Carlina White: Kidnapped Girl Finds Her Mother After 23 Years

Carlina White (CBS/WCBS)
Carlina White: Kidnapped Girl Finds Her Mother After 23 Years
Carlina White (CBS/WCBS)

NEW YORK (CBS/WCBS/AP) Twenty-three years ago, a mysterious woman dressed as a nurse abducted 19-day-old infant Carlina White from Harlem Hospital in New York City. But in what is nothing short of a miracle, that baby, Carlina White, who is now a young mother herself, has finally been reunited with her family.

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Biological relatives told WCBS that Carlina White - raised under the name Nejdra Nance - said she was raised in an abusive home in Connecticut and then later moved to Georgia after the Aug. 4, 1987 abduction.

"She said the lady used to leave her with her brother, who she thought was her brother," grandmother Elizabeth White told CBS stationCBS. "And said she didn't come back for days."

Nance realized something just wasn't right about her past and ultimately contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

That decision led her back to her biological mother, Joy White. Nance sent Joy White baby photos that looked nearly identical to shots of Carlina posted on a missing children's website. Nance told White she thought she may be her daughter.

Joy White contacted the New York Police Department to see if it could help investigate whether the woman was really Carlina White.

"It sounded legitimate and credible, so I had missing persons reach out to her," said Detective Martin Brown, who fielded the call. DNA tests performed on Joy White, her ex-husband, Carl Tyson, and 23-year-old Nance matched, police said. Nejdra Nance was Carlina White.

As part of their investigation, police are talking to retired detectives who handled the case years ago. Because she was so young when she was kidnapped, it's impossible for Nance to know if she has lived with the same family the entire time.

It took more than two decades, but Carlina White's grandmother said "We never gave up hope. We always thought one day she would come back."

Nance was on her way back to New York from Atlanta on Wednesday, said Elizabeth White, and Joy White was en route to the airport to meet her. But they already reunited once recently, when Nance came to New York with her 5-year-old daughter, Samani.

Elizabeth White said she didn't ask Nance too many questions about how she grew up or how she knew she was not a member of the family with whom she lived.

"That will all come," Elizabeth White said of the history. "What's important now is our baby girl is home. She's home."