GREENSBORO, N.C. — Tonie McNair once lived in building 1808 at Carolina Circle Apartments (now Ashleigh Park Apartments) in Greensboro.
McNair was on her way to work around 6 a.m. Nov. 12, 1999, when she noticed something bundled in a sheet outside her apartment door.
“I thought it was a kitten,” she said.
She took a closer look. It was a baby.
“I saw the umbilical cord wrapped up under her arm, so I ran back into the house screaming and hollering,” she said.
Her sons Willie and Ricky, who were 19 and 15 at the time, were inside.
“We saw her out there wrapped, we were like, ‘Oh my God,’ I called the police and the ambulance,” Willie Baldwin said.
EMS arrived to take “Baby Doe” to the hospital.
McNair says she never stopped thinking about that baby girl outside her door.
“I will never forget it and I always wondered what happened to her. I always wondered,” she said.
Willie Baldwin saw FOX8’s initial story on Angel Thomas and shared the information with his mother.
McNair called FOX8 the same day the first story aired, hoping our news staff could bring her and Angel together almost two decades later.
Both sides met just outside where Angel’s story began – at building 1808.
“I always said that before I laid down and died that I hoped that she was safe,” McNair tearfully told Angel.
Angel told the family how much of a blessing they are to her.
“Thank you so much,” she told them.
“It’s just crazy to think that people who never knew me or knew me for just a split second of my life still thought about me 17 years later,” she said.
“It’s a blessing to see her, how she is today,” Ricky Baldwin said.
Angel’s family members, including her adoptive parents who have raised her since she was 6 weeks old, were there.
“It feels great to see the pieces of her life finally come together,” said Carrie Thomas, Angel’s mother.
“I’m just grateful the lady was in the spot she was in and her sons helped out so much,” said Daryl Thomas, Angel’s father.
The day was also a moment of healing for Angel’s biological mother Rochetta Cheek.
Cheek was in a living situation where she was being raped.
“It’s something I don’t wish on anybody. Anybody,” Cheek said.
On Nov. 12, 1999, she had given birth to Angel at just 13 years old at 1:36 a.m.
Cheek says the man who assaulted her took the baby after she was born.
“This was her resting ground. I thought that she didn’t live after that night. He did place her there at 4:30 something in the morning. There used to be a dumpster over here. He was going to put her there or either taker her life because he didn’t want it to be out,” Cheek said.
Cheek found out Angel was alive when her case became public in 2013, but she had the wrong last name to find her.
“I never stopped thinking about her. I never took the image of her out my mind,” she said.
She reached out to Carrie Thomas after seeing the initial news story.
“All I can do is thank God,” Cheek said.
Both the family that found Angel and her biological mother say they plan to keep in touch with the Thomas family.
The Thomas family is thankful to Terri Sims who leads Girl Tea Time Mentoring.
Sims reached out to FOX8 once Angel said she was ready to share her story.
The family is also grateful for the many people who shared their story on social media.