Pettway went on the run last week after the kidnapping and reunion of White with her biological family made headlines, police said. Authorities issued a warrant for Pettway's arrest last Friday for violating her parole in a North Carolina embezzlement case.
"Up until this point, she had been making all direct contacts with her probation officer. The last face-to-face contact was on Jan. 6," Pamela Walker from the North Carolina Department of Corrections said.
Pettway narrowly escaped capture at a pawn shop in Connecticut on Saturday. The shop's manager recognized the ex-con from television and called police.
"They determined based on from surveillance video that it was her," Det. Keith Bryant from the Bridgeport Police said.
Daniels said that Pettway made it from North Carolina, where she lived, to Connecticut to ensure that her natural born son would be taken care of before she surrendered.
Pettway, the woman who White called Mom while growing up, has several aliases as well as a criminal history that includes charges of embezzlement, forgery, theft and drugs.
The surrender and upcoming arraignment of Pettway is something the family of Carlina White has been waiting to see for more than two decades.
"You're going to jail," Elizabeth White, aunt of Carlina White, said.
"She needs help, for her to take someone's child and make that person suffer," Lisa White, another of Carlina White's aunts, said.
Carlina White described Pettway to the New York Post as an abusive mother who would throw things like shoes at her. Pettway later moved to Atlanta, taking Carlina with her.
Back in New York, a $10,000 reward was offered for the safe return of the baby girl, but years passed without her return. The parents never gave up hope. They took the money won in a lawsuit from the city and established a trust fund for their daughter in the event of her return.
The kidnapping of White raises questions about how someone raising a child who wasn't their own could go undetected for so long. Even Pettway's brother said he had no idea White wasn't her real daughter.
"Why should I think twice about it? She just was a baby, just a baby," Kapell Pettway said.
Experts on missing children said that kidnapped children and their abductors often blend easily into society.
"Unless there's some clue, some hint, some member of the public that is suspicious, unfortunately these people do blend in," Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said.
While no one suspected anything was wrong, White did.
"Nejdra Nance was very suspicious of who she was and what family raised her," Lt. Christopher Zimmerman of the New York Police Department said. "There was no paperwork to follow her such as a birth certificate or social security card. In her late teens she became suspicious of who she was."
When Carlina White was unable to get a driver's license and saw no biological resemblance to the people she was living with, she grew suspicious.
"She said she just had a feeling, she felt different from the people raising her,"White's maternal grandmother, Elizabeth White, told The Associated Press.
Carlina White began looking at web sites for missing children, including the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children. Searching for her birth year, she spotted a photo of a baby along with a composite of how the child would look at 19.