Charlotte Sena, The Missing 9-Year-Old New York Girl Found Safe, Suspect Craig Ross Jr. Arrested

"Charlotte will be going home" says Governor Hochul

A 9-year-old girl who was abducted from a park in upstate New York over the weekend has been found safe inside a cupboard in her alleged kidnapper's camper. Law enforcement authorities successfully tracked down the suspect, Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 47, through a ransom note he left for the child's distraught family early Monday morning.

Charlotte Sena

The young girl, Charlotte Sena, was rescued from Ross's residence, which was parked in the backyard of his mother's house in Ballston Spa. Governor Kathy Hochul made the announcement on Monday night, shedding light on the dramatic turn of events that unfolded.

Ross reportedly placed a ransom letter in the Sena family's mailbox at 4:20 a.m. on Monday. Law enforcement officers were able to lift fingerprints from the note, which they then matched to a 1999 DWI arrest in Saratoga that was on Ross's record.

Governor Hochul shared her astonishment at Ross's actions, stating, "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."

Charlotte Sena had gone missing during a bike ride while camping at New York's Moreau Lake State Park. Investigators subsequently located Ross's home address, apprehended him, and encountered resistance during his arrest. Charges against him are pending.

Governor Hochul expressed relief at the successful rescue, stating, "Immediately the little girl was found in a cabinet cupboard. She was rescued and she knew she was being rescued. She knew that she was in safe hands." The girl's parents were notified of her rescue around 6:32 p.m., and she appeared to be "physically unharmed." As per standard procedure, Charlotte was transported to a local hospital.

It remains unclear whether Ross specifically targeted Charlotte or if the abduction was a random act when she was briefly alone during her bike ride at Moreau Lake State Park. The suspect lived just two miles from the child's home, according to his vehicle registration.

Governor Hochul shared her emotional meeting with Charlotte's parents, David and Trisha, before the girl's rescue. "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."

Reflecting on the extraordinary turn of events, Governor Hochul stated, "What happened next was extraordinary." Charlotte had been missing since Saturday evening when she failed to return from her bike ride in the park, where she was camping with her family.

Approximately 400 officers, specialists, and volunteers dedicated their efforts to searching for evidence related to the girl on Sunday and Monday. Governor Hochul expressed her gratitude, saying, "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."

As the Sena family begins their healing process, the state continues to offer support. Governor Hochul concluded, "We'll continue to keep this family in our prayers as they heal. But she'll be going home. That's the story. Charlotte will be going home."