Kidnapping suspect who left ransom note also gave police a clue — his fingerprints

Oct 3, 2023, 8:19 AM

FILE - Police secure the entrance to Moreau Lake State Park as search continues for Charlotte Sena,...

FILE - Police secure the entrance to Moreau Lake State Park as search continues for Charlotte Sena, a missing 9-year-old girl who had been camping over the weekend with her family at the park, Monday Oct. 2, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Michael Hill, File)

(AP Photo/Michael Hill, File)

MOREAU, N.Y. (AP) — A fingerprint on a ransom note led police to a kidnapping suspect’s camper in New York where 9-year-old Charlotte Sena was found hidden in a cabinet, ending a two-day search sparked by the girl’s disappearance during a family camping trip, officials said.

“We are thrilled that she is home and we understand that the outcome is not what every family gets,” the girl’s family said in a statement Tuesday, WRGB in Albany reported.

Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 46, was arrested Monday at the camper parked at his mother’s house, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced at a news conference late Monday.

Ross was arraigned overnight in town court in Milton, New York on a charge of first-degree kidnapping, the state police announced Tuesday. He was being held without bail at the Saratoga County Correctional Facility.

Police said more charges are expected against Ross, whose age was initially given as 47.

A message seeking comment was left with the Saratoga County Public Defender’s Office, which represented Ross at his arraignment.

Charlotte vanished while riding her bike Saturday at Moreau Lake State Park, a heavily wooded area some 35 miles (60 kilometers) north of Albany.

State police issued an Amber Alert on Sunday because “it was quite possible that an abduction had taken place,” Lt. Colonel Richard Mazzone said.

About 400 people took part in the search for Charlotte, including forest rangers, police officers and firefighters.

The girl’s family had pleaded with the public for help in finding Charlotte, including providing any tips to the state police.

“We just want her returned safely like any parent would,” the family said in a statement earlier Monday. “No tip is too small, please call if you know anything at all.”

The family’s statement after she was found included “a huge thank you to the FBI, the New York State police, all of the agencies that were mobilized, all of the families, friends, community, neighbors and hundreds of volunteers who supported us and worked tirelessly to bring Charlotte home.”

Hochul said Charlotte’s family remained at the campground while police watched the family’s home. The officers saw someone drop a note in the mailbox at 4:20 a.m. Monday, the governor said. State police pulled fingerprints off the note and the second one matched Ross, who was in a database from a 1999 DWI case.

Law enforcement agents linked Ross to the property owned by his mother, where they found him in the camper, Hochul said.

“After some resistance, the suspect was taken into custody and immediately the little girl was found in a cabinet,” Hochul said. “She knew she was being rescued. She knew that she was in safe hands.”

The road leading up to the site where the girl was rescued was no longer blocked off as of Tuesday morning. The property owned by the suspect’s mother, adorned with Halloween decorations, was lined with yellow tape. It was not immediately clear if anyone was home.

Investigators with the police, dressed in hazmat suits, could be seen walking into the suspect’s mother’s home, as well as a white trailer located at the side of the house.

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Kidnapping suspect who left ransom note also gave police a clue — his fingerprints