After coming down with a fever, (real) parents Joy White and Carl Tyson took their newborn daughter to the hospital, where she was put on an antibiotics IV. Someone who looked like a nurse comforted them and told them to go home and get some rest.
It’s still unclear whether that woman was Ann Pettway, but Pettway apologized and confessed yesterday to unhooking the IV and taking the child. She said once she got outside the hospital and no one stopped her, she just got on a train home to Bridgeport and pretended the baby was hers.
A cousin of Pettway’s told reporters that she appeared pregnant in 1987, then disappeared, before returning home with the baby. So no one questioned it, and they’re all shocked now that it’s true.
Unfortunately, Carlina talks of a childhood of abuse growing up in Connecticut as Nejdra Nance with her “mom” who was always using fake IDs and aliases. And over the years, she just felt like she didn’t fit in and or look like her family at all.
When she was pregnant with her now 5-year-old daughter, Carlina asked her Pettway for her birth certificate so she could apply for pre-natal care. She received a startling response.
“I found out while I was pregnant. That lady told me she wasn’t my mother,” Carlina said. But instead of telling her the truth, Pettway explained she didn’t have the birth certificate because she’d been given to her by a woman who used drugs.
Carlina says she then began surfing websites on missing children. Around Christmas, she called the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children after finding a baby picture that looked very similar to the ones Pettway had of her and to those of her own 5-year old daughter.
New York police sent detectives to White’s home in Atlanta and to her real parents’ home in the Bronx to collect DNA samples, which were a match. But Carlina and Joy White had already met, convinced from the moment they spoke that the results would confirm the connection.
Pettway Caught and Charged
After the Whites’ reunion made headlines, officials went looking to question Pettway. She was now living in Raleigh, NC and was on probation for stealing $180 cash and clothing from the Triangle Town Center’s Belk store where she worked in May 2010.
After she couldn’t be located, an arrest warrant for violating her probation was issued on Friday, Jan. 21. She was spotted multiple times in Bridgeport, CT, over the weekend before turning herself into the local FBI office on Sunday, Jan. 23.
Pettway says she had been struggling to have children of her own after several miscarriages, went to the hospital and saw the baby.
She was charged with federal kidnapping charges in a Manhattan court earlier today. (Since the NY statute of limitations had expired, the feds were asked to take the case.)
Her lawyer did not ask for bail (smart move, given her history LOL) and she faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years to life in prison if she is convicted. After this case, she’s supposed to be extradited to NC for the probation violation.
According to the Stamford Advocate, Pettway has also criminal convictions over the years in Connecticut for forgery, drug possession and multiple larcenies. She spent a month in jail for her first crime in 1977–the other four times (including NC), she was sentenced to probation.
Update — 2/14/11
Sadly, the fairy tale reunion did not last long. Apparently, Carlina and her birth mom Joy White have been on the outs since their second meeting. First it was reported that Carlina was confused and feeling a sense of loyalty to the only family she’d really known.
But now, it’s alleged White is devastated because Carlina is demanding her share of the $750,000 settlement her parents were awarded from the hospital. Originally, the parents said they put the funds into a trust for her. But as the years passed and the chances of her being found alive fell, her parents said they spent the money on bills and such.
If that’s your biggest concern after finding your mom after 23 years, then maybe Carlina is more like her kidnapper than we thought after all.