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Woman accused of Harlem kidnap in 1987 held

The Associated Press

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., confessed earlier 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, Pettway took 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.

"Pettway is sorry and knows that she has caused a lot of pain," Johnson wrote.

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