Image: Ann Pettway
AP
Ann Pettway, who raised a baby girl kidnapped from a Harlem hospital, has been taken into custody, more than 20 years after her alleged crime.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/23/2011 6:41:30 PM ET 2011-01-23T23:41:30

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 Sunday, days after a widely publicized reunion between the biological mother and the daughter taken from her as a baby.

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.

Pettway is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court Monday to face federal kidnapping charges, a statement from the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office 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.

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

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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."

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 neighbor 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."

The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this report.

Video: Suspect in 1987 baby kidnap turns herself in

  1. Closed captioning of: Suspect in 1987 baby kidnap turns herself in

    >>> major turn tonight on a story we have been following since last week, a woman accused of kidnapping a baby from a new york hospital more than two decades ago surrendered today in connecticut . nbc's tom llamas is at fbi headquarters in bridgeport. tom, good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, lester. tonight, federal authorities have charged ann pettway with the kid nooching carolina white. the fbi believes that she can unlock the mystery of how a 3-week-old was kidnapped from a new york hospital and spent 23 years living a lie. this exclusive video shows ann pettway leaving the fbi office in bridgeport, connecticut . police apprehend hadded pettway and now federal authorities have charged her with kidnapping infant carolina white, the 3-week-old who was snatched from harlem hospital in 1987 .

    >> apparently, she had turned herself into them out in the town of connecticut .

    >> reporter: pet waves on the run, also wanted for breaking probation in north carolina . she disappeared after news broke her daughter, 23-year-old nedra nance was really carolina white. pettway was spotted yesterday in bridge port, her hometown, trying to pawn items for cash.

    >> she was recognized by the clerk at the time. he then made a call to us and detectives responded to the incident location, they were able to confirm the fact it was her.

    >> reporter: pettway's mother who spoke to us behind a closed door, told us she never saw her daughter give birth to nedra. for more than two decades, the white family has suffered. that all changed last week when police say dna confirmed nedra's true identity. the 23-year-old had long suspected pettway wasn't her real mother. she searched online and found a photo of a missing baby that looked familiar. it was the biggest clue in solving the mystery of her life. pet sway expected to appear in manhattan federal court tomorrow where she will be charged with kidnapping. lester?

    >> tom llamas, thanks.

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