A breakthrough in the case
Nine-year-old Charlotte Sena, who went missing on September 30 while riding her bike in Moreau Lake State Park, was found alive on Monday evening after a fingerprint on a ransom note led police to the suspect. The suspect, identified as 47-year-old Craig Ross Jr., was arrested at a camper trailer in Milton, where he had allegedly kept the girl captive for three days.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the news at a press conference late Monday night, praising the efforts of the law enforcement agencies and the community in finding the girl. She said that a “critical piece of evidence” was a ransom note that Ross had left in the mailbox of the Sena family’s home around 4:20 a.m. Monday. The note demanded money in exchange for the girl’s safe return.
A fingerprint match
State troopers recovered the note after Ross left the area and sent it to a forensic lab for analysis. At about 2 p.m. Monday, a fingerprint on the note was matched to fingerprints from Ross’ arrest in Saratoga Springs in 1999 for driving while intoxicated. The governor said there is no indication yet that Ross had any connection to the girl’s family.
Police then searched the addresses associated with Ross and found him and the girl at a camper trailer behind his mother’s mobile home on Barrett Road in Milton, about 13 miles south of where the girl lives in Porter Corners. A State Police Special Operations Response Team and an FBI SWAT team raided the trailer and rescued the girl, who was hiding in a cupboard. Ross suffered minor injuries when he resisted arrest, according to police.
A random and traumatic incident
The governor called the incident “very random” and “traumatic” for the girl and her family. She said that Ross also had a vehicle registration that listed an address that was a short distance from the residence of the girl’s family. She said that the motive and the method of the abduction are still under investigation.
The girl was taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital for evaluation and treatment. She was reported to be in good health and reunited with her parents. The governor said that the state has been in touch with the family and offered them any support they need. She also thanked the public for their cooperation and assistance in the search.
A massive search effort
The girl’s disappearance sparked a massive search effort that involved numerous local and federal agencies, including the State Police, the FBI, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the New York State Park Police. More than 400 certified search and rescue personnel, as well as volunteers, participated in the search, which covered a large area of the state park and the surrounding woods.
The search also used helicopters, drones, dogs, boats, and ATVs to look for the girl. An Amber Alert was issued on Friday, asking the public to be on the lookout for the girl and her pink bike. The bike was found on Saturday near a trail in the park, but the girl remained missing until Monday evening.