What Happened to Charlotte Sena? Ransom Note Helps Police Find Missing Girl

The suspect in the disappearance of 9-year-old Charlotte Sena, who was found safe on Monday, left a ransom note for her family that helped lead to his arrest, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said.

Hochul, during a Monday night news conference, identified the suspect as 47-year-old Craig Nelson Ross, Jr., and said he was taken into custody after briefly resisting authorities. He has not been formally charged, according to the governor, who said charges are “fully expected.”

The governor said Sena appeared to be “physically unharmed” after being rescued shortly after 6:30 p.m. Monday. Hochul, describing the ordeal as “every parent’s worst nightmare,” said the girl was abducted Saturday while on a camping trip with her family at upstate New York’s Moreau Lake State Park in what authorities said was a random attack.

“You start thinking the worst but what happened was extraordinary,” Hochul said.

Charlotte Sena Missing Child Found
A suspect is in custody after authorities found 9-year-old Charlotte Sena safe two days after she vanished, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said.
New York State Police

Newsweek reached out via Facebook on Monday night to Sena’s family for comment.

Sena, of Greenfield, New York, which is five miles north of Saratoga Springs, was camping with her family in the nearby state park when she went on a quick solo bike ride at roughly 6:15 p.m. Saturday and failed to return, Hochul said previously.

When she didn’t arrive back at the campsite, her family went looking for her and discovered her abandoned bicycle along the path she took, leading authorities to believe she had been abducted.

After an “exhaustive search” that involved numerous local and federal agencies and more than 400 certified search and rescue personnel, a ransom note is what led to a breakthrough in the case, the governor said.

Hochul said that Ross’ fingerprints were found on a note that was left in the mailbox at the Sena family home around 4:20 a.m. Monday.

The fingerprints led investigators to a residence in Milton, N.Y., where police found Ross and Sena inside a camper.

The child was “found in a cabinet, covered,” Hochul said, adding that “she knew she was being rescued.”

The governor said the suspect was “not known to the family” prior to the incident, adding that the vehicle registered to Ross shows his residence is less than two miles from where the Senas live.

“It’s not known at this time whether he knew her or had her under surveillance for any length of time,” Hochul said.

Investigators narrowed the suspect list through the requirement that every visitor who enters through the main gate of Moreau Lake State Park must purchase a ticket, the governor said.

She said the investigation is ongoing.

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