HARTFORD, Connecticut – A North Carolina woman who raised a child kidnapped 23 years ago from a New York hospital surrendered to authorities on a probation violation charge yesterday, days after a widely publicised reunion between the biological mother and the daughter taken from her as a baby.
Ann Pettway surrendered yesterday 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.
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 relation to the 1987 abduction of Carlina White.
North Carolina officials said on Friday they believed Pettway was on the run from authorities. They said yesterday 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 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 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 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. 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 refused to comment on her surrender.
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.”
Authorities are considering whether federal investigators should take the case because the statute of limitations may have expired in New York, New York Police Department chief spokesman Paul Browne said. 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