National News

Raleigh woman linked to 1987 baby kidnapping

Posted January 19, 2011
Updated January 20, 2011

— A woman who was kidnapped as an infant 23 years ago says finding her real mother "felt like a dream."

"I'm so happy. At the same time, it's a funny feeling because everything's brand new. It's like being born again," said the woman, who was named Carlina White by her parents but was raised in Connecticut under the name Nejdra Nance.

The 19-day-old baby Carlina was kidnapped in 1987 after her worried parents took her to Harlem Hospital with a fever.

No suspect was ever arrested.

Police said they think a Raleigh woman, Ann Pettway, is the kidnapper.

Pettway, 44, is on probation in Wake County for a 2010 embezzlement case. She's known to go by several other names, police said

Investigators said there is no statute of limitations on kidnapping a child, but no charges have been filed in the case yet.

Pettway couldn't be reached Thursday for comment.

Sonova Smith, a friend and neighbor of Pettway, told WRAL News on Thursday that she was having a hard time believing that her friend kidnapped a baby more than two decades ago. 

"She's a good person," Smith said. "She is seeking everything that's good for her son, for her. She came her to do better, looking for a job. It really surprised me to even hear those allegations against her." 

Smith last saw Pettway on Friday and spoke with her by phone on Sunday. 

Carlina's distraught parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, feared they would never see their daughter again.

Carlina, or Nejdra, was raised by an abusive drug addict, she told the New York Post. She said she had long suspected that she wasn't the woman's real daughter.

When she got pregnant herself at 16, she asked her putative mother for a birth certificate so she could get prenatal care. Her mother could not provide one.

She gave birth to a daughter who is now 6, and when she recently moved on her own to Atlanta, Ga., she decided to seek out her birth parents.

The Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped her connect the dots. Then the center contacted Joy White

"We may have found your daughter," Joy White said the caller told her.

DNA tests confirmed that Nejdra was in fact Carlina.

Mother and daughter were reunited on Saturday; they were in a Manhattan hotel on Thursday. The Post interviewed them at the hotel on Wednesday.

"I'm sitting here and I'm in a daze, thinking, 'Is this for real?' I missed the last 23 years of her life. I have to take it all in, for now just take it day by day," Joy White told the newspaper.

Carlina White said, "I just never gave up on finding my real mother. I just kept on pushing."


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  • serious Jan 20, 2011

    Airbornemonty what I meant was that I found it odd that this story was on the local front page when it was about a case in new york. Earlier today the articledidnt link the raleigh woman to the case. Now that they have linked this woman, it makes sense why iit made wral's front page. Get it now?

  • airbornemonty Jan 20, 2011

    Did you mean to say why wasn't the story on WRAL's front page?

    A story like this should be on the front page of every newspaper in the ntion!

    It isn't often that a parent of a kidnapped child get news like this. It gives parents of lost children hope and I'm glad to read about it.

  • serious Jan 20, 2011

    I was wondering why this story was on wral's front page

  • turtledove Jan 20, 2011

    God had nothing to do with this child being abducted it had all to do with pure evil and evil and God don't go together. I wish people would start giving the Devil his due and stop blaming God for everything bad that happens to people.

  • turtledove Jan 20, 2011

    On probation but couldn't be reached? Bet probation office doesn't even know where she is.

  • cchelle113 Jan 20, 2011

    God is so GOOD. God Bless!!!

  • Canes Girl Forever Jan 20, 2011


  • Baybee Doll Jan 20, 2011

    jrfergeson--amen, brother!!

  • jrfergerson Jan 20, 2011

    and for those who do not believe in God - only He could have had this miracle happen. for one to find the right people to connect the dots was God putting them in the right place at the right time.And He always takes something bad and makes it good.

  • lolly Jan 20, 2011

    "The Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped her connect the dots"

    Great work NCMEC.