Reporting Peter Haskell
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The North Carolina woman who raised a child kidnapped from a Harlem hospital two decades ago was taken into custody Sunday on a parole violation charge, the FBI said.
Ann Pettway surrendered Sunday morning to the FBI and Bridgeport police on a warrant from North Carolina, FBI supervisory special agent William Reiner said. She was on probation because of a conviction for attempted embezzlement and wasn’t allowed to leave the state. She was in custody Sunday and couldn’t be reached for comment.
In 1987, Carlina White was snatched away from the hospital by a woman pretending to be a nurse. Her parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, and police had pursued the case for years without a break.
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White had long suspected Pettway wasn’t her biological mother because she could never provide her with a birth certificate.
Eventually White, who was living in Atlanta, called the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They told her to look at the photos of missing kids on their Web site, and one picture in particular jumped out at her.
The center put White in touch with Joy White, and they compared photos. To be sure, though, Joy called the NYPD, where she reached Detective Martin Brown.
“A woman calls and she’s very excited on the phone, describes that she had just been contacted recently by someone living in Atlanta claiming that she was her long lost daughter from 23 years ago,” Det. Brown said.
The NYPD took DNA samples of Joy, Carl, and the woman who suspected she was their daughter and the samples came back positive. This week, the family was reunited.
Authorities are considering whether federal investigators should take the case because the statute of limitations may have expired in New York, NYPD 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.”
“I commend the swift and efficient work of the FBI and the NYPD in this important case, and also extend my thanks to law enforcement authorities in North Carolina and Bridgeport, Connecticut, for their assistance,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara after the arrest.
Pettway is expected to appear in Manhattan Federal Court Monday to face federal kidnapping charges.