A woman who raised a child snatched from a New York hospital more than two decades ago has admitted kidnapping the baby after her own attempts to have children failed, saying in a statement she was “truly sorry”, the FBI said in court papers.
Ann Pettway confessed to taking the baby in August 1987 from Harlem Hospital during an interview on Sunday, after she surrendered to the FBI and Connecticut police, according to a criminal complaint prepared by FBI Agent Maria Johnson.
Pettway surrendered days after a widely publicised reunion between the child she raised – now 23-year-old Carlina White – and her biological mother.
Pettway said she had had difficulty having her own children in the 1980s, was dealing with the stress of trying to be a mother and had suffered several miscarriages, when she went to the hospital and saw the baby, Ms Johnson said.
After taking the baby, Pettway took her outside the hospital and, when no-one stopped her, proceeded to a train and on to her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she told friends and family members that the baby was her child, the agent said.
Prior to representing Pettway at a court hearing, lawyer Robert Baum said: “She feels badly. She’s very upset. She’s expressed concern about her family. But she understands the gravity of the charges.”
Brian Pettway, a 38-year-old cousin of Pettway who lives in Connecticut, said his cousin appeared pregnant in 1987 and disappeared, only to return with a baby the family assumed was hers. He said Pettway was a reliable, loving and trustworthy cousin.
“This is so uncharacteristic,” Brian Pettway said. “We’re all left with our mouths opened. It’s kind of like a double loss. We accepted her (Carlina White) as family. Unbeknownst to us, she was not our family.”
White was 19 days old when her parents took her to Harlem Hospital late on August 4, 1987 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 on August 5. A police investigation failed to locate the baby.
Carlina White has been living under the name Nejdra Nance in Connecticut and in the Atlanta area. She said she had long suspected Pettway was not her biological mother because she could never provide her with a birth certificate and because she did not look like anyone else in Pettway’s family.