What we lose in the Shadows (A father and daughter True Crime Podcast)

Stolen Children

December 12, 2023 Jameson Keys & Caroline Season 1 Episode 34
Stolen Children
What we lose in the Shadows (A father and daughter True Crime Podcast)
More Info
What we lose in the Shadows (A father and daughter True Crime Podcast)
Stolen Children
Dec 12, 2023 Season 1 Episode 34
Jameson Keys & Caroline

Send us a Text Message.

Can you even begin to imagine the raw emotional turmoil of losing a child? Brace yourself for a harrowing journey into the shadowy world of child abduction in our latest episode. We will take you through an agonizing 51-year search for Melissa Highsmith, abducted at just two years old, underscoring the importance of unwavering hope even when the odds seem insurmountable. 

Then, we take a sharp turn into the shocking reality of infants kidnapped and nurtured by their abductors. We share the stories of two women who faced this distressing ordeal and discuss the subsequent legal fallout and emotional devastation endured by all involved. Ending on a heartwarming note, we express our endless gratitude to you, our loyal listeners, and send out warm holiday wishes. We're excited to hear your thoughts and case suggestions for future episodes. Be prepared, this is not for the faint-hearted but trust us, it's a journey worth taking.

Contact us at: whatweloseintheshadows@gmail.com



Background music by Michael Shuller Music

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Can you even begin to imagine the raw emotional turmoil of losing a child? Brace yourself for a harrowing journey into the shadowy world of child abduction in our latest episode. We will take you through an agonizing 51-year search for Melissa Highsmith, abducted at just two years old, underscoring the importance of unwavering hope even when the odds seem insurmountable. 

Then, we take a sharp turn into the shocking reality of infants kidnapped and nurtured by their abductors. We share the stories of two women who faced this distressing ordeal and discuss the subsequent legal fallout and emotional devastation endured by all involved. Ending on a heartwarming note, we express our endless gratitude to you, our loyal listeners, and send out warm holiday wishes. We're excited to hear your thoughts and case suggestions for future episodes. Be prepared, this is not for the faint-hearted but trust us, it's a journey worth taking.

Contact us at: whatweloseintheshadows@gmail.com



Background music by Michael Shuller Music

Speaker 1:

Good morning and welcome to what we Lose in the Shadows.

Speaker 2:

A father, daughter true crime podcast.

Speaker 1:

My name is Jameson Keyes.

Speaker 2:

I'm Caroline.

Speaker 1:

Good morning Caroline. How are you?

Speaker 2:

I'm good, how are you?

Speaker 1:

It's a very rainy rainy day as we record this new episode.

Speaker 2:

I'm happy it's not cold enough for snow. I hope we get some snow right around Christmas or around the holidays, but I don't really care for the cold at all.

Speaker 1:

I see. So you want Christmas only on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and maybe only Christmas Day.

Speaker 2:

Correct yes, definitely not New Year's, because I will be dressed up, don't want to deal with the snow, my heels.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely Sounds horrible, absolutely. So that's fantastic.

Speaker 2:

We have just hit 1000 downloads, which is amazing, and we wanted to thank everyone who listens and has listened to any and all of our podcasts, and if you haven't listened to them all, go ahead and listen to them back.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, and I wanted to also mention the fact that we will, as a lot of people will be celebrating the holidays here and we'll be doing that by taking a brief two week hiatus. We'll come back the first week in January with new shows and sort of our second season.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and we're very excited to have that time to rest, but also have that time to prepare and get great episodes on deck for next year. In regards to Matthew Grant, the missing RIT student, we do not have any updates besides the fact that the authorities are searching Syracuse and the Anorondacks. So we'll keep an eye on that and if anything pops up while we're on break, we'll definitely let you know about that.

Speaker 1:

Of course, yeah, good wishes. I hope they find them. I know I just read something today that his father is up in that area and he's trying to retrace any possible way he could have gone and he said in something I read, and I think it was the New York Times, that he can't imagine going home until he finds his child or figures out what happened.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, it's so sad and I just I really hope they find him soon. Trigger warning for today is child abduction. It's every parent's worst nightmare to have a child taken from them. I can't imagine the pain that must ensue after someone takes a child away. It's one of the ultimate injustices in life.

Speaker 1:

And it's a parent's biggest fear.

Speaker 2:

I know, yeah. And as for the child, I mean it's almost even worse.

Speaker 2:

I mean to be stolen away from your family as you're developing and to have your parents just taken away or you never get to know your parents that wanted you. It's so sad. It's literally the worst. I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. The first child that I'm going to be talking about today is Melissa Highsmith. In 1971 in Fort Worth, texas, melissa's mom, alta, was searching for a babysitter for her daughter. Melissa was almost two years old at this point. This was well before carecom and other babysitting sites, and so Alta did what a lot of people did she put an ad in the local newspaper for a babysitter. Do you remember this?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, sure.

Speaker 2:

You remember people doing that? Oh yeah. Yeah, it wasn't uncommon, it was a common method for people looking to find a babysitter or even a date back in the day. I've heard Right they had personal ads.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, personal ads right Literally.

Speaker 2:

So one day Alta was at work when the person answered her ad. Melissa had been with Alta's roommate at the time, so Alta's roommate was babysitting Melissa. When the new babies that are came to pick Melissa up, the roommate opened the door and let them in. For some reason, the source material is really thin on the kidnapper. Anything about the kidnapper. There's no name, there's no gender. I have no. Yeah, it's really strange. I can't find anything about them. I don't know. I'm guessing, because maybe they couldn't have taken them to court or something, so they can't prove it. I don't know.

Speaker 1:

I have no idea what year is this again?

Speaker 2:

This is um 1971.

Speaker 2:

Oh Okay so they may have may have passed and they weren't able to take them to court, so they couldn't say I have no idea. I think it's really strange, but so After Melissa went with the babysitter, she wasn't seen again. Her family immediately called the police when she wasn't back on time with the babysitter. The police searched for a baby in Melissa, but to no avail. They had her poster everywhere in Fort Worth and they didn't stop. For years, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children posted updates on what she would look like. As the years passed, the police had many tips come in, but they all ran dry. Decades passed, her parents worried that they would never see their daughter again, and this family never gave up, and on November of last year, 2022, they found her oh, wow.

Speaker 2:

She was living under a different name and had no idea that her biological family had been looking for her for 51 Years how did she figure it out? So Guess guess how they found her.

Speaker 1:

DNA she.

Speaker 2:

So DNA testing with 23 and mean so her father, jeffrey High Smith, took a DNA test Last year, in 2022, and submitted it at the request of his children, his other children- oh my god. They thought you know this could be it if she was alive and she was, jeffrey had the same DNA as Melissa's three children, who had done 23, and me. So Melissa hadn't but her children had.

Speaker 1:

Wow, did she realize she had been taken?

Speaker 2:

no, she thought she was just adopted. Wow it's common, like most times, like people don't know that they were taken, like they just think they were adopted, because why would they not?

Speaker 1:

right and as awful as that is, at least she's alive, at least you know, I mean, my god, I was afraid this is gonna take a really, really dark direction when you said that.

Speaker 2:

I know, and it does for many people. This is a. This is a beautiful story. Well, beautiful in the sense that it does have like a happy ending. A happy ending ish right, because she was taken for 51 years. They missed out, with out on her life for 51 years any mention when she wasn't.

Speaker 1:

She wasn't harmed any way, she was.

Speaker 2:

She was just raised.

Speaker 1:

You know, back in the day.

Speaker 2:

Wait, hold on, stop over. Okay, well, actually you can go, yeah, go ahead.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so back in the day it wasn't super uncommon, I mean, and for quite a long time, if someone could not have children. And back in 1971, I mean you, there really wasn't, you know there weren't fertility clinics per se. Right, you know there wasn't Some of the you know technology that we have today that can actually bring that about. If you couldn't have children, you couldn't have children. So I have heard stories before we're children were kidnapped and and just taken as their own child. Some of them were good parents, you know, you know, even though they stole someone else's child, but they didn't harm them and words, and sometimes it wasn't so nice right.

Speaker 2:

But, did you know anyone that had happened to know? Actually, do know someone that happened to really. Yeah, she's um, she's a sweetheart, but I'll have to see if she'll come on.

Speaker 1:

Actually, I did know something was kidnapped. I mean we should talk to her.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we should definitely talk to her anyways. Okay, they so. After Melissa was reunited with her family, they spent the holidays together as a family for the first time in half a century last year.

Speaker 1:

That's great.

Speaker 2:

She also officially changed her name back to what it always should have been Melissa Highsmith. This is an ending that most people do not get to have. Most children who are kidnapped never come home, and so to hear that sometimes they do get to be reunited with their families is really beautiful, and I hope this inspires people who are continuing to look for their mislead ones. The second story that I'm gonna tell you about is that of Carlina white. Carlina was born to Joy White and Carl Tyson. She was born in New York City, in Harlem, in 1987.

Speaker 2:

Newborn babies have to be taken care of 24, seven right, because they're getting adjusted to their new environment outside the womb. Right, they're still building an immune system for much of their first few months. I and so many things can go wrong with the newborn. They can develop diseases easily due to their lack of immune system. Then there's SIDS, which causes babies to die in their sleep without a cause that doctors have been able to identify, and many more things. Parents are typically constantly monitoring their newborns, and for good reason. You laugh.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I would wake up in the middle of the night, even if you weren't crying, and I would. This sounds creepy, but it really isn't. I would. Even when you were first born, you were in a bassinet in our room right beside the bed, and so that was an easy check. But when you finally were old enough to move into your own room, multiple times a night, I would actually get up and go in and just make sure that you were okay and Breathing, breathing.

Speaker 2:

That sounds so paranoid. No, it's scary.

Speaker 1:

Well, and when you were a little, when you were a baby, they had these things that were kind of, I don't know. They determined or they thought that stomach sleepers were maybe more apt to have a problem with SIDS.

Speaker 1:

So there was this little wedge thing that would place you on your side in this little wedge thing so you wouldn't roll over on your stomach. But you were such a determined little baby you would have squirmed out of it and kicked the thing to the bottom of it. Okay so yeah, but I checked on you quite often.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think a lot of parents do so. In Carlinna's case, she developed a fever of 104 at only 19 days old.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

So her parents were obviously very concerned and took her to the Harlem Hospital to figure out what had happened. A woman named Anne Petway was impersonating a nurse at the time and had been for two weeks when the whites came in. She was waiting for the right moment to snatch a baby away for herself. Unfortunately, that was Carlinna. Anne Petway was unable to carry a baby to full term and decided that she was going to take one. No, no. When the nurses were changing shifts, that's when Anne stole Carlinna. She carried her out of the hospital in her jacket at 2 am.

Speaker 1:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

Yep. The hospitals did have security cameras, but of course they were not working at the time this is so common.

Speaker 2:

I'm like why are all these cameras not working? It seems like it should be a priority Like I don't know. Carlinna was raised by Anne Petway and she renamed her Nidra Nance and she got the nickname Nettie. Anne took her to Bridgeport, connecticut, which is only 45 miles from Harlem. Carlinna went to school and grew up thinking that Anne was her mother. She graduated high school from Warren Harding High School in Connecticut. Carlinna started to become suspicious that Anne was not her biological mother during her teen years, though. Carlinna and Anne moved to Atlanta, georgia, later on, and Carlinna became a parent herself, and while she was pregnant. She wanted to have her own insurance at that point and asked Anne for her birth certificate. Anne forged a birth certificate and gave it to her, and when Carlinna submitted this to her insurance company, they told her that it wasn't a legitimate document. This obviously scared Carlina and led her to further believe that she was not Ann's biological daughter.

Speaker 1:

Wow, wow. How could you get along that far? Along with that, any birth certificate necessary, I mean for driver's license or passport or whatever. Wow, and what year was this again?

Speaker 2:

This was in, so she was born in 1987, so she's that would be like early 2000s yeah she's 36. Mm-hmm, not well, now yeah but not then.

Speaker 1:

at this point she's like 20.

Speaker 2:

Okay, yeah, so she's just figuring out the world, you know whatever. I don't know how her mom got away without the births, or I don't know how Ann got away without the birth certificate, but she didn't. She wasn't really thinking of it, probably like as a child, until she became like pregnant and she was like 20s. And 20s and she was like oh, I need this right.

Speaker 2:

Carlina confronted Ann about all of her suspicions and Ann confessed to her that she was not her mother, but she made up a story about where she came from, saying that it was a drug addict who gave her Carlina, which is why she didn't have formal documents. But that didn't sit right with Carlina, because why would she trust her now?

Speaker 1:

right.

Speaker 2:

Carlina started searching for herself in databases of missing children, and one day, while searching the database of the National Center for missing and exploited children, she found a picture that resembled herself.

Speaker 1:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm. She looked back at photos that Ann had taken of her as a child and they matched. She called the center's hotline, explain the situation and they sent her a DNA test.

Speaker 1:

Dna to the rescue again I know, yeah, it's really a great tool for crime.

Speaker 2:

In 2011, carlina was 24 and had received the results on a DNA test that she was, in fact, missing person. Carlina white Wow Same year.

Speaker 2:

Carlina was reunited with her parents and her parents had been granted a large sum of money from a suit against the hospital. Carlina had been advised by her lawyer to ask about that. They had spent it all and saved a trust for her if she was found before she was 21. Since she wasn't, the fund was no longer active and they had a falling out for a while, sure, over the money, but have since reconciled and are now in contact with each other, which is amazing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, carlina chose to take her original name back as Carlina white but likes her nickname that she got of netty netty white Mm-hmm. She says that she still goes by it cuz she gave it to herself. The FBI back in 2011 Started writing in a arrest warrant quickly for Ann Pettaway. Only a few days after the FBI issued her warrant and turned herself in, in July of 2012, a judge sentenced Ann to only 12 years. Wow, isn't that scary 12 years. For upending countless people's lives.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And stealing a child away from her loving parents at only 19 days 19 days. It's disgusting. Yeah, For 23 years. During the hearing, Petway apologized, saying I would like to apologize to the family. It may be rejected, but I'm deeply sorry for what I've done. If they don't accept it, it's understandable. I'm here to right my wrong. I think you should be. It's literally unhinged.

Speaker 1:

It is unhinged, but I think you should be. Yeah, I think you should receive a sentence of at least 23 years At least, because that's what you've stolen from this family.

Speaker 2:

I think it should be 25 plus always. I think any kidnapping should be 25 plus Right. It's literally ridiculous. Petway was released after serving her sentence on April 14th 2021. So she's already out. And she's living in Alabama. How terrifying is that.

Speaker 1:

It is when you were born. You were born in this birthing suite. They had this terrible little chair that folded out into an even more uncomfortable bed, so I was sleeping on that. When you were in the hospital and your mom was recovering. Every night, about one o'clock or something like that, the nurses would come in and you had a wristband on that said who you were and that sort of thing. But your mom would wake me up and say they've taken her. And I'm like whoa, whoa, what. Who's taking her? And the nurses?

Speaker 1:

I'm like well, it's the nurses, she goes, go out and make sure that they're, then it'll switch babies. I'm like why would they switch?

Speaker 2:

babies. It happens, though it does happen, though it doesn't happen. Very often it doesn't but scary.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but she would make me go out there.

Speaker 2:

I would do the same.

Speaker 1:

She would make me go out there and I would apologize and say I'm her bodyguard and will be for the remainder of my life. But for this very moment I have to make sure that you're not switching her, because your mom was saying things like I'm going to scratch her on the foot or something, so I'll know. I'm like let's not give her an infection. That's insane. I'll go out. That's fine. Literally. Thank God you didn't have a Sharpie. She would have written on the bottom you're fucking, caroline.

Speaker 2:

Honestly though. Yeah, I mean I would do the same thing Because it's scary. It's so scary obviously.

Speaker 1:

Right, but at least in these cases that the children didn't go to an abusive household and that sort of thing.

Speaker 2:

I don't think the first person had a great experience, but there wasn't a lot of detail on it. But she was found alive and she was reunited with her family Right Well that's the great part. Yes, it is, I mean it's really amazing, like I mean it's so uncommon. But yeah, I mean it's crazy.

Speaker 1:

It is. It is, but it is in fact a happy ending. So many of their stories aren't happy endings, and when these actually are pretty happy endings, then in the end that's great.

Speaker 2:

And I just feel like, yes, it's happy, but also like all of those years, oh my God, I think it was back, no, and it's like it's so irritating. You know what I mean. I don't think you're gonna like to see it. Well, the entitlement to take someone else's child is. It's crazy, I don't know. It's very strange.

Speaker 1:

Right, and there have been other stories of, for example, with people that have had children together. We did a story earlier this year about. I think the gentleman was, I think the man was from. Turkey yeah and he decided to take the two children and go back to Turkey. I know it's so sad. Yeah, that's terrifying too, because you know this is straight up yes, it's the child's father, but, no, he can't unilaterally decide to take them out of the country.

Speaker 2:

That's illegal by the way. It is illegal so and he's in hiding.

Speaker 1:

And he's in hiding and hiding. He should be and has been for what?

Speaker 2:

eight, nine years?

Speaker 1:

now 12?

Speaker 2:

Like it's something horrible. It's really really sad. Yeah, that's dastardly.

Speaker 1:

I mean when you steal time from someone, it's just you can't. And sometimes, like, for example, the hospital you mentioned in that one case, they had to pay a sum because the baby was stolen, as they should. Jesus, where is your security?

Speaker 2:

How are they pretending to be nurses.

Speaker 1:

What the?

Speaker 2:

hell Right, could I just go in there and pretend to be a nurse right now? That is terrifying. Not now you think so, but I mean, you never know like some of these places are not like as secure as they should be. You know your mom. Not just hospitals, but buildings in general.

Speaker 1:

Right. Your mom, for example. She insisted. We lived in a small town outside of Pittsburgh and there was a hospital there, and she insisted on going into a much, much, much more affluent hospital and one of her major concerns was the fact that they had cameras everywhere. Yep, there were cameras in the hallways, there were cameras in the stairwells. It was a much, more, much wealthier place. They had on-site security and that sort of thing. And of course, they had me getting up at one o'clock in the morning to make sure that you were fed in, your weight and diaper was changed, and that sort of thing. I just they just started laughing. They weren't even offended after the second or third time.

Speaker 2:

So I mean honestly, I don't want to physically have children. I want to adopt children. But if I did, I would make my partner go. I would be like, yeah, no, you don't leave her side, right, because I can't. So you have to, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I mean it's valid, sure, it's so valid, but yeah, no, when it's parental kidnapping. I think that's like 80% of kidnapping or somewhere in there. So it's a really high percentage and it's more often more often than not like a vengeful kidnapping. It's so stupid.

Speaker 1:

Mainly a guy. It's so sad.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it does happen, it does happen often with men, and it's interesting because both of these were women. Well, I don't know about the first one. I had the feeling that it was a woman, but I don't know for sure. But you know, I definitely the second one.

Speaker 1:

That's been the topic of different things. Even movies and books and things like that were a woman and it can be anywhere from a long time ago, like back in the West and that sort of thing where women couldn't have children of their own and a child was taken and that kind of thing. So it's been an ongoing thing for a very, very long time.

Speaker 2:

Scary, but that obviously gives no justification for stealing someone else's child. It's just, it's insane.

Speaker 1:

In this day and age. It's ridiculous too, because there are so many children that go unadopted. There's so many children available, even if they're not babies. There's so many children that are out there to adopt, Then why? Why would you ever do that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, especially when you foster children. If you can foster children, the state and the federal government pay you to do so. So why would you not like? I don't know? I guess because if you're fostering, there's a chance that they'll move them. So that may be too much. I don't know, but it's very strange. Yeah, it's interesting that you mention that a lot of children in the adoption or in orphanages are not babies, which is true. And I have read up on adoption because, again, I'm considering far in the future not now, but I'm considering adopting and they say that after the child turns three they're much less likely to get adopted. How sad is that. So sad.

Speaker 2:

Which is why I'm definitely going to adopt three-year-older.

Speaker 1:

Right, and there are even teenagers like 10, 12, 13,. Nobody wants to adopt that.

Speaker 2:

It's so sad that's so sad that breaks my heart it does. If I have a ton of money, I would adopt teenagers just to have them have a support system.

Speaker 1:

For sure.

Speaker 2:

Because they may not see you as like your parents, but, like you know, everyone needs a support system.

Speaker 1:

Yes, everyone needs a family.

Speaker 2:

And speaking of family, we are very happy that you come here every week to listen to us and join our little family of followers. So, and true crime enthusiasts people who like to know what's going on in the world. So, from our family to yours, happy holidays. And if you're not celebrating, I still hope you have an amazing break, because if you're celebrating or not, everyone needs a break. That is always the case, right? Oh, my goodness, I'm excited to not be working for a few days.

Speaker 1:

And from Caroline and I. Once again, we want to thank you so much for listening to us and we hope 2024 is the best year ever.

Speaker 2:

I agree. Follow the show on whatever streaming site you're listening on.

Speaker 1:

And remember. All of the source material will be available in the show notes.

Speaker 2:

And follow us on Instagram at whatwelewsintheshadows, and let us know if you want to hear a specific case.

Speaker 1:

Or if you just want to give us some feedback.

Speaker 2:

OK, join us in the shadows next Tuesday. Bye.

Child Abductions
Parental Kidnapping and Adoption
Happy Holidays and Year-End Thank You