January 24, 2011 in Nation/World

Woman held in stolen baby case

Alleged abductor surrenders, faces federal charges
Stephen Singer Associated Press
 

Pettway
(Full-size photo)

HARTFORD, Conn. – A North Carolina woman who raised a child stolen 23 years ago from a New York hospital surrendered to authorities on a probation violation charge Sunday, and she was to appear in federal court to face kidnapping charges, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Ann Pettway surrendered Sunday morning to the FBI and Bridgeport police on a warrant from North Carolina, where she’s on probation because of a conviction for attempted embezzlement, FBI supervisory special agent William Reiner said. She turned herself in days after a widely publicized reunion between the child she raised, now an adult, and her biological mother.

Pettway received two years of probation last June after she took items from a store where she worked, which is considered embezzlement under North Carolina law, state correction spokeswoman Pamela Walker said. Under terms of her probation, she wasn’t allowed to leave the state.

Department of Correction officials there tried repeatedly to contact her after finding out investigators wanted to question her in the 1987 abduction of Carlina White.

North Carolina officials said Friday they believed Pettway was on the run from authorities. They said Sunday they would seek her extradition.

Carlina was just 19 days old when her parents took her to Harlem Hospital in the middle of the night with a high fever. Joy White and Carl Tyson said a woman who looked like a nurse had comforted them. The couple left the hospital to rest, but their baby was missing when they went back. No suspects were identified.

Carlina is now 23 and has been living under the name Nejdra Nance in Connecticut and in the Atlanta area. She said she had long suspected Pettway wasn’t her biological mother because Pettway could never provide her with a birth certificate and because she didn’t look like anyone else in Pettway’s family.

She periodically checked the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and while looking through New York photos early this month found one that looked nearly identical to her own baby picture. She contacted Joy White through the center.

White and Nance met in New York before DNA tests were complete, confident they were mother and daughter. After the test results confirmed it Wednesday, Nance returned from Atlanta to be with White again.

Pettway remained in custody Sunday and couldn’t be reached for comment. She was to appear in federal court in New York today to face kidnapping charges, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Nance told the New York Post in an interview posted Thursday that reuniting with her family was like a dream.

“I’m so happy,” she said. “At the same time, it’s a funny feeling because everything’s brand new. It’s like being born again.”

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