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Suspect in 1987 kidnapping surrenders to police, faces federal charges

From Susan Candiotti, CNN
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Pettway turns herself in
  • NEW: Ann Pettway will face federal kidnapping charges Monday
  • FBI says Pettway turned herself in to FBI office
  • Source says Pettway contacted an officer on Facebook
  • Kidnapped baby, now 23, was reunited with her biological family this month

New York (CNN) -- A woman suspected of snatching an infant from a New York hospital in 1987 was in custody Sunday after surrendering to authorities in Connecticut and will face federal kidnapping charges, authorities said.

Ann Pettway turned herself in to the FBI office in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Sunday morning, FBI spokesman William Reiner said.

She is expected to appear Monday in a New York federal court to face federal kidnapping charges, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

A law enforcement source previously told CNN that Pettway contacted a Bridgeport police officer via Facebook from Stratford, Connecticut. Reiner and Bridgeport police spokesman Detective Keith Bryant would not comment on that report.

Reiner also would not comment on whether Pettway was cooperating with police.

A warrant had been issued Friday in North Carolina for Pettway's arrest. She is suspected in the abduction of Carlina Renae White. After 23 years, White tracked down her real mother earlier this month, saying she had had a nagging feeling all her life that she was brought up by a family she didn't belong to.

Earlier, Bryant told reporters that Pettway was spotted at a pawnshop in Bridgeport on Saturday She was seen at Joe David Pawnbroker at about noon, asking about pawning jewelry, he said.

Woman found 23 years after kidnapping

A store employee called police after recognizing the woman from news reports, Bryant said. "By the time our officers arrived, she was gone. They canvassed the area and didn't find her."

Authorities used surveillance video from the store to confirm the woman was Pettway. "Based on that video and what we have in the database, it's her," he said. "They're 100% sure."

The North Carolina warrant sought Pettway's arrest for allegedly violating her two-year probation sentence on attempted embezzlement charges, said North Carolina Department of Corrections spokeswoman Pamela Walker. As part of her probation, she would have had to get permission to leave North Carolina, Walker said. Pettway had not gotten such permission, Walker said.

White's mother, Joy White, told the New York Post last week that she last saw her daughter when she was 19 days old. She took her to a Harlem hospital on August 4, 1987, because the baby had a high fever, a New York police official said. Carlina was admitted to the hospital, and her mother went home to rest. When she returned, the baby was gone.

"That was a big part of my heart that was just ripped apart," Carlina White's biological father, Carl Tyson, told the Post regarding her disappearance.

Carlina White told the Post that Pettway raised her. Pettway was pregnant in 1987, she said, but lost the baby.

Carlina White was raised under a different name, but always felt she did not belong to the family, said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Her suspicions grew after the woman who raised her could not produce a birth certificate for her.

"I just started typing in Yahoo and Google different articles -- anything that pulled up in 1987 with any child that went missing -- and I came across the article, and the baby picture just struck me because ... it looked like my daughter," Carlina White, who has a 5-year-old daughter, told the Post.

On January 4, Joy White's phone rang. The woman on the other end said she was Carlina, and sent a picture taken in 1987 in which she bore a striking resemblance to a baby picture Joy White had held on to. A DNA test proved the link.

The family has since been joyously reunited. "This is what I wanted ever since I found out that lady wasn't my biological mother," Carlina White told the Post. "I just hope that the officials will be able to get her in their hands so we could just hear her side of the story now."

Her biological family, meanwhile, wants justice.

"I want her to go to jail ... for what she did and what she did to my family," said Lisa White-Heatley, Joy White's sister. "She destroyed my family."

CNN's Nina Golgowski contributed to this report