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Video: Father to alleged kidnapper: Why, for 23 years?

  1. Transcript of: Father to alleged kidnapper: Why, for 23 years?

    MATT LAUER, co-host: But we begin with this half-hour with the latest on the decades-old kidnapping case that resulted in a remarkable reunion between a woman and her real parents. We'll talk to her father exclusively in a moment, but first Tom Llamas from WNBC , the NBC station here in New York , has the latest on the case. Tom , good morning to you.

    TOM LLAMAS reporting: Good morning, Matt. Ann Pettway will appear before a federal judge this morning here in New York City . Now over the weekend, the FBI and the NYPD were looking for her, but she turned herself in. Authorities believe that she kidnapped Carlina White 23 years ago from a New York hospital . The question is not only how, but why. This exclusive video shows Ann Pettway in custody leaving the FBI 's office in Bridgeport , Connecticut . Federal authorities say Pettway kidnapped Carlina White from Harlem Hospital in 1987 when White was just an infant. On Saturday, police say Pettway was spotted trying to sell items at this Bridgeport pawnshop.

    Detective KEITH BRYANT (Bridgeport, Connecticut Police Department): She was recognized by the clerk at the time. He then made a call to us and detectives responded to the incident location.

    LLAMAS: Pettway , who is 44, turned herself in on Sunday. She's also wanted for breaking probation in North Carolina . Pettway disappeared after news broke last week that the woman she called her daughter , Nejdra Nance , was really Carlina White .

    Unidentified Man (Relative of Accused Kidnapper Ann Pettway): The whole family believed that Ann was Nejdra 's mother, you know. There was never no questions about it.

    LLAMAS: Relatives say they remember seeing Pettway pregnant all those years ago , but admit no one in the family saw her give birth to Nejdra . Although all the facts of the Pettway care are not yet known, the FBI has developed a profile for baby snatchers.

    Mr. CLINT VAN ZANDT (Former FBI Profiler): The profile of a baby snatcher is normally a woman who has recently lost a child who has a fantasy about being a mother and has not been able to achieve it. It may be someone who has faked a pregnancy for the last seven, eight, nine months and now she needs to produce the proof of that pregnancy.

    LLAMAS: For more than two decades, Carl Tyson and Joy White had no idea what happened to their daughter .

    Mr. CARL TYSON: I think the lady's scared to bring the baby because she think we maybe going to press charges. But right now, I wouldn't press no charges against her, just bring me the baby.

    LLAMAS: That all changed last week when police say DNA confirmed Carlina 's true identity and she reunited with her biological mother and father. Carlina says she's long suspected Pettway wasn't her real mother because she couldn't produce a birth certificate. Carlina says she searched online and found a picture of a missing baby that looked like her own daughter . It helped solve the mystery of her life and experts say prosecutors have a strong case.

    Mr. VAN ZANDT: Even though this has been over a 20-year cold case for the authorities, we have DNA evidence . We have the statements of relatives basically going back from the time the little girl disappeared from the hospital. So I don't think this is going to be hard to put together at all.

    LLAMAS: Today in court, prosecutors may reveal what evidence they have against Ann Pettway . Something they don't have is surveillance video on that day back in August of 1987 . The surveillance cameras inside the hospital were

    not working. Matt: All right, Tom . Thank you very much . Carlina 's father, Carl Tyson , is with us exclusively along with his sister, Regina Tyson . Good morning to both of you.

    LAUER: Good morning, how you doing?

    Mr. TYSON: Good morning.

    Ms. REGINA TYSON (Aunt of Woman Kidnapped as an Infant): I'm trying to see the smile on your face. What have these last several days been like for you, Carl ?

    LAUER: Oh, they've been hard.

    Mr. TYSON: Hard in what? I mean, joyous in some ways?

    LAUER: Oh, I've got joy, yes.

    Mr. TYSON: But hard in what way?

    LAUER: Like, you know, right about now, excuse me for a minute. You know, I'm happy that now my daughter -- my daughter came back to me. Another problem is that I'm having right about now is it's hard for her to cope with us right now because she hasn't been with us for 23 years and she wants -- I know she wants to reunite with us and everything, but on the other hand , she had this other family that she's been with, so now she's...

    Mr. TYSON: She can't just walk away from 23 years of her life to say, OK, this is my real life over here. It's got to be a difficult adjustment.

    LAUER: It is. It really is.

    Mr. TYSON: You must have thought -- I mean, I know you thought about your daughter every day...

    LAUER: Every day.

    Mr. TYSON: ...since she went missing 23 years ago. When you -- when you stop to think about everything you missed that was taken from you.

    LAUER: Yes.

    Mr. TYSON: You know, the birthdays, the birthday parties, the friends, all of that, how do you deal with that?

    LAUER: It was really hard. When Christmastime come, there's no one, no kid there to give Christmas toys to. When a birthday come, no one to give a party to. So it was really hard. Walking down the streets seeing someone having a baby. I'm always looking at their baby, wondering if that's my baby. I don't have a young lady to take to the park. So it was hard.

    Mr. TYSON: Ann Pettway , the alleged kidnapper in this case, turned herself in to police over the weekend. She'll now face federal charges. I remember looking at that tape where 23 years ago you said on television, you said, 'I'm not going to press charges. I just want my baby back.' The federal government will now press charges. How have your feelings towards this person, if she is, in fact, the person, changed over the years?

    LAUER: Well, it has changed over the years because now, right about now, whatever the court system applied to her, that's all right with me. But I'm not going to say too much on that because I have other things in my heart.

    Mr. TYSON: I know one question you would love to have a chance to ask her...

    LAUER: Why?

    Mr. TYSON: ...is -- yeah.

    LAUER: Why?

    Mr. TYSON: I mean, can you even begin to speculate as to why?

    LAUER: That's all I have for her, why. And then just listen to what she has to say to me. Then I can probably answer some of her questions or ask her more questions. But why, why you do this to me for 23 years?

    Mr. TYSON: Regina , as a family, how do you go about getting to know the relative that you didn't know for 23 years? How do you do that?

    LAUER: Well, Carlina and I, we speak every day. And I spoke to Carlina two days ago as well as yesterday and Carlina just want everyone to know that she's not abandoned her New York City family, but the people that have provided unconditional love to her, it's very hard for her to just up and leave.

    Ms. TYSON: Right.

    Mr. TYSON: But there will be a balance. There will be a balance where she's going to -- you know, what Miss Pettway done, she want her -- she wants justice to be served, but the family that provided her with this unconditional love for these 23 years did not have no idea what was going on.

    Ms. TYSON: And they shouldn't be victimized because of this as well.

    LAUER: Exactly. Exactly.

    Ms. TYSON: Right.

    Mr. TYSON: So what you're telling me here is that after this emotional reunion, she had to go back to her life, her former life?

    LAUER: Well, she's 23 years old. She's an adult with a five-year-old.

    Ms. TYSON: Right.

    Mr. TYSON: So she lives in Atlanta . Now if she was 12, we could up and ship her to New York City .

    Ms. TYSON: Yes.

    Mr. TYSON: Like it was on January the 4th.

    Ms. TYSON: Or June 11 .

    Mr. TYSON: Right.

    LAUER: But she's 23 years old, have a five-year-old daughter . She resides in Atlanta , in Atlanta , Georgia . So we can't make that decision that she should be here in New York City .

    Ms. TYSON: We would like that.

    Mr. TYSON:

    Ms. TYSON: Carl , there's this -- there's been this piece of you that has been missing for 23 years.

    LAUER: Yes.

    Mr. TYSON: It's back in many ways. Do you feel whole or is this aspect of the fact that's she's got this entirely separate life, is that still kind of gnawing at you?

    LAUER: Well, it is -- has been a piece I've been missing, but I feel right now I have my piece now, I have my whole puzzle. I have all four of my kids now. So now the only thing I just want her -- I know I can't do all the things I wanted to do when she was little because on the day I met her I looked at her and I'm like, I don't know what to do with her. Should I feed her baby food or should we go to McDonald's . She said, 'Dad, I don't know what to do with you neither.'

    Mr. TYSON: 'I'm 23.'

    LAUER: 'I'm 23.' And then I says, so, what do you do at 23 year old? She say, 'Well, I want to do girl things.' She said, 'Maybe I want to go get my hair done.' I say, 'I'll sit there.' She said, 'But it's funny, sitting there with your father, I'm 23.' I don't, you know, it was hard that day, but I enjoyed her.

    Mr. TYSON: Yeah. Sounds like ...

    LAUER: I can't make up for the lost time , I can just take care of right now.

    Mr. TYSON: Sounds like it's going to be a bit of a slow process.

    LAUER: Oh, yes, it is.

    Mr. TYSON: Carl , thanks for coming in. Regina , thank you very much for your time.


TODAY contributor
updated 1/24/2011 3:51:03 PM ET 2011-01-24T20:51:03

Ever since his infant daughter Carlina White was abducted from Harlem Hospital 23 years ago, Carl Tyson was missing a piece of himself. Walking down a street, he’d spot a parent strolling with a child and wonder if the baby could be his.

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Last week, after many missed Christmases and birthdays and trips to the park, Tyson was at last reunited with his long-lost daughter. But the long-delayed event has been bittersweet, Tyson told TODAY’s Matt Lauer on Monday.

Video: Kidnapping cold case ends in warm reunion (on this page)

“I have joy, yes,” Tyson said. “I’m happy that now my daughter came back to me. The only problem I’m having is that it’s hard for her to cope with us right now, because she hasn’t been with us for 23 years.”

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Abducted as an infant
Carlina was just 19 days old in 1987 when she developed a fever, and Tyson and the infant’s mother, Joy White, took her to Harlem Hospital. There, authorities say, they were comforted by a woman posing as a nurse. They left the hospital, but when they returned, their baby was gone. For the next 23 years, the grief-stricken parents mourned the loss of their daughter, but never gave up hope that someday they would find her.

And then, last week, she found them.

Related: Kidnapped girl finds her own mom after 23 years

Now 23, and a mother herself, the young woman who had been raised in Connecticut and Atlanta under the name Nejdra Nance had long suspected that Ann Pettway, the woman who purported to be her biological mother, was not. She regularly checked the website of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and, while looking through New York photos earlier this month, found one that looked nearly identical to her own baby picture. She contacted Joy White through the center.

Video: Kidnapped girl, family ‘picking up’ from where they left off (on this page)

White and Nance met in New York before DNA tests were complete, confident they were mother and daughter. After the test results confirmed it Wednesday, Nance returned from Atlanta to be with her long-lost family.

On Sunday, Pettway surrendered to federal authorities in Connecticut.

According to court papers from her appearance on Monday, the FBI said Pettway admitted kidnapping White after her own attempts to have children failed . Pettway also said in a statement that she was "truly sorry."

NBC News
Ann Pettway, the woman who raised kidnapped Carlina White, surrendered Sunday to federal authorities in Connecticut.

Tyson, who vowed in the first days after the kidnapping not to press charges if his daughter was returned, now says that he will support whatever action federal authorities take in the case. “Whatever the court system applies to her, it’s all right with me. I’m not going to say too much on that because I have other things in my heart,” Tyson said.

Missing piece
For both Tyson and Carlina, their reunion has been a challenge as well as a miracle. “It is a piece I’ve been missing,” Tyson said. “I feel that I have my piece, I have my whole puzzle, and I’ve got all four of my kids now.”

Video: Father to alleged kidnapper: Why, for 23 years? (on this page)

But his daughter is no longer a little girl — in fact, she has a child of her own. “I know I can’t do all the things that I wanted to do when she was little,” Tyson told Lauer. “On the day that I met her, I looked at her, and said, ‘Wow, I don’t know what to do with her — should I feed her baby food or should we go to McDonald’s?’ She said, ‘Yeah, I don’t know what to do with you either.’ What do you do with a 23-year-old?”

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Fortunately, he added, Carlina had a suggestion: “She said, ‘Well, maybe I want to go get my hair done.’ ”

Related: Abducted girl’s aunt: Kidnapper ‘destroyed my family’

The long-awaited reunion has been just as challenging for Carlina after spending her entire life with another family, Regina Tyson, Carlina’s aunt, told Lauer. “I spoke to Carlina two days ago,” Regina said. “Carlina just wants everyone to know she’s not abandoning her New York City family, but the people that have provided unconditional love to her — it’s very hard for her to just up and leave.”

As for the woman who posed as her mother all those years, Carlina has told her aunt that she expects there will be justice. “She wants justice to be served, but the family that provided her with this unconditional love for these 23 years [had] no idea what was going on.”

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