US woman who raised stolen baby surrenders

2011-01-24 12:09

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Hartford - 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 on Sunday, and she was to appear in federal court to face kidnapping charges, the US attorney's office said.

Ann Pettway surrendered on Sunday morning to the FBI and 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 publicised 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 spokesperson 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 on Friday they believed Pettway was on the run from authorities. They said on Sunday they would seek her extradition.

Long-held doubts

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 she 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 Centre 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 centre.

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

Pettway remained in custody on Sunday and couldn't be reached for comment. She was to appear in federal court in New York on Monday to face kidnapping charges, US Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Nobody answered when a reporter on Friday knocked on the door of a house where Pettway lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. A woman who answered the phone at a Pettway relative's home in Bridgeport on Sunday refused to comment on her surrender.

Born again


Nance told the New York Post in an interview posted on 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."

Members of her biological family didn't return telephone messages seeking comment on Sunday.

Authorities had been considering whether federal investigators would take the case because the statute of limitations may have expired in New York, New York Police Department chief spokesperson Paul Browne said earlier in the week. There is no limitation in federal missing-children cases.

A woman who lives near Pettway in North Carolina, Sonova Smith, said Pettway mentioned that she had a daughter in Connecticut but had moved to Raleigh with her son. Smith and Pettway both had teenage sons who would often play together, and Smith said her neighbour seemed to be a good mother.

"She was friendly. She was kind. She loved her son," Smith said. "We talked about our boys often. She talked about family. So, it's just really been surprising."

Watch an interview with the reunited White family here.

- AP
Read more on:    us  |  abductions
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