The 9-year-old girl who was abducted from an upstate New York park over the weekend was found safe inside a cupboard in her alleged kidnapper’s camper after cops tracked him down through a ransom note he left the child’s distraught family early Monday morning.
Charlotte Sena was rescued from the home of suspect Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 47, after investigators tracked him down to his mother’s house in Ballston Spa where his camper was parked in the backyard, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Monday night.
Ross reportedly dropped a ransom letter in the Sena family’s mailbox at 4:20 a.m. Monday. Cops fingerprinted the note and matched prints they lifted off it to a 1999 DWI arrest in Saratoga which Ross had on his record.
“He literally drove up to the family’s mailbox, assuming they were not home [at] 4:20 in the morning, opens the mailbox and inserts the ransom note leaving the critical piece of evidence behind — his own fingerprint,” Hochul said at a press conference Monday night.
Investigators then found his home address, knocked on his door and took Ross to custody “after some resistance,” Hocul said. Charges against him are pending.
“Immediately the little girl was found in a cabinet cupboard,” the governor said. “She was rescued and she knew she was being rescued. She knew that she was in safe hands.”
The girl’s parents were notified that she was rescued at around 6:32 p.m. and appeared to be “physically unharmed.”
Charlotte was transported to a local hospital as is customary, Hochul said.
It’s unclear if Ross allegedly targeted Charlotte specifically or went after her at random when she was alone for a few minutes while riding her bike through Moreau Lake State Park Saturday where she had been camping with her family.
The suspect lived just two miles from the child’s home, according to an address listed on his vehicle registration, the governor said.
“But it is not known at this time, whether he knew her or had her under surveillance for any length of time,” she added.
Hochul said she had met with Charlotte’s heartbroken parents, David and Trisha, before the girl was rescued.
“I said to them, I promise you this: We will bring Charlotte home to you,” she said. “And as each hour went on, hope faded. Because we all know the stories. First 24 hours there’s hope when you hit 48 hours hope starts to wane.”
“What happened next was extraordinary,” Hochul said of the breakthrough in the case on Monday morning.
Charlotte had been missing since Saturday evening when she never returned from her bike ride in the park, where she was camping with her family.
About 400 officers, specialists and volunteers searched for evidence of the girl on Sunday and Monday.
“It was pretty overwhelming because all of us feared the worst, but I promised Trish and Dave that they would be reunited with Charlotte once again and she’d see her two sisters,” Hochul said.
“We’ll continue to keep this family in our prayers as they heal. But she’ll be going home,” she added. “That’s the story. Charlotte will be going home.”
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