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9-year-old who vanished from New York state park found safe and man linked to ransom note arrested

by Sophia Chen
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Kidnapping Investigation

A 9-year-old girl who disappeared during a family camping excursion in upstate New York has been safely located and is in good health. This heartening outcome followed an extensive two-day search operation that culminated in the apprehension of a person suspected of abducting her, as announced by the police.

Charlotte Sena had gone missing while riding her bicycle on Saturday evening in the dense woods of Moreau Lake State Park, situated approximately 35 miles north of Albany.

Governor Kathy Hochul, speaking during a news conference on Monday night, disclosed that investigators were able to identify a fingerprint on a ransom note allegedly left by the suspect, identified as Craig Nelson Ross Jr., aged 47.

Hochul described the unfolding events as extraordinary. While the rest of Charlotte’s family remained at the campground, police stationed at their home observed an individual dropping a note in their mailbox at 4:20 a.m. on Monday. State police collected fingerprints from the note, and the second print matched that of Ross, who was already in a database due to a 1999 DWI case, according to Hochul.

Law enforcement authorities traced Ross to a property owned by his mother, gained access, and found him inside a camper at around 6:30 p.m., as per Hochul’s account. Despite initial resistance, the suspect was apprehended, and Charlotte was discovered safely tucked away in a cabinet. She was aware that she was being rescued and in safe hands.

Following the rescue, Charlotte was taken to a local hospital for evaluation, a customary procedure in such cases. Governor Hochul noted that she appeared physically unharmed, and she was promptly reunited with her family.

Although no charges had been filed against Ross at the time of the announcement, Governor Hochul indicated that they were forthcoming. Ross was still undergoing questioning on Monday night.

The governor publicly identified Ross as the suspect late on Monday night, and it remained unclear whether he had legal representation to speak on his behalf.

Authorities emphasized that the investigation was ongoing.

This successful rescue marked the conclusion of a rigorous search effort that involved approximately 400 individuals, including forest rangers, police officers, and firefighters. The search area spanned over 46 linear miles.

Charlotte, a fourth-grade student from nearby Greenfield, had been riding her bicycle around the campsite loop with other children before deciding to take one more solo ride. Her parents became concerned when she did not return after 15 minutes, as reported by Governor Hochul on Sunday.

The girl’s mother contacted 911 after discovering her bicycle around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday. An Amber Alert was issued on Sunday morning, given the possibility of an abduction, following an exhaustive search. Charlotte was described in the alert as a white girl with blonde hair and green eyes, standing at about 4 feet 6 inches tall (1.37 meters).

The family of the girl had appealed to the public for assistance in locating Charlotte, urging anyone with information to contact state police.

Troopers had established numerous checkpoints on the winding rural roads surrounding the park, questioning drivers about their knowledge of the family, showing them the girl’s photo, and seeking any pertinent information. Some drivers were even asked to open their vehicle trunks.

The park remained closed during the search, with officials advising members of the public who wished to assist to stay away and allow professionals to conduct the search. Federal authorities also imposed a temporary flight restriction over the park to ensure the safety of law enforcement aviation operations.

The Corinth Central School District announced that it had deployed additional counselors at Charlotte’s elementary school to provide support to students and staff during this challenging time.

The district conveyed its sympathy to the Sena family in a statement.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Abduction

What were the circumstances of Charlotte Sena’s disappearance?

Charlotte Sena, a 9-year-old girl, vanished while riding her bicycle during a family camping trip at Moreau Lake State Park in upstate New York. She went missing in a heavily wooded area approximately 35 miles north of Albany.

How was Charlotte Sena located?

After an exhaustive two-day search, law enforcement was able to identify a fingerprint from a ransom note allegedly left by the suspect, Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 47. Police observed someone dropping a note in the family’s mailbox, collected fingerprints, and matched them to Ross. He was found on a property owned by his mother and apprehended. Charlotte was discovered safe in a cabinet.

What was Charlotte’s condition when she was found?

Charlotte Sena appeared to be in good health and physically unharmed when she was located. She was taken to a local hospital for evaluation, and subsequently, she was reunited with her family.

What charges have been filed against the suspect, Craig Nelson Ross Jr.?

As of the latest information, no charges had been filed against Ross. However, it was expected that charges would be brought against him. Ross was still being questioned by authorities.

What was the scale of the search operation?

The search for Charlotte Sena involved approximately 400 individuals, including forest rangers, police officers, and firefighters. It covered an extensive area, spanning 46 linear miles.

How did the community and authorities respond to Charlotte’s disappearance?

An Amber Alert was issued after concerns of a possible abduction. Troopers set up checkpoints, questioned drivers, and sought the public’s assistance in locating Charlotte. The Corinth Central School District provided additional support for students and staff during this challenging time.

Is there any information on the suspect’s legal representation?

At the time of the announcement, it was unclear whether Craig Nelson Ross Jr. had legal representation to speak on his behalf.

What’s the status of the investigation?

The investigation into this case was described as active, indicating that further developments and legal proceedings were likely to follow.

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