Twenty-five years ago Carlina White’s parents brought her to a Harlem hospital to be treated for a fever. Born to a teenage mother, White was only 19 days old at the time. A woman named Ann Pettway, who court documents would later reveal suffered from depression, a troubled childhood, and infertility, was also at the hospital that night posing as a nurse.
Pettway abducted the child and took her to her home in Connecticut where she raised her as her own for the next two decades, a mere 45 miles east of where White’s parents lived. Today, Pettway was finally sentenced for her crimes. How was she found out?
White, who grew up believing her name was Nejdra Nance, became suspicious of Pettway when she reached legal driving age and her “mother” could not produce the necessary documentation (i.e. a birth certificate and social security card) for her to obtain a license. In her search for answers she reached out to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who put her in touch with her parents. White is now among the few to be reunited with her family after being abducted by someone who is not a parent; even more rare are those cases where the separation spans more than twenty years.
After DNA tests confirmed that White was the missing child of Carl Tyson and Joy White, Pettway turned herself into authorities and later plead guilty to the charges.
In a statement in the courtroom Pettway apologized to White’s family saying, “I am deeply sorry for what I’ve done… but I’m here today to right my wrong.”
Pettway accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to 12 years in prison with three years of supervision following her release. White was reunited with her family last year and is currently living in Atlanta with her 7-year-old daughter.