Kidnapping of Carlina White

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Carlina Renae White (born July 15, 1987), also known as Nejdra "Netty" Nance,[1] is an American woman who solved her own kidnapping case and was reunited with her biological parents 23 years after being abducted as an infant from the Harlem Hospital Center in New York City. The case represents the longest known gap in a non-parental abduction where the victim was reunited with the family in the United States.[2] She is portrayed by Keke Palmer in the Lifetime film, Abducted: The Carlina White Story.

Abduction[edit]

Carlina was 19 days old when her parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, took her to the hospital with a fever of 104 °F (40.0 °C) on August 4, 1987. She had swallowed fluid during her delivery and had an infection. A woman reportedly dressed as a nurse had comforted the parents at the hospital, but was not a hospital employee. The woman had been seen around the hospital for three weeks prior to the abduction.[3] The baby disappeared during the early morning, around 2 am when the shifts were changing. The hospital had video surveillance, but at the time it was not working. There was no way of knowing what the woman in white looked like except for the description given by Joy White and Carl Tyson. [4][5] The baby had been receiving intravenous antibiotics when, between 2:30 am and 3:55 am, someone removed the IV line and abducted her.[3] A guard said a woman matching the suspect's description left the hospital at 3:30 am, and that no infant was visible, although the baby could have been concealed in the heavyset woman's smock.[6]

The case was the first known infant abduction from a New York hospital.[7] A $10,000 reward was offered by the city of New York in 1987 for the return of Carlina.[8] Flyers with the baby's picture were distributed nationwide, with no success in locating her. Her parents filed a $100 million suit against the hospital in 1989,[3] and obtained a $750,000 settlement in 1992.[2] Carlina's parents separated the year after the abduction and remarried.[9]

Life as Nejdra Nance[edit]

Carlina White was raised as Nejdra Nance by Annugetta "Ann" Pettway in Bridgeport, Connecticut, just 45 miles from where her parents had lived.[2] White attended Thomas Hooker School and graduated from Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport.[10] Pettway and White later moved to Atlanta, Georgia. White grew suspicious during her teens that Pettway was not her birth mother, because of their lack of physical resemblance and her inability to obtain documents such as a Social Security card.[5] When White asked to see her birth certificate, Pettway told her that she did not have one because a drug abuser had left White in her care; Pettway had tried to forge a certificate, but was unable to create one that looked genuine.[11] At age 23, White turned to sites such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where she found that the images of the kidnapped Carlina resembled infant photos of herself as Nejdra and those of her daughter, Samani. She called the center's hotline and was able to contact her birth family.[5] DNA profiling confirmed in January 2011 that she was the missing Carlina White.[12]

Investigation and legal proceedings[edit]

In 1987, NYPD detectives questioned a woman in Baltimore, who witnesses had identified as having been seen in the hospital, without apparent result.[13]

After the confirmation that Nejdra Nance was really Carlina White, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began a search for Ann Pettway. The statute of limitations for the state kidnapping law had expired in New York, but there is no statute of limitations for the federal law on kidnapping.[14] An arrest warrant for Ann Pettway was issued by the North Carolina Department of Correction on January 21, 2011, for violating her probation from a conviction for attempted embezzlement.[15][16] White stated, "I just hope that the officials be able to get her in their hands, so we can just hear her side of the story now."[5]

Pettway turned herself in to the FBI office at Bridgeport on the morning of January 23, 2011.[17] She had driven from North Carolina to Connecticut to arrange for her biological son to be taken care of. Pettway told federal investigators that she kidnapped White after enduring several miscarriages because of the stress over whether "she would ever be able to be a parent." Pettway did not enter a plea at her arraignment at the U.S. District Court for Southern New York in Manhattan, where she faced between 20 years and life in prison for kidnapping.[11] On February 17, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted Pettway on the kidnapping charge.[18]

On February 10, 2012, Pettway pleaded guilty to a federal kidnapping charge. As part of a plea bargain, prosecutors agreed to recommend to the judge a prison sentence of 10 to 12½ years, though the judge would make the ultimate decision on the length of the prison term.[19] On July 30, 2012, Judge P. Kevin Castel sentenced Pettway, who was then 50 years old, to 12 years in prison.[20]

Aftermath[edit]

Upon being reunited with her biological parents, Carlina White's attorney advised her to ask them about the cash settlement from the hospital. Joy White and Carl Tyson both confirmed that most of this money had been spent during the years before their reunion, and that a trust fund that had been established was only obtainable if Carlina had been found before the age of 21.[1] Joy White later stated that there had been a falling out over the issue of the money.[21]

In May 2011, public defender Robert Baum said that he met Carlina White during preparations for Ann Pettway's trial and that White agreed to testify on Pettway's behalf.[22] By the following July, White became estranged from her biological parents. However, several months later, she contacted both of her biological parents individually, having had a bit more time to process the situation; she would later state publicly that the issue over settlement funds was "just a misunderstanding." While "Carlina White" is now her legal name, as it appears on official documents, she says that she will go by "Netty" in public, since technically, it was neither the name her biological parents gave her, nor the name given to her by the woman who raised her, but rather is "[the name] I gave myself."[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kolker, Robert (October 23, 2011). "Kidnapped at Birth". New York. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Inbar, Michael (January 21, 2011). "Abducted girl’s aunt: Kidnapper 'destroyed my family'". MSNBC. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Tomb, Jeffrey (August 12, 1989). "Carlina's parents still hold hope". New York Daily News (The Spokesman-Review). p. G1. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  4. ^ Christoffersen, John (January 20, 2011). "Woman kidnapped in 1987 reunites with NY family". Fox News Channel. Associated Press. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Canning, Andrea; Hopper, Jessica (January 21, 2011). "Police hunt woman who raised kidnapped child". ABC News. pp. 1–3. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ Purdum, Todd S. (August 5, 1987). "20-day-old infant with a fever is abducted from Harlem Hospital". The New York Times. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  7. ^ Rosenberg, Rebecca; Bain, Jennifer; Fredericks, Bob (January 21, 2011). "FBI hunts woman who kidnapped baby as victim, 23, begins life with parents". New York Post. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  8. ^ Rivera, Elaine (August 27, 1987). "City offers reward for baby kidnapper". Newsday. p. 36. Retrieved January 21, 2011. (subscription required)
  9. ^ "Carlina Renae White". The Charley Project. Archived from the original on October 13, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  10. ^ Lambeck, Linda Conner; Mayko, Michael P. (January 21, 2011). "Reports: Former Bridgeport woman who raised kidnapped girl fled North Carolina home". Connecticut Post. Retrieved January 23, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Canning, Andrea; Hopper, Jessica (January 24, 2011). "Ann Pettway's Confession About Kidnapping Carlina White". ABC News. Retrieved February 5, 2011. 
  12. ^ "US woman reunited with family after solving own baby-snatch". BBC World Service. January 21, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Police Go to Baltimore To Interview Suspect". The New York Times. August 7, 1987. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  14. ^ "FBI hunt for 'fake' mother accused of kidnapping baby 23 years ago as real parents are reunited with their child". Daily Mail. January 21, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  15. ^ Jabali-Nash, Naimah (January 21, 2011). "Carlina White Update: Ann Pettway Declared Probation Absconder, Sought by Authorities". CBS News. Associated Press. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  16. ^ Gendar, Alison; Goldner, Dave (January 21, 2011). "Arrest warrant issued for Ann Pettway, woman accused of kidnapping Carlina White from NY hospital". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  17. ^ Candiotti, Susan (23 January 2011). "Suspect in 1987 kidnapping surrenders to police". CNN. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  18. ^ Owens, David (February 18, 2011). "Federal Grand Jury Indicts Bridgeport Woman For 1987 Kidnapping". Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  19. ^ Ann Pettway pleads guilty to baby kidnapping charges, CBSNews.com (February 10, 2012). Retrieved on April 19, 2012.
  20. ^ N.R. Kleinfeld, Kidnapping of Baby Draws 12-Year Term, New York Times (July 30, 2012). Retrieved on July 31, 2012.
  21. ^ Goldsmith, Samuel (February 8, 2011). "Carlina White, biological mother, estranged since miraculous reunion, Joy White says". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  22. ^ Golding, Bruce (May 3, 2011). "Gal set to defend her 'kidnapper mom'". New York Post. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 

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References[edit]