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Papers: Woman charged in '87 abduction frustrated over miscarriages

From Susan Candiotti, CNN
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Woman confesses to 1987 baby kidnapping
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ann Pettway was frustrated by her inability to give birth, court documents say
  • Pettway silent during intial court appearance; she's charged with one count of kidnapping
  • "A lot of facts here have yet to come out," her lawyer says
  • "She should get 23 years," the abducted girl's aunt says

New York (CNN) -- A woman suspected of snatching an infant from a New York hospital in 1987 told investigators she was frustrated with her inability to give birth, according to court papers filed Monday.

Ann "Annugetta" Pettway has been charged with one count of kidnapping in the abduction of Carlina Renae White, who has since reunited with her biological mother. According to court documents filed in the case Monday, Pettway admitted to taking the girl from a Harlem hospital after suffering several miscarriages.

Pettway, 49, made an initial appearance in federal court Monday afternoon to face the single kidnapping count. She did not speak or enter a plea during the five-minute hearing. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein ordered her held until a February 7 bail hearing.

She was dressed in a blue jail uniform and did not look around as she was escorted into the courtroom. In their second-row seats, White's parents leaned forward for a better view of the woman accused of taking their daughter from them more than 23 years ago.

During an interview with federal investigators Sunday, Pettway allegedly expressed remorse that she "caused a lot of pain," court papers state. After the hearing, defense attorney Robert Baum said he believed Pettway did express remorse but would not say whether he would challenge her statement to investigators before reading the charging documents.

"A lot of facts here have yet to come out," Baum told reporters. He added, "She's hopeful that the ending of this tragedy for everyone will shed new light on her role."

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Regina Tyson, White's aunt, said her family wants to see prison time for Pettway.

"She should get 23 years -- the same amount of time she took away from my family," Tyson said.

Pettway turned herself in Sunday morning at the FBI office in Bridgeport, Connecticut, FBI spokesman William Reiner said. She faces up to 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted.

White tracked down her birth family in early January, saying she had had a nagging feeling all her life that she was brought up by a family to which she didn't belong. Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said White's suspicions grew after the woman who raised her could not produce a birth certificate for her.

Court documents state Pettway tried unsuccessfully several times to forge the document.

Janice Fedarcyk, the No. 1 official in the FBI's New York office, called the kidnapping "an unimaginable trauma" for White's parents.

"In a calculated deception, she was raised as the child of the woman now charged with her kidnapping," Fedarcyk said in a statement issued Monday afternoon. "Those 23 years cannot be restored, but unlike most child abductions, this one, at long last, has a happy ending."

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.

Pettway later acknowledged that she was not White's biological mother, claiming she was given to her as an infant by a woman who was "on drugs," according to the court documents.

"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," 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 onto. 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.

CNN's Stephanie Gallman, Raelyn Johnson and Nina Golgowski contributed to this report

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