• BREAKING NEWS Shelter in place lifted after prisoner captured

Woman kidnapped as infant reunited with family

January 20, 2011 3:30:17 PM PST
More than two decades ago, a newborn sick with fever was snatched from a New York City hospital, her frantic mother returning to the emergency room to find an empty crib. Police said the baby - now a woman - has been found.

It was a remarkable reunion after Carlina White tracked down the mother she was stolen from 23 years ago when the then-19-day-old was taken from Harlem Hospital.

Now, Joy White and Carlina are back together again.

Joy was 16 years old when she and her husband, Carl Tyson, took their daughter to the hospital on Aug. 4, 1987. Two hours later, they were devastated to learn that their baby was gone, lifted out of the pediatrics ward.

Carlina is now 23 and was raised as Nejdra Nance in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Georgia, while her real mother lived with her grief in the Bronx.

As a teenager, Carlina came to believe she was not related to the family that was raising her. She began to check missing children websites, and she eventually found her own case.

She called the website for help, and they called Joy, the mother who had kept her baby's picture on display all these years.

"She said she just had a feeling, she felt different from the people raising her," said Nance's maternal grandmother, Elizabeth White, 71. "She searched, and then she found Joy."

DNA testing proved Carlina was the stolen child.

Criminal charges for the abduction are possible, as there's no statute of limitations. Meanwhile, after decades apart, the reunion has gone well.

In the years following her abduction, Carlina's real parents divorced. They now have separate families.

Carlina says her own life was violent, with a mother, she says, who smoked crack, kept guns and who once beat her with a shoe so badly that it left an imprint on her face.

As part of their investigation, police are talking to retired detectives who handled the case years ago. Because she was so young when she was kidnapped, it's impossible for Nance to know if she has lived with the same family the entire time.

Nance was on her way back to New York from Atlanta on Wednesday, said Elizabeth White, and Joy White was en route to the airport to meet her. But they already reunited once recently, when Nance came to New York with her 5-year-old daughter, Samani.

"It was wonderful, she didn't even seem like a stranger, she just fit right in," Elizabeth White said. "We all went up there, we had dinner together, her aunts were there. She brought her beautiful daughter. It was magic."

Elizabeth White said she didn't ask Nance too many questions about how she grew up or how she knew she was not a member of the family with whom she lived. She didn't want to push Nance too much.

"That will all come," Elizabeth White said of the history. "What's important now is our baby girl is home. She's home."

There are still so many questions in this case.

What was life like for Carlina growing up in Bridgeport, Connecticut?

And did anyone, who knew the woman who raised Carlina question her story about the child.

Eyewitness News spoke with relatives of the woman who say they never suspected a thing.

The shock hasn't worn off for Kapel Pettway. It's been nearly 24 hours since he learned that the girl he thought was his great niece is not biologically related to him and that his niece Ann Pettway is accused of raising a child who was kidnapped 23 years ago.

As unusual as White's story is, by most accounts Nejdra was a typical kid growing up on Stratford avenue in Bridgeport's east end.

This despite being raised by a woman who she says was on drugs and abusive at times.

The news really has stunned family and friends. (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

---
Do you have something to add to this story? Click here to contact Eyewitness News.


Load Comments