A woman who snatched an infant from a New York City hospital 24 years ago and raised her as her daughter pleaded guilty today to a federal kidnapping charge and faces at least 10 years in prison.
Ann Pettway took Carlina White when she was 19 days old from Harlem Hospital in Manhattan.
"It was wrong," Pettway told the judge when she entered her guilty plea today in a New York courtroom.
Pettway, 50, could have been sentenced to life in prison or a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison had she chosen to stand trial. Prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of 10 to 12.5 years.
"I'm pissed. Give her 23 years," Carl Tyson, Carlina White's father, said after the court proceedings.
White was not present at today's hearings. According to her parents, she does not have a relationship with either of them.
White, who had been brought to the hospital with a fever by her concerned parents at 19 days old and was hooked up to an IV. Pettway posed a nurse, took the baby from the couple and pretended to take her for treatment.
Joy White and Carl Tyson spent the next 23 years wondering what had happened to their daughter.
"Pettway was dealing with the stress of trying to be a mom and had had several miscarriages. She did not believe she would ever be able to be a parent," a court document filed by FBI Special Agent Maria Johnson, who interviewed Pettway, stated. Johnson is a member of the FBI's Crimes Against Children Squad.
Pettway boarded a train for her home in Bridgeport, Conn., and told friends and family member the baby was her child.
For the following 23 years, Carlina White became Nejdra Nance.
But the lack of a birth certificate, Social Security card, or the missing resemblance to Pettway led White to question her identity when she was in her late teens.
White ultimately discovered that she had been kidnapped as a baby by searching missing children web sites, and in early 2011, was finally reunited with her real family.
Pettway went on the run after the kidnapping and reunion of White with her biological family made headlines, police said.
Authorities issued a warrant for Pettway's arrest for violating her parole in a North Carolina embezzlement case. A family member worked with authorities to arrange Pettway's surrender.
She "looked like the world was lifted off her shoulders ... looked a bit relieved ... because she had been running," Lt. David Daniels of the Bridgeport Police Department said.
Carlina White described Pettway to the New York Post last year as an abusive mother who would throw things like shoes at her. Pettway later moved to Atlanta, taking Carlina with her.
White's parents sued the city and with the money they won established a trust fund for their daughter in the event of her return.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2012.