NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman who raised a child who went missing from a New York hospital 23 years ago was ordered detained on Monday on kidnapping charges, a day after she confessed to snatching the baby and turned herself in.
According to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. federal court in Manhattan, Ann Pettway admitted to taking the victim from a Harlem hospital and bringing her to Connecticut. She is charged with one count of kidnapping.
Pettway, 49, was ordered detained and did not apply for bail at a brief hearing on Monday. Dressed in a dark blue jail smock, she did not enter a plea.
She faces up to life in prison if convicted and is due back in court on February 7.
Pettway told investigators she had been dealing with the stress of several miscarriages.
“She’s pretty upset,” said Robert Baum, her attorney. “She understands the gravity of the charges.”
Authorities had been looking for Ann Pettway ever since news broke last week that Carlina White, who was raised by Pettway, had been reunited with her biological family in New York. Pettway turned herself in to authorities on Sunday.
White’s biological father Carl Tyson was in court on Monday but declined to speak to reporters.
Police say that in 1987, Carlina’s biological mother Joy White had just given birth and gave the newborn to a woman in the hospital dressed as a nurse. The baby was not seen again.
Unaware of her true identity, White, 23, was raised as Nejdra Nance with the Pettway family in Bridgeport, about 45 miles east of her biological parents’ home.
The woman began to suspect she was not the biological offspring of the couple who were raising her when she had trouble getting a birth certificate and a social security number.
“An infant was snatched from her family 23 years ago, surely an unimaginable trauma for her parents,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk said in a statement.
“Those 23 years cannot be restored, but unlike most child abductions, this one, at long last, has a happy ending.”
Pettway was also wanted in North Carolina for breaking the terms of her probation by leaving that state, where she was convicted of embezzlement in 2010.
Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr.; Editing by Basil Katz and Jerry Norton