'Unsolved Mysteries': Who is Carlina White? Harlem woman reunited with real parents 23 years after abduction

Ann Pettway, the woman who raised White (renamed Nejdra Nance) as her own in Bridgeport as Nejdra Nance, had done so because she was unable to have her own children due to a series of miscarriages


                            'Unsolved Mysteries': Who is Carlina White? Harlem woman reunited with real parents 23 years after abduction
Carlina White (Netflix)
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HARLEM, NEW YORK: Carlina White's case remains one of the most extraordinary examples of child abduction in the history of the nation because she was reunited with her biological parents after 23 years of being kidnapped and raised as someone else's child. The last episode of Netflix's 'Unsolved Mysteries' briefly visits the story of White's life while looking at a string of children who disappeared from a park in Harlem back in 1989. Although White was not one of the toddlers who was kidnapped from the park, her case did give experts and investigators hope that children who went missing decades ago can be found and be returned to their parents.

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Robert Lowery, the vice-president of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, explained in the documentary, "After 30 years, the likelihood of finding a child alive and well, yes, is remote, but we’ve learned to never give up on these children, because we’ve seen amazing things happen. For instance, in New York City, Carlina White taken from Harlem Hospital.”

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White, the daughter of Joy White and Carl Tyson was admitted to the Harlem Hospital Centre in New York on August 4, 1987, when she was just old after she developed a 104-degree fever. A woman reportedly dressed as a nurse had comforted the parents at the hospital. Later that night, after her parents had left and the nurse shifts were changing, she was abducted. Since surveillance cameras in the hospital weren’t working, White's parents could not give the investigators a proper description of the abductor, who they later found out was not an employee of the hospital.

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Ann Pettway (Netflix)

 

Ann Pettway, the woman who raised White (renamed Nejdra Nance) as her own in Bridgeport as Nejdra Nance, had done so because she was unable to have her own children due to a series of miscarriages. White first began to suspect that Pettyway might not have given birth to her after she became pregnant with her daughter in 2005 and requested Pettway to obtain her birth certificate so she could get health insurance. Pettway acquired a forged Connecticut birth certificate which White attempted to use as proof of identity so she could obtain the health insurance, but the officials told her the document was forged.

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After White confronted Pettway, the latter broke down and confessed that she was not White's biological mother. This made White research sites such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where she found that the images of herself as an infant which looked similar to those of her daughter, Samani. She contacted the center's hotline after a DNA profiling it was confirmed in January 2011 that she was, in fact, the missing Carlina White and was subsequently reunited with her parents.

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After that, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began a search for Pettway. An arrest warrant for her was issued by the North Carolina Department of Correction on January 21, 2011, for violating her probation from a conviction for attempted embezzlement. Pettway turned herself in at the FBI office at Bridgeport on the morning of January 23, 2011. On February 17, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted Pettway on the kidnapping charge. A year later, she pleaded guilty and as part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to recommend to the judge a prison sentence of 10 to 12½ years. On July 30, 2012, Pettway was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

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Allison Dansby, one of the mothers whose son went missing at the Harlem park at just two years old back in 1989 is still waiting to be reunited with her child. She said in the documentary that the story of Carlina White gave her hope. “It was a blessing to see that. It was a good story to hear and know that she was reunited with her family. The hope is that if it could happen to her, it could happen to me, too," she said.

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