In the years between 1983 and 2010, 271 cases of infant abduction were reported to the authorities. Now 27 years later, one of the 12 remaining unsolved cases has been solved; by the victim herself!
On August 4, 1987, Carlina White was just 19 days old and running a high fever when Joy White, her 16-year-old single mother took her baby girl to the local Harlem hospital. When White returned the following day to check on her infant daughter, she was gone and a nationwide search failed to find the presumed kidnapped baby. Twenty-three years later Nejdra Nance, who had suspected the woman who raised her in an abusive home was not her biological mother, began a search for what she believed would be her real birth parents. Since she was a teenager Nance had known that her "mother," Anne Pettway, someone with a lengthy criminal history and currently on parole in North Carolina, had consistently failed to produce a birth certificate or social security card for the girl she had named "Nejdra." Like so many children seeking the true identity of their birth parents, Nejdra Nance took to the Internet.
Nance eventually found a picture of a missing child, a little girl kidnapped from a NYC hospital in August 1987, that she thought looked a lot like her baby pictures, a baby who she also thought resembled Nance’s own now 6-year-old daughter when she was a baby. Nance never believed she bore any real resemblance to Anne Pettway. With the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Nance identified the birth parents of the 1987 baby whose picture looked so familiar to her as Joy White and Carl Tyson. The NYPD assisted with a DNA analysis that would solve a 23-year-old mystery; Nejdra Nance was really Carlina White.
The FBI has taken an active role in attempting to identify those responsible for White's kidnapping, noting that the federal statute of limitations does not toll on a kidnapped child; therefore White's kidnapper could be prosecuted for their crime almost a quarter of a century ago. White's family believe that the woman who raised Carlina, Anne Pettway, had dressed in a nurse's uniform, slipped into the hospital, and walked away with Carlina as a substitute for the baby she had recently lost. Now the hunt is on and Pettway has dropped from sight.
Infant Abductions in America
Of the 271 reported cases of infant kidnapping in the past 27 years, 47 percent of these occurred from hospitals, with almost 60 percent of these babies taken from their mother's hospital room. Of the remaining infant kidnappings, 108 were taken once the baby came home, while the remaining 35 occurred in various other places and locations. While the number of infants kidnapped from hospitals has declined appreciably since 1983, this due to advances in hospital security and other new procedures enacted to prevent such child thefts, the number of infants kidnapped from their own homes and other public places has, unfortunately, increased.
There has also been an increase in the number of injuries to the parents of the kidnapped infants, to include, in some rare but significant instances, forced caesarians. In these cases a pregnant woman is kidnapped and her unborn is cut from her womb, in one terrible case with the kidnapper using a car key to cut the fetus out of the mother. Such kidnappings usually revolve around the kidnapper’s desire to sustain a relationship with a significant other or to fulfill a child bearing desire or fantasy. In such crimes there is usually evidence of planning and preparation on the part of the offender, someone willing to kill to fulfill their narcissistic needs. And while these and other related statistics are shocking, we know that about 95 percent of infants kidnapped under these discussed circumstances are ultimately rescued.
Profile of an Infant Abductor
The nation was shocked on March 1, 1932, when the 20-month old son of aviator Charles A. Lindbergh was kidnapped from his nursery in the Lindbergh’s rural N.J. home. A $50,000 ransom was paid by the young boy’s parents for his safe return, sadly one that would not be. Seventy-three days later the child's badly decomposed body bearing evidence of a violent murder was found just 4 1/2 miles from the Lindbergh's home. Three years later Bruno Hauptman would be identified as the kidnapper. He was tried, convicted, and executed the follow year, but some conspiracy theorists continue to doubt his actual role in the kidnapping and murder.
The motive for infant kidnappings today does not usually parallel that of young Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. Most infant abductors kidnap an infant or young child as a substitute for a baby they had recently lost, or to provide proof for their past 9-month lie, one they told to those around them, especially their significant other, that they were pregnant. When the time came for the believed birth, the woman living such a lie needs to produce proof, one they usually seek in the form of a child kidnapped from a hospital or private home setting.
Abigale Woods was just 11-days old in September 2006. Her mother heard a knock on their door and opened it to see 36-year-old Shannon Torrez standing there. Torrez asked to use the telephone, but immediately attacked the new mother with a knife, slitting her throat before snatching baby Abigale and running off into the Missouri day light. Torrez's sister-in-law wiped aside the makeup on the infant's head and found the telltale birthmark that was all over the news relating to the assault and kidnapping. Police and the FBI quickly rescued the baby and arrested Torrez, someone who claimed to have just had a still born child. Other kidnappers simply take a new born because they want a new baby, noting some women are already mothers when they kidnap a new born.
The FBI and other agencies have developed a profile of a non-family member, non-ransom infant kidnapper. The kidnapper is usually a woman who is many times overweight (allowing, perhaps, for a faked pregnancy). She may have impersonated a nurse or other health care employee and in the case of hospital abduction, may have visited the hospital prior to the kidnapping. She is usually from the local community and plans to raise the child as her own. And while the kidnapping may have been planned, such an individual will not necessarily have targeted a specific infant, but simple seized any potential victim of opportunity.
Tips for the Parents of Newborns - Mothers are a newborn's first line of defense!
1. Never leave your baby alone in your hospital room, not even for a few minutes.
2. Make sure that you positively identify any person, either in a hospital or who visits you in your home, who claims to be a care giver for your child.
3. Follow all hospital security procedures, to include the use of electronic bracelets on you and your infant.
4. Do not place birth announcements in the local newspaper, announce the birth on a general Internet site, or place birth announcements on your lawn, to include balloons announcing a newborn.
5. Do not give information over the telephone to a stranger, no matter what she or he claims to be their affiliation.
6. Do not allow casual acquaintances to baby sit and be sure to vet all sitters.
7. Question anyone who attempts to befriend you due to your newborn child.
8. Do not leave your child unattended at home, and be sure to lock your doors, even in the daytime.
9. Question anyone who offers free infant products, furniture, etc., to gain contact with your new baby.
10. Remember that as the mother of a newborn, you are your baby's first line of defense.
For more information concerning personal and family safety and security, to obtain a free copy of our DVD "Protecting Children from Predators," and to find out the identity and location of sex offenders in your community, go to www.LiveSecure.org.
UPDATE: On 1/23/11, Anne Pettway was arrested and subsequently confessed to the kidnapping of Carlina White from the hospital.