This story originally appeared on People.com
Kamiyah Mobley, the 18-year-old who was abducted as a newborn from a Florida hospital and raised by her kidnapper in a South Carolina home, may have reunited with her biological parents over the weekend — but the man who she called “dad” for her whole life says he’ll always be her father.
In a new interview with ABC News, Charles Manigo is opening up about the harsh reality of knowing the girl he believed to be own daughter for 18 years was really another couple’s child.
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Mobley was only hours old on July 10, 1998 when authorities say her alleged abductor Gloria Williams posed as a health care worker and took her from a Jacksonville, Florida, hospital maternity ward. According to local reports, Mobley was briefly given to Williams because her family believed she was a nurse, while hospital staff believed Williams was a relative.
Williams was arrested Friday at her home in Walterboro, South Carolina where she and Manigo had raised Mobley — whom he says they had named Alexis Kelly.
“I named her — a a name I had for a year,” a tearful Manigo told ABC News.”She was the love of my life.”
He says his ex-girlfriend told him she gave birth to their daughter when he was away. The two continued to date until 2003, raising Mobley together and sharing custody after they split. He says he was there for her recent prom, among other milestones.
Manigo had no idea Mobley had been kidnapped. Her disappearance in 1998 made national news and continued to garner attention as it turned cold over the years. A series of leads via the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children led authorities to Mobley, authorities said — with DNA evidence confirming her true identity.
Williams, 51, is currently still in jail — charged with first-degree kidnapping and third-degree interference with custody. Mobley was not present at the time of her arrest but appeared in court in South Carolina on Friday afternoon, according to a First Coast News reporter, where she told told Williams she loved her and was praying for her.
“I talk to her every day,” Manigo said. “The attention is overwhelming to her. She’s still processing everything. It’s a shock to me, it’s a bigger shock to her.”
“One of the hardest things she said on Friday was, ‘Dad I love you,’ even though she knows what’s going on,” he added.
Manigo said that even though he’s not her biological father, he will always be there for Mobley. “She’s still my child,” he explained. “I love her just as much — that’s not going to change. She’s the love of my life. She’s my child.”
Mobely and her biological family — father Craig Aiken and mother Shanara Mobley — reconnected on Saturday in a 45-minute private reunion at the Walterboro Police Department on Saturday, CBS affiliate WCSC reported.
“First meeting was beautiful, it was wonderful, couldn’t went no better,” Craig Aiken told WCSC. “She was glad to meet us.”
He said he’s still in shock — and told Mobley how much he loved her and missed her.
“It’s a feeling that you can’t explain it, it’s hard to put it in words right now it’s hard to deal with this here right now,” he added. “We are just trying to process it, 18 years, it’s going to be hard to make that up.”