Pictured in court: Woman accused of kidnapping baby in 1987 is denied bail
25th January 2011
Accused woman has told authorities she suffered several miscarriages
FBI agent said Pettway is 'sorry for the pain she has caused'
A woman accused of taking a baby from a New York City hospital 23 years ago has been denied bail after she appeared in court on kidnapping charges.
The FBI has previously said Ann Pettway confessed to taking a newborn girl from Harlem Hospital in 1987 and raising the child as her own.
The 49-year-old wore a blue prison jumpsuit, folded her hands, stared straight ahead and didn't say a word during her five-minute appearance in federal court on Monday in Manhattan.
Relatives: Both Carlina's biological father, Carl Tyson (above), and her aunt, Regina Tyson (below), attended the hearing in Manhattan
Her appearance at court was watched by Carlina's aunt and the child's biological father Carl Tyson, who had said that he wanted to attend so he could see the woman that kidnapped his three-week-old daughter.
'I would like to see her. I would like to ask her why. Why did she put me through all this pain?', Mr Tyson said.
FBI agent Maria Johnson interviewed Pettway and said in court documents that Pettway confessed and 'is sorry and knows that she has created a lot of pain'. She had 'had difficulty having children of her own' and 'had suffered several miscarriages' according to a filed criminal complaint.
Pettway, who last lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, gave herself up to Connecticut authorities on Sunday, just days after a widely publicised reunion between the child she raised and her biological mother.
Defence lawyer Robert Baum says his client is upset and understands the gravity of the charge.
'She cares very deeply about Carlina', Pettway's lawyer Robert Baum said adding that she was 'very upset' during an interview with him.
'She understands the gravity of the situation'.
'She became aware of the police chasing after her because of press accounts', Mr Baum added.
Pettway was spotted trying to sell items at a Bridgeport pawn shop on Saturday.
'She was recognised by the clerk at the time. He then made a call to us', Detective Keith Bryant from Bridgeport Connecticut police department said.
Pettway handed herself into authorities and now faces life in prison.
In her confession to authorities, Pettway said she saw the 19-day-old baby on August 4 1987, sneaked into her room a few hours later and took the child.
The complaint says: 'When no one stopped Pettway she took the victim with her on a train to Pettway's home in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She told her friends and family members that the victim was her child'.
She then raised the child who she named Nejdra Nance as her own although the girl was sometimes sent to live with Pettway's mother Mary.
'Pettway attempted to create a fake birth certificate for the victim, but was unsuccessful in doing so', prosecutors said. 'Pettway was never able to create a fake document that appeared real'.
Brian Pettway, cousin of the accused kidnapper, told the New York Post that his relative was pregnant in the summer of 1987 but then mysteriously vanished.
'She was pregnant. She disappeared for two months. When she got back, she had [a baby]. We all assumed that she had the baby while she was away. No one questioned it', Mr Pettway said.
Mary Pettway confirmed her daughter was expecting a baby that year.
'She was pregnant in 1987. I wasn't with her when she gave birth. [Carlina White] was Ann's daughter until all this came up. I don't know right now what to think'.
Carlina's biological father Carl Tyson said: 'She took my daughter for 23 years. So let her do the same amount of time', in response to how Pettway should be punished.
'It was really hard around Christmastime - there was no one to give a Christmas present to, when her birthday came, no one to give a party to. When I walked down the street and saw someone with a baby I'd always look to see if that's my baby', Mr Tyson said.
Mr Tyson told the Today Show on Monday that Carlina was finding it challenging adjusting to life with her new family without abandoning the family that raised her.
'She wanted to reunite with us but on the other hand she has this other family that she's been with', he said.Regina Tyson, Carlina's aunt said her niece 'wants justice to be served for what Pettway did'.
'But the family that provided her with unconditional love for 23 years did not have any idea what was going on' adding that they should not be victimised for what their relative did'.
'She's an adult with a five-year-old and lives in Atlanta. If she was 12, we could pick her up and ship her to New York City... so we can't make the decision that she should be here in New York City but we would like that', Ms Tyson added.
Ann Pettway handed herself in to the FBI and police on a warrant from North Carolina, where she was on probation over an embezzlement conviction.
It comes a week after the emotional reunion between the child she raised, Carlina White, and her biological mother.
Pettway was sentenced to two years' probation last June after she stole items from a store where she worked - a charge considered embezzlement under state law.
Under the terms of her probation, she was not allowed to leave the state.
Department of Correction officials repeatedly tried to contact her after finding out investigators wanted to question her in connection with the 1987 abduction of Ms White.
She was believed to have been on the run and authorities said they would seek her extradition.
Carlina was just 19 days old when her parents took her to Harlem Hospital suffering from a high fever.
Joy White and Carl Tyson said a woman who looked like a nurse comforted them. They left the hospital to rest, but their baby was missing when they returned.
Carlina said she had long suspected Pettway was not her biological mother, because she could never provide her with a birth certificate and bore little resemblance to the Pettway family.
She periodically checked the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and while looking through New York photos this month found one that looked nearly identical to her own baby picture.
Ms White and her mother met in New York before DNA tests were completed, and after the results confirmed their suspicions Carlina returned from Atlanta to be with her mother again.
Ms White told the New York Post: 'I'm so happy. At the same time, it's a funny feeling because everything's brand new.
'It's like being born again.'