Cold case over: Carlina White, kidnapped as infant from hospital 24 years ago, reunites with familyAn infant kidnapped 24 years ago from a city hospital improbably resurfaced this month to reunite with her family, resolving one of the NYPD's most perplexing cold cases.
Carlina White - last seen by her biological parents as a feverish 3-week-old infant - met her mother, father and other now-ecstatic relatives over the weekend.
"We ate and talked and got to know each other ... I feel great," said her mother, Joy White, who also met her granddaughter for the first time.
"I can sleep! I can definitely sleep now because this has been on my mind for so many years."
A DNA match revealed the connection between the adult woman living in Georgia under a different name and her New York relatives.
The girl's kidnapper - a drug-user who once beat Carlina with a shoe - remained the target of a police search, according to Joy White.
"She didn't really raise her," the irate mother said. "She neglected her and let other people raise her."
The family's anger toward the missing suspect was overwhelmed by their elation about the discovery of the now 23-year-old woman.
"Carlina came home!" said her grandmother, Elizabeth White, 71, of Manhattan. "She came up from Atlanta and we were all here. Oh, what a beautiful girl."
"To take somebody else's baby and neglect it and and not take care of it - you have to be a sick person," Joy White said. "(Carlina) told me she never said someone to say 'I love you,' or hug her."
Carlina contacted an organization for missing and exploited children to follow up on her suspicions.
The girl's mother learned her daughter was still alive Jan. 4, when she received photos of the missing girl. A DNA match last night confirmed their ties, she said.
"I was screaming, I was so excited," said Joy White. "As soon as I saw those pictures I said, 'That's my daughter.' I saw myself in her."
Nejdra is the mother of a 5-year-old daughter, Samani, who came north with her.
"She's so beautiful," said Joy White. "She was like, 'I love you grandma.' Everything is grandma, grandma!"
Dad Carl Tyson said he didn't need any tests to know the young woman was his child.
"I already knew in my heart that this was my daughter," said Tyson, who was 22 when the girl disappeared. "All I could do is shed tears."
When a detective told Tyson the test results were a match, Tyson said he cried more tears of joy.
The grandmother and mom said they never gave up hope.
Five years ago, a weepy Joy White told the Daily News that she still prayed daily for the return of her daughter - and believed Carlina would one day return.
It was August 1987 when the little girl's abduction - the only known hospital kidnapping in New York history - stunned the city. It stumped investigators for more than two decades.
The three-week-old girl, just 21 inches long and weighing eight pounds, was rushed to Harlem Hospital by her parents with a 104-degree temperature.
A woman dressed as a nurse approached 16-year-old Joy White in the emergency room, offering soothing words to the worried mother.
"Don't cry," she said. "Everything's going to be all right."
But everything instead went wrong. The compassion was actually a cover-up, and the woman brazenly snatched the infant before disappearing.
Authorities said the white-clad woman was hanging around the hospital for several weeks before the kidnapping.
Police managed to track one suspect to Baltimore, but were never able to bring charges in what became one of the NYPD's coldest cases.
White and father Carl Tyson received a $750,000 settlement from the city after filing a lawsuit. The couple split up about a year after their daughter's disappearance.
Both went on to raise separate families while wondering about the fate of their first born.
Ann Pettway turned herself in for the kidnapping.Federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleged Monday that Annugetta "Ann" Pettway admitted to federal agents Sunday that she took 19-day-old Carlina White from Harlem Hospital Center in August 1987 without consent. Ms. White was suffering from a fever and had been brought to her hospital by her parents, prosecutors said.
Ms. Pettway, who had difficulty having her own children and had several miscarriages, raised Ms. White as her own child, prosecutors said.
Ms. Pettway, who also has a teenage son, "understands the gravity of the charges."
Ms. Pettway told agents that she "is sorry and knows that she has caused a lot of pain," according to the complaint.
In a written statement, Ms. Pettway said taking Ms. White from her family was "totally unacceptable" and she is "truly sorry," according to the complaint.