The family of 9-year-old Charlotte Sena, who authorities said was kidnapped from a New York state park on Saturday and miraculously found alive in a trailer cupboard two days later, expressed their profound relief as her alleged abductor faced arraignment on a kidnapping charge.
Jené Sena, Charlotte’s aunt, conveyed their joy, stating, “We are overjoyed that she is back home, although we recognize that not every family has such a fortunate outcome.”
She extended heartfelt gratitude to the FBI, New York State police, and the multitude of agencies, friends, families, and hundreds of volunteers who contributed to Charlotte’s safe return.
Suspect Craig Nelson Ross Jr., aged 47, was arraigned on a first-degree kidnapping charge in the New York Milton Town Court during the overnight hours and was subsequently remanded into Saratoga County jail without the option of bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for October 17.
Charlotte Sena had vanished on Saturday evening while riding her bike alone at Moreau Lake State Park. She had been on a camping trip with her family and was last seen at around 6:15 p.m., according to state police.
Initially, she had been cycling with family friends along a park trail, but she later embarked on a solo ride and failed to return. Authorities discovered her bicycle along the trail.
An Amber Alert was activated on Sunday, prompting over 400 certified search and rescue personnel to scour the area on Monday. The extensive search efforts culminated in the heartwarming discovery of the young girl in “good health” on Monday evening at 6:32 p.m.
State police reported that investigators became aware of an individual who had been “in the area” of Moreau Lake State Park around the time of Charlotte’s disappearance. They subsequently executed searches at multiple residences where this individual was known to have stayed.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul disclosed that officials homed in on the suspect after he dropped off a ransom note at the Sena family’s residence on Monday morning. A fingerprint on the note matched a previous arrest for driving while intoxicated in Saratoga in 1999.
Governor Hochul noted that the suspect had driven up to the family’s mailbox at 4:20 in the morning to deliver the note. This fingerprint discovery ultimately led to the identification of a nearby residence where the suspect was apprehended.
The arrest occurred on Monday evening at the suspect’s residence, an RV trailer located at a site where his mother also lived. Two SWAT teams executed a “dynamic entry” into his living quarters, during which the suspect reportedly resisted arrest and sustained minor injuries, as per state police.
It remains unclear whether Ross had any prior connection to the Sena family. State Police are expected to provide further details on the case during a news conference scheduled for Tuesday.