Press Releases

ANN PETTWAY PLEADS GUILTY IN MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT TO THE 1987 KIDNAPPING OF AN INFANT FROM HARLEM HOSPITAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday February 10, 2012

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ANNUGETTA PETTWAY, a/k/a “Ann Pettway,” pled guilty today to one count of kidnapping in connection with the 1987 abduction of a 19-day-old infant from Harlem Hospital.  PETTWAY pled guilty in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “There are few things more devastating than the loss of a child.  The parents of Carlina White had their lives shattered when their baby girl was stolen from them.  The kidnapping began a 24-year nightmare during every day of which they were denied the love, hopes, and dreams parents share with their children.  With today’s guilty plea, Ann Pettway will be punished for her egregious crime and this family can begin to piece together this part of their lives.”

According to the Complaint, plea agreement, and Information to which PETTWAY pled:

On August 4, 1987, a mother and father (the “Mother” and the “Father”) brought their infant daughter to Harlem Hospital, where she was admitted with a fever.  In the early hours of the following day, hospital personnel discovered that the baby girl was missing.  In January 2010, the victim of the kidnapping (the “Victim”), who is now 24 years old, told a New York City Police Department Detective (the “NYPD Detective”) that when she sought to obtain prenatal care for her own child, she asked PETTWAY for identification documents, such as a birth certificate.  PETTWAY told the Victim that she did not have identification documents for her because she had been given to PETTWAY by a woman who used drugs.

The Victim also told the NYPD Detective that in January 2011 she contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (“NCMEC”) to inquire about missing children from the late 1980s.  NCMEC directed the Victim to a picture of a missing child from 1987.  The Victim believed that the picture resembled her baby pictures.  NCMEC put the Victim in touch with the Mother and Father who had brought their daughter to Harlem Hospital on August 4, 1987.

Between January 4 and January 7, 2011, NYPD detectives obtained DNA samples from the Mother, the Father, and the Victim.  On January 18, 2011, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner concluded that the DNA samples matched.

On January 23, 2011, PETTWAY surrendered to authorities in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  At that time, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) interviewed PETTWAY who told them that she had difficulty having her own children and had several miscarriages. PETTWAY admitted going to Harlem Hospital, taking the Victim with her by train to Bridgeport, and raising her there as her own.  PETTWAY also admitted to trying to create a fake birth certificate for the Victim.

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PETTWAY, 50, of Raleigh, North Carolina, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.  She is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Castel on May 14, 2012, at 11:00 a.m.

Mr. Bharara praised the work of the FBI and the NYPD in this case.  He also extended his thanks to law enforcement authorities in North Carolina and Connecticut for their assistance.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Andrea L. Surratt is in charge of the prosecution.

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