figure it all out for herself? There is an elaborate system in place to punish the wrongdoer, are there any resources allocated to support the innocent victim?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:29 AM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


The "children aren't property" defense of kidnapping is so novel, monstrous, and laughable that I think that my heart might burst. It has left me positively giddy and I don't think I can say anything else about it!!
posted by great_radio at 11:32 AM on January 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


It seems to me that some people here are saying "Life in prison, throw away the key" or "no consequences" are the only options for
Mrs. Williams. Surely that's ignoring a whole spectrum of possibilities in the middle?

If she was suffering from untreated PPD or PPP at the time of the kidnapping, combined with the effects of grief, I think a case could certainly be made for temporary insanity. The true crime, then, is the concealment of the kidnapping. It just seems a bit much to me to give them the same penalty as, say, murder.

The notion of recidivism in her case doesn't hold much water. She no longer has the motive she did 18 years ago, and as others have pointed out, hospitals now have measures to prevent the same kind of crime. I'm neither a lawyer nor a judge, but strict probation seems appropriate to me.

It's not that I have no sympathy for the birth parents. I'm not a parent myself, but someone I'm very close to wasn't allowed to see the body of her dead infant son, and she's never been able to completely shake the idea that he's somewhere out there. I've seen her pain, and I can't imagine how much worse it must be to know that it's true.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:49 AM on January 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


The kidnapping is not one single act. It's 18 years of sustaining a lie that hurts the victim and her birth family. If the kidnapper really loved her "daughter", she would have told her victim what she'd done and faced the consequences.
posted by rdr at 4:22 AM on January 15 [10 favorites +] [!]


THIS. Not only has the kidnapper put the biological parents and their family through hell, she is now putting her "daughter" through hell through her actions. And her biological children and the rest of her family. The kidnapper lived every day of that 18 years looking at face of that child knowing all of this. Whatever her state of mind and motivations in the first place, this makes her supremely selfish. These are not the actions of a truly loving parent.

I feel very much for this young woman; obviously she has complex feelings and needs time, space, and therapy to work it out. But in my opinion, separating the kidnapper from the victim is the first step in allowing her to come to terms with what happened and heal. She needs to understand how the kidnapper's actions have harmed both her and her birth family.
posted by Preserver at 11:58 AM on January 15, 2017 [9 favorites]


I wonder if people are quick to defend the kidnapper because adoption itself has a long history of outright kidnapping, and coercing and dehumanizing young mothers who society decides should be discarded for the sake of "better" people (married, more money etc).

Facing how many mothers have had their children torn from them and are also devastated is hard when we have idealized the idea that young or struggling mothers deserve to be destroyed this way and their pain ignored and the cruelty involved in telling them they are unworthy of their children and must be martyrs if they truly love them.

"You say "still" as if calling her birth mother "mom" were a possibility."

I do not call my mother a "birth" mother because I don't believe all she is to me is a vehicle that I used to become born so that I can discard. She is a human being who gave me my heart and my spirit and my ancestral memories. Adoptees (nor any children or parents) don't have to reflect the depth of what their parents have done to them, but often the ease with which adoptees dismiss what their biological parents have gone through and done for them, and the lack of love they feel is owed when they would say they DO owe love to their adoptive family is part of a societal sickness in how we treat young or struggling mothers and dehumanize their worth.
posted by xarnop at 11:59 AM on January 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


I do not call my mother a "birth" mother because I don't believe all she is to me is a vehicle that I used to become born so that I can discard.

From the girl's prospective, the analogy here isn't adoption -- the analogy is being swapped at birth. It's not some kind of "vehicle [she] used to become born" but someone who gave birth to her whom she was not aware existed (and, unlike adoption, neither did the rest of her family).

Since we're all obsessed with the daughter's ("inappropriate"?) reaction, here's a family study: my uncle was nearly swapped at birth. There was a girl born the same night who was the exact same (blended) ethnicity as my uncle, and the only reason my family didn't take the girl home was because my grandmother was (unusually at the time) awake when she gave birth. If he had been swapped at birth -- if he found out, decades later, thanks to DNA testing, that he *wasn't* the child of the parents who had raised him, would *anyone* expect him to call my grandmother "mom" immediately after he found out?
posted by steady-state strawberry at 3:43 PM on January 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


The Steven Stayner kidnapping case has always stuck with me, because of the way he was used, and because of the way it ended. Not to mention his horrible brother, Cary.
posted by etaoin at 3:57 PM on January 15, 2017


Stealing a baby is literally one of the oldest recorded crimes. Babies, man. There have been times in my life that I wanted a baby so bad I could taste it. If I thought I could have gotten away with no jail time? I'm not saying I would have seriously considered it but I would have been tempted to seriously consider it.
posted by bq at 4:41 PM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


The kidnapper Mother also apparently has a long criminal record including six evictions so it doesn't sound like the most stable of upbringings.

Given that being evicted is not a criminal offence, I don't think her six evictions are likely "included" in her criminal record, and this makes me doubt how criminal that record actually is. But yeah, steal a baby, go to jail. Criminal record before that, or not.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:45 PM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I never said anything to fucking defend the kidnapper, nor did i say there should be "no consequences". I said prison is unlikely to fix anything, and the woman is unlikely to be a danger to other people's children. It frankly disgusts me (but doesn't surprise me) that MeFites are twisting my words that way.
posted by adrienneleigh at 7:11 PM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


[A few deleted; post is not about adoption in general but about a specific situation. And you can discuss without name-calling, thanks.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:29 PM on January 15, 2017


Given that being evicted is not a criminal offence, I don't think her six evictions are likely "included" in her criminal record, and this makes me doubt how criminal that record actually is. But yeah, steal a baby, go to jail. Criminal record before that, or not.

The term "criminal record" is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, but since evictions are done through the courts an part of the public record, you may rest assured that any presentation by just about any agency of someone's history of convictions or even arrests is almost certain to include all their evictions. And it will certainly be trotted out in court to prove someone's criminal history or general criminality, especially with a black defendant.
posted by kafziel at 9:13 PM on January 15, 2017


Determinists on why we should uphold existing laws and punish what we call immoral behaviour:

As an agent with very complex and sensitive control capacities instantiated by my brain – the deterministic result of my genetic endowment interacting with my upbringing – I’m exquisitely responsive to the prospect of rewards and sanctions, whether verbal, monetary, or otherwise. Moral norms control me in ways that only my properly functioning neural wiring makes possible, which is why it makes sense to hold me responsible...

But even if the capacity for responsible agency is based in neural mechanisms, we are of course essentially conscious beings, capable of joy and suffering. Since we want to minimize suffering, our responsibility practices should be as humane as possible. Understanding that people are fully determined to become who they are helps undercut retributive attitudes based on the idea that people just choose their bad character and actions, using a free will that transcends causality.[9] Acknowledging the causal roots of responsible action, we’ll also want to promote physical and social conditions that increase the likelihood that children grow up with intact, norms-responsive brains,[10] and that they’ll want to behave ethically. Both our inclination to punish as a first resort, and the need to punish as a last resort, might diminish should we adopt a fully naturalistic, physicalist view of ourselves.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:58 AM on January 16, 2017


Williams had suffered a miscarriage a few weeks before the alleged kidnapping

This woman was clearly not in her right mind when she undertook this kidnapping. Post Partum Psychosis is a very real thing, and happens to women who have had miscarriages as well as women who have had live or full-term births. I'm honestly very surprised and dismayed to see MeFi come down on the side of "she should be in jail for life!" criminal punishment for mental illness.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:41 AM on January 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm honestly very surprised and dismayed to see MeFi come down on the side of "she should be in jail for life!" criminal punishment for mental illness.

Exactly one comment out of 71 said that.
posted by Preserver at 9:38 AM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


This woman was clearly not in her right mind when she undertook this kidnapping.

Even if that's true, what about the next 18 years? She couldn't spare one moment, one anonymous call or letter to tell the mother her baby was alive and well?
posted by corb at 9:41 AM on January 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


Exactly one comment out of 71 said that.

Actually, nobody said that word for word at all. But a significant number of posters in this thread are in favour of jail for Gloria Williams as evidenced by their own comments.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:35 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Jail is generally the result when you kidnap and imprison someone, yes. It's quite bizarre to me that the first and primary concern of some in the thread is the treatment of said kidnapper be sufficiently tender and understanding. And that the torment of the kidnappee's family is vastly secondary -- victims of a crime she chose to keep committing every day for 18 years. Given that she passed for normal for those 18 years, I think we can be reasonably sure that that she spent at least part of that time in her "right mind". If she was ever not; I'm not the sort of person that decides something is "clearly" true without testimony.

It's possible that sufficient evidence will be presented at trial to justify a non-custodial sentence, or that one will be plea-bargained to reduce trauma for the stolen child, but jail is a reasonable default to expect.
posted by tavella at 1:51 PM on January 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's quite bizarre to me that the first and primary concern of some in the thread is the treatment of said kidnapper be sufficiently tender and understanding.

A willful misreading will get you there, sure. I can only speak definitively for myself, but I suspect many posters in this thread share my sentiment, that the first and primary concern is the mental health and well-being of the kidnappee, and that putting the only mother she's ever known in jail for the rest of her life and telling her that a bunch of strangers are her family now is probably not the best way to do that. I mean, Alexis has certainly been very vocal about her take that it is not.

You can say "oh she should have told Alexis the truth At Some Point", but after what point does it become a not-completely-unreasonable thought to think that having the woman she sees as her mother essentially abandon her to the care of strangers would cause her more harm than good? And how long can post-partum psychosis influence someone's decision-making? It's very easy to ascribe eighteen years of malice aforethought here, and I think it takes a galling lack of empathy to jump to conclusions like that.
posted by kafziel at 2:03 PM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Actually, nobody said that word for word at all. But a significant number of posters in this thread are in favour of jail for Gloria Williams as evidenced by their own comments.

Okay, fine. One person has expressed an opinion that she should be given a life sentence. A significant number of posters are in favor of a jail sentence for the kidnapper if she is convicted. Those two things are not the same.
posted by Preserver at 2:05 PM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


From FindLaw:
Aggravated kidnapping, including the kidnapping of a child under the age of 13, is punished more severely than its non-aggravated counterpart and is classified as a "life felony." Such felonies are subject to a sentence of a term of imprisonment in a state penitentiary for life, or a split sentence consisting of at least 25 years in prison followed by probation or community control for the remainder of the person's natural life; and an optional additional fine of up to $15,000.
So whether you think it's a good idea or not, the best case outcome for Gloria is going to be 25 years in jail and then wearing an ankle bracelet for the rest of her life. More likely she will simply spend the rest of her life in jail. If she is freed at 25 years Kamiyah will be 43 years old, and Gloria herself will be 76. If you read the rest of that article you will see that Florida law doesn't provide much wiggle room about this. Since there is little doubt about her guilt and she technically qualifies for one of the worst aggravating factors (the law really, really doesn't have much sense of humor about kidnapping children) then this is most likely a thing that will happen.

Why is the law like this? As is sometimes pointed out the law is a blunt instrument, and when someone kidnaps a child the outcome is almost never this "good," so the penalty is quite harsh. So really the only hope for leniency is for the governor of Florida to pardon her -- and that would be Rick Scott, so good luck with that.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:32 PM on January 16, 2017


25 years for stealing someone's baby seems entirely appropriate to me.
posted by shoesietart at 1:54 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


I would think it excessive for someone who snatched a kid briefly while not in their right mind (and it looks like insanity is a defense), but a carefully planned kidnapping and keeping them for years? Yeah, can't say I find it wildly out of line.
posted by tavella at 3:13 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


after what point does it become a not-completely-unreasonable thought to think that having the woman she sees as her mother essentially abandon her to the care of strangers would cause her more harm than good?

So, if I were to kidnap and hide away your child, how long do I have to keep it before I'm free from prosecution, and get to keep the kid? Ten years? Five years? I mean come on, a year should be plenty of time to establish I'm a great parent and deserve to have your kid more than you do, right? That is what you're arguing for right? Kidnapping's OK if you get away with it long enough?
posted by happyroach at 10:41 PM on January 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


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