NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It sounds like something out of a movie — a baby kidnapped from a hospital ward more than two decades ago.
Kidnapped as an infant, she’s now 23. She tracked down her birth parents after being raised by another family. As CBS 2’s Don Dahler reports, it was a miracle reunion.
Once she was lost, now she is found. Carlina White was 19 days old when was admitted to Harlem Hospital with a 104-degree fever.
The next morning, her teenaged mother discovered her baby was gone.
But on Wednesday, one of the NYPD’s most vexing cold cases has a very happy ending.
Joy White was only 16 years old when her newborn daughter was kidnapped. She spoke to CBS 2 that day back in 1987, pleading with the kidnapper.
“Just give me my baby back, please! I want her back now, just want her back,” Joy White said.
The young parents were devastated.
Police immediately suspected a woman who’d been hanging around the hospital, acting like a nurse, who’d suggested to Joy White she should go home.
“She was trying to get rid of me so she could take it, take my baby away from me, but I didn’t realize it,” Joy White said.
Over the years, Carlina’s photo was circulated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, alongside an estimation of what she would look like as an older child.
When the now 23-year-old Carlina, who was raised in Bridgeport, Conn., under a different name and who always suspected she wasn’t related to the family that raised her, did an Internet search, she found a stunning image. She immediately called the Center, and on Jan. 4, the Center called Joy White, who had never taken her daughter’s photo off her dresser.
The NYPD confirmed that their DNA matched, and mother and daughter, kept apart for over two decades, were reunited this past weekend.
When Joy White got the phone call, she said she screamed and cried. She said she missed the last 23 years of her daughter’s life, and she has to take it all in now, day by day.
Carlina’s relieved grandmother told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis that all of the family’s prayers have been answered.
“I had thought I was dreaming at first, you know, I couldn’t wake up – I thought it was a good dream,” Carlina’s grandmother, Elizabeth White, said. “We never gave up hope. We always thought one day she would come back.”
Police are now searching for the woman who kidnapped Carlina. There is no statute of limitations for kidnapping.