FBI joins search for Raleigh woman in abduction case
Posted January 21, 2011 3:01 p.m. EST
Updated January 21, 2011 7:14 p.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — The FBI has joined New York City police and local and state authorities in the search for a Raleigh woman involved in raising a child abducted more than 20 years ago.
North Carolina Department of Correction spokeswoman Pam Walker said Friday that officials are working with law enforcement officers to try and locate Ann Pettway, 44, who is on probation in Wake County for a 2010 attempted embezzlement case.
A law enforcement source confirmed multiple media reports that the FBI had joined the search.
Carlina White had long suspected she was at least adopted because Pettway could never provide her with a birth certificate.
No suspects were ever identified in her 1987 disappearance from Harlem Hospital in New York when she was 19 days old. White, now 23, had been living under the name Nejdra Nance in Bridgeport, Conn.
White recently reunited with her biological family. The family believes Pettway was the kidnapper.
Investigators said there is no statute of limitations on kidnapping a child, but no charges have been filed in the case yet.
Pettway, who hasn’t been named a suspect, could not be reached at her home on Friday.
Walker said Pettway was put on probation June 24 and had her last face-to-face meeting with a probation-parole officer Jan. 6.
“We were actively seeking her and started actively seeking her as soon as we were made aware of the fact that she was wanted for questioning in connection with the abduction in New York,” Waker said.
She has since been deemed an absconder.
“Part of her supervision condition is that she must seek permission from her officer to leave the state, to travel out of the state,” Walker said. “She has not done that, at this point.”
Several reports say Pettway might have headed north to be with family and to contact New York authorities about the case.
Neighbors said Friday they were shocked to hear about the case and described Pettway as a kind, friendly neighbor.
Many people in the neighborhood said they haven’t seen her in several weeks, but friend and neighbor Sonova Smith said she last saw Pettway on Friday and spoke to her by phone on Sunday.
"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."
White was raised by an abusive drug addict, she told the New York Post in an interview Thursday.
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, she decided to seek out her birth parents.
Periodically, White would check the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, looking through photos of missing infants in Connecticut.
On Jan. 4, she checked the website again but searched this time through New York's missing children and saw a baby photo that looked nearly identical to hers, police said.
She contacted the site, who contacted Joy White. Carlina and Joy White exchanged photos and talked. After a DNA test, it was all confirmed.
Carlina White told the Post that reuniting with her family was like a dream.
"I'm so happy. At the same time, it's a funny feeling because everything's brand new,” she said. “It's like being born again.”