A 47-year-old man charged with kidnapping 9-year-old Charlotte Sena at an upstate New York park and allegedly holding her in the cabinet of a camper he lived in next to his mother’s home has been identified by authorities.
Craig N. Ross Jr. is being held without bail Tuesday morning at the Saratoga County Correctional Facility on a charge of first-degree kidnapping, according to jail officials.
Charlotte was abducted from the Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County, New York, on Saturday evening, according to New York State Police. She disappeared around dinnertime on Saturday, while out riding her bike in the campground alone, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
The girl’s family and other campers went looking for her. Charlotte’s mother found her bike around 6:45 p.m. Saturday and called 911, police said. An Amber Alert was issued for the missing child Saturday night and an intense search involving up to 400 local, state and federal law enforcement officers and firefighters was conducted at the sprawling park.
Hochul said at a Monday night news conference that the big break in the three-day search for the missing girl came early Monday morning, apparently from the suspect himself. At 4:20 a.m. a car pulled up to the Sena family’s home and what turned out to be a ransom note was left in the mailbox, Hochul said.
“He literally drove up to the family’s mailbox, assuming they were not home, 4:20 in the morning, opens the mailbox and inserts the ransom note, leaving a critical piece of evidence behind – his own fingerprint,” Hochul said.
State police had been guarding the home while Charlotte’s parents, David and Trisha Sena, were still at the campsite, Hochul said.
The governor said the ransom note drop off “happened very quickly” and state police troopers were unable to stop the car. They were, however, able to make out the type of vehicle, she said.
Using technology and detective work, investigators found a fingerprint on the ransom note and linked the note to a DWI arrest of Ross in 1999 in Saratoga, New York.
Hochal said a vehicle registered to Ross led investigators to a double-wide house in Ballston Spa, New York, where the suspect’s mother lives. Investigators learned Ross was staying in a camper behind the residence.
State Police Col. Richard Allen said members of the State Police Special Operations Response Team and an FBI Regional SWAT team were assembled near the Ballston Spa home.
Allen said about 20 SPOR and FBI SWAT team members made what he described as a “dynamic entry” to the camper behind the house and took Ross into custody.
“[Ross] did give our SWAT people some resistance in there,” Allen said. “He did suffer some very minor injuries.”
Charlotte was immediately discovered in a cabinet, the governor said. The fourth-grader was found in “good health,” according to police.
“She knew that she was being rescued. She knew that she was in safe hands,” Hochul said.
Hochul added, “She’ll be going home. That’s the story. Charlotte will be going home.”
Authorities notified her parents at 6:32 p.m. ET.
Hochul said the home were Ross was arrested is about 2 miles from the Sena residence, but it is not known at this time whether he knew Charlotte or had her under surveillance for any length of time.
“We are thrilled that she is home and we understand that the outcome is not what every family gets. A huge thank you to the FBI, the New York State Police, all of the agencies that were mobilized all of the families, friends, volunteers,” the Sena family said in a statement.
Ross has been charged with kidnapping in the first degree, an A-1 felony.
Following his arrest, Ross was questioned at the New York State Police barracks in Latham, New York, and then arraigned at the Milton Town Court. Details of the suspect’s interrogation were not released.
Ross was appointed a public defender. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 17.
Additional charges are anticipated, officials said.
Hochul said the investigation is still active and more search warrants were being executed.
“We want to make sure that [Ross] is not connected to any other cases. So, that’s why its still an ongoing investigation, but at this time there’s no evidence of that,” Hochul said.
ABC News’ Darren Reynolds and Stephanie Ramos contributed to this story.
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