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More than three decades after two toddlers vanished from the same Harlem playground, the boys’ families are still holding out hope that their story can end up like the Carlina White case.
As a new “Unsolved Mysteries” episode on the case entitled “Stolen Kids," airing now on Netflix, points out, both boys disappeared under similar circumstances: The incidents happened on Tuesdays in daylight while the park was crowded and while relatives of the boys were present.
Sadly, there have never been any solid leads or suspects in either tragic case.
“We don’t have bodies,” Ken Lindahl, a retired inspector for the New York Police Department who worked the cases, told the show. “We have two missing kids. You gotta have belief that maybe they survived.”
The episode put forth several theories of what could have happened to the boys, but the best case scenario theory is that both were sold into the black market, Lindal claimed. If true, that means they could still be alive and not the victims of abuse or murder.
And he's not the only one considering they could still be alive: “I think they were probably taken by people who couldn't have children, people who were desperate to have a baby,” Mary Murphy, a WPIX-TV reporter, told "Unsolved Mysteries" producers.
Sound crazy? Well, not only is such a scenario possible, but it has also happened before. The show points to one case that began in the very same area just two years prior.
Carlina White was 19 days old when she was kidnapped from a Harlem hospital in August 1987. Her parents had taken her in for care after she caught a fever of 104 degrees. A woman dressed as a nurse began comforting them — and then that faux nurse ended up snatching White.
White's parents were distraught but they never gave up hope they would find their baby, a dream which would come true years later.
In 2011, a woman, then 23, discovered herself she was the missing baby. She had been raised under the name Nejdra "Netty" Nance by a woman named Annugetta "Ann" Pettway, whom she thought was her biological mother. White became suspicious of her "mother" when she had a baby of her own in 2004 and needed medical insurance. She submitted her birth certificate and was informed that it was possibly a forgery, New York Magazine reported in 2011. Pettway then revealed to her that she wasn't her biological mom and claimed White's biological mom abandoned her.
White didn't learn the real truth until 2011. She had struggled to believe Pettway's story and began conducting research of her own. She combed through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children database, where she saw a photo of her as a newborn. She noticed the picture resembled her own baby photos. DNA then proved that she and the missing child were one and the same.
Pettway pleaded guilty to a federal kidnapping charge in 2012 and she was sentenced to 12 years in prison, the New York Times reported at the time.
Meanwhile, White was reunited with her biological parents.
“It was a blessing to see that,” Dansby’s mom, Allison Dansby, told the producers of “Unsolved Mysteries.” “It was a good story to hear and know that she was reunited with her family. The hope is that if it could happen to her it could happen to me, too."
Terry Dunn Meurer, "Unsolved Mysteries" series co-creator and executive producer, told Oxygen.com that the White case "gives hope to all families whose children have been abducted."
"Carlina was raised by a loving family and the truth of her true identity eventually emerged, years later," she said. "It’s stories like Carlina’s that definitely inspire hope."
Anyone with information about Danby and Walker's disappearance is urged to visit unsolved.com.
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