Ann Pettway confessed to authorities that she kidnapped Carlina White 23 years ago after enduring several miscarriages and today was ordered held without bail.
Pettway was arraigned on one federal kidnapping charge in Manhattan federal court this afternoon.
If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Pettway, 49, looked defeated and downcast as she was arraigned. She did not enter a plea and was ordered held without bail.
Earlier she told officials that she is "truly sorry," according to the criminal complaint filed today.
"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," according to a court document filed by FBI Special Agent Maria Johnson who interviewed Pettway. Johnson is a member of the FBI's Crimes Against Children Squad.
Pettway told the FBI that she took White, then just 19 days old, from Harlem Hospital in 1987.
"When no one stopped Pettway, Pettway took the victim with her on a train to Pettway's home in Bridgeport, Connecticut," according to Johnson's court document. "Pettway told her friends and family members that the victim was her child. "
She told authorities that she tried to create a fake birth certificate for White, renaming her Nejdra Nance, but was unable to create a fake document that appeared real, according to court documents.
The lack of a birth certificate was one of the things that made Carlina White suspicious that something was not right. According to court documents, when White asked Pettway for her birth certificate, the woman lied, saying she didn't have one because White had been given to her by a woman who used drugs.
White ultimately discovered that she had been kidnapped as a baby by searching missing children web sites, and earlier this year was finally reunited with her real family.
"Nothing can compensate Carlina White or her parents for what was stolen from them when she was seized from the Harlem Hospital 23 years ago," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said today. "But now they have been reunited, and the woman who allegedly kidnapped Carlina and deprived this family of the lives they would have had together will be prosecuted in Manhattan federal court."
White's worried parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, had taken their feverish daughter to the hospital 23 years ago. Pettway posed a nurse, took the baby from the couple and pretended to take her for treatment. The couple didn't see their daughter until earlier this month when White's true identity was established.
"Pettway took the victim from the victim's family and this was totally unacceptable. Pettway is truly sorry," according to Johnson's court document.
Pettway turned herself in to FBI officials in Bridgeport, Conn., on Sunday. Lt. David Daniels was the point person from the Bridgeport Police Department who helped arrange the surrender. Daniels said that Pettway had a relative contact the authorities through Facebook.
Daniels said that the Pettway family is well known in the area and that his own sister had been friends with Pettway.
Daniels, with the help of the FBI, arranged a neutral location to meet Pettway. He said that she was relieved to confess.
She "looked like the world was lifted off her shoulders ... looked a bit relieved ... because she had been running," Daniels said.