RALEIGH, N.C. – The woman who raised a child kidnapped from a New York hospital two decades ago has violated her probation and is believed to be on the run from authorities, North Carolina officials said Friday. A warrant was issued for her arrest.
Corrections officials tried repeatedly to contact Ann Pettway after finding out that investigators want to question her in the 1987 abduction of the infant, who's now grown and was recently reunited with her long-lost family. Pettway is on probation because of a conviction for attempted embezzlement and is not allowed to leave the state.
Authorities declared Pettway a probation absconder Friday, resulting in the arrest warrant. Her name has been put into a national law enforcement database.
"We definitely believe she is willfully fleeing supervision," said Pam Walker, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Correction.
Nobody answered when a reporter knocked on the door of a house where Pettway lived in Raleigh,
Carlina White had long suspected Pettway wasn't her biological mother because she could never provide her with a birth certificate. No suspects were ever identified in White's 1987 disappearance from Harlem Hospital in New York. White is now 23 years old and has been living under the name Nejdra Nance in Connecticut.
White recently reunited with her biological family. The family believes Pettway was the kidnapper.
Sonova Smith, who lives near Pettway in The Villages neighborhood, said Pettway mentioned that she had a daughter in Connecticut but had moved to Raleigh with her son. Smith and Pettway both had teenage sons who would often play together, and Smith said her neighbor seemed to be a good mother.
"She was friendly. She was kind. She loved her son," Smith said. "We talked about our boys often. She talked about family. So, it's just really been surprising."
Smith said she last spoke to Pettway on Sunday.
Authorities are considering whether federal investigators should take the case because the statute of limitations may have expired in New York, said chief New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. There is no limitation in federal missing children cases.
Carlina White's parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, said a woman who looked like a nurse had comforted them at the hospital. Carlina White was just 19 days old and had been admitted in the middle of the night with a high fever. Her parents left the hospital to rest and found she was missing when they came back.
Nance told the New York Post in an interview posted Thursday that reuniting with her family was like a dream.
"I'm so happy. At the same time, it's a funny feeling because everything's brand-new. It's like being born again," she said.
Associated Press Writers Allen G. Breed and Emery P. Dalesio contributed to this report from Raleigh.