WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) - Friends and neighbors on Friday said the 18-year sentence handed down to child kidnapper Gloria Williams is too stiff.
Williams lived in Walterboro with the daughter she kidnapped from a Florida hospital until she was arrested last year.
Thelma Williams lives just down the street from Gloria Williams. Williams, who is not related to Gloria, learned about the 18-year sentence handed down for the convicted kidnapper and said the sentence is too harsh.
"That young lady is alive and well. She nurtured her, took care of her. They were a family, as far as I know, then I think that's extreme," Williams said.
Melissa Hiers is a close friend of Gloria Williams. Hiers also believes Williams should have gotten less time for kidnapping
"I'm just sad about it. I'm very upset about it I know what she did was wrong but 18 years, it seems a bit excessive," Hiers said. "If you knew her before any of this ever happened you would have thought there's no way, no way, not my Gloria."
Another one of Williams' neighbors said both the kidnapper and the victim's biological family are suffering.
"They brought the child up the right way," Charles E. Williams said. "They didn't misuse, abuse the child. I know she's grown now but that's man's law,."
"She's a great person and she made a mistake, she made one mistake," Hiers said.
Williams was sentenced in a Jacksonville courtroom Friday morning. She entered a guilty plea in February to charges of kidnapping and interfering with custody. As part of a plea deal, she faced a total of up to 27 years in prison.
Williams was arrested in January 2017 after authorities learned fraudulent documents were being used to establish the identity of her daughter, Alexis Manigo. A tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children led investigators in Jacksonville to Colleton County where they found an 18-year-old with the same birthday as a missing girl who had been taken from the hospital where she was born.
Investigators say Manigo was really Kamiyah Mobley, who they say Williams took from the hospital on July 10, 1998. Prosecutors said Williams befriended Mobley's mother and pretended to be a nurse while simultaneously pretending to be a family friend to hospital staff.