A North Carolina woman accused of snatching an infant from a New York hospital more than two decades ago after failing in her own attempts to have children was ordered held without bail on kidnapping charges Monday in federal court in Manhattan.
Ann Pettway, 49, folded her hands, stared straight ahead and was silent during the five-minute court appearance. She surrendered Sunday, days after a widely publicized reunion between the child she raised -- now 23-year-old Carlina White -- and her biological mother.
Pettway's lawyer, Robert Baum, said beforehand: "She feels badly. She's very upset. She's expressed concern about her family. But she understands the gravity of the charges."
Pettway, of Raleigh, N.C., earlier confessed to taking the baby in early August 1987 from Harlem Hospital during an interview after she surrendered to the FBI and Bridgeport, Conn., police, FBI agent Maria Johnson said in a criminal complaint.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein ordered Pettway detained Monday after Baum said no bail application would immediately be made. Because there is no indictment, no plea was necessary. She could face a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison or as much as life if she is convicted.
Pettway said she had had difficulty having her own children in the 1980s, was dealing with the stress of trying to be a mother and had suffered several miscarriages, when she went to the hospital and saw the baby, the FBI said.
"Pettway took the victim from the victim's family and this was totally unacceptable. Pettway is truly sorry," Johnson said Pettway told her in a written statement.
After taking the baby, Pett-way brought her outside the hospital and, when no one stopped her, proceeded to a train and on to her home in Bridgeport, Conn., where she told friends and family members that the baby was her child, the agent said.
Brian Pettway, 38, a cousin of Pettway who lives in New Haven, Conn., said his cousin appeared pregnant in 1987 and disappeared, only to return with a baby the family assumed was hers. He said Pettway was a reliable, loving and trustworthy cousin, one of his favorites.
Brian Pettway said his cousin raised White "as best she could" in a crime-ridden neighborhood. He said White seemed happy and pleasant.
White was 19 days old when her parents took her to Harlem Hospital on Aug. 4, 1987, with a high fever. Joy White and Carl Tyson said a woman who looked like a nurse had comforted them. The couple left the hospital to rest, but their baby was missing when they went back the next day. A police investigation failed to locate the baby.