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Missing New York girl rescued; man linked to ransom note arrested

  • Charlotte Sena went missing Saturday from Moreau Lake State Park
  • The girl's mother called 911 after her bicycle was found
  • 9-year-old was found alive and taken to a local hospital

(NewsNation) — Charlotte Sena, a 9-year-old girl who went missing this weekend while camping with her family, has been found alive and a suspect is in custody, according to New York State Police.

“Charlotte Sena has been located and in good health,” New York State police said in a news release Monday. “A suspect is in custody. This is still an active investigation.”

On Monday, police searched multiple residences linked to a suspect, who investigators believed had been in the area around the time Sena went missing.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday night during a news conference that investigators were able to identify a fingerprint from a ransom note allegedly left by the suspect she identified as 47-year-old Craig Nelson Ross Jr.

The ransom note was left inside the mailbox of the Sena family home around 4 a.m. Monday, Hochul said. A fingerprint on the ransom note matched Ross, who was in a database from a 1999 DUI case.

Police tracked Ross to a double-wide trailer owned by his mother. They made entry into the camper around 6:30 p.m. and arrested Ross, who they said put up “some resistance” and suffered some minor injuries.

Sena was found safe inside the camper, which is about two miles from the Sena home, Hochul said.

Ross is being questioned, and charges are expected to follow.

Before she was located, Sena was last seen Saturday evening in Moreau Lake State Park, about 35 miles north of Albany. She had been riding her bike around a loop in the park with other children when she decided to ride around alone one more time.

Her parents became alarmed when the fourth grader failed to come back after 15 minutes, Hochul said at a briefing Sunday. The girl’s mother called 911 after her bicycle was found about 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Officials issued an Amber Alert on Sunday after an exhaustive search because “it was quite possible that an abduction had taken place,” state police Lt. Colonel Richard Mazzone said at the time. About 400 search and rescue personnel actively searched a 46 linear mile area around the state park.

The more than 100 searchers Sunday included police, forest rangers and civilians. Drones, bloodhounds and an airboat were also used in the search.

NedsNation affiliate WTEN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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