National News

Granddad: 'Miracle' brings stolen baby back as grown woman

Posted January 26, 2011 4:48 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2011 8:45 p.m. EST

— One phone call to a Warren County man last week ended 23 years of worry and questions: His granddaughter, kidnapped from a New York hospital in 1987, had been found alive and safe.

Charlie Tyson is the paternal grandfather of Carolina White, 23, who tracked down her own biological family after she became suspicious of the woman who raised her.

"It was a miracle really after 23 years," Tyson said.

The 73-year-old said he has trouble envisioning the granddaughter he last saw as a 19-day-old infant as a grown woman.

"I don't know whether I should buy her some baby food or take her to McDonald's, because she's grown now," he said.

Ann Pettway, 44, of Raleigh, is accused of abducting White in August 1987 from Harlem Hospital and raising the girl as her own child in Bridgeport, Conn. She surrendered to authorities in that state Sunday.

Pettway said that she was distraught and wanted a baby after suffering several miscarriages, according to a criminal complaint.

That explanation doesn't sit well with Tyson.

"There are so many kids out there now at the foster homes. She could have got a baby," he said. "But I guess she wasn't thinking."

White, who was raised as Nedjra Nance, said she became suspicious when Pettway couldn't provide her with a birth certificate and claimed that her mother was a drug user who gave her away.

As an adult, White moved to Atlanta and periodically checked the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. While looking through New York photos earlier this month, she found one that looked nearly identical to her own baby picture. DNA testing confirmed that she was the daughter of Joy White, and the pair reunited in New York last week.

"It's amazing, I'll you that. It's amazing," Tyson said.

He said that his son, Carl, has gone to New York, and although he hasn't spoken to his granddaughter yet, there's talk of having a family reunion in Virginia this summer.

It's finally time for the family to heal, Tyson said.

"We still got to grow to this lady, because she's a grown lady now," he said. "We got to grow to like her, and she's got to grow to like us, too."